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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lovin' My Lawn!

I have to admit I'm lovin' my lawn right now. This is our third spring in this home and the lawn is beginning to look very nice. It's not perfect, in fact far from it. Weeds can be found within a few feet of anywhere you look but the fescue is taking over. Areas that used to be clumps of weeds are now filled with new grass planted in the last two falls. I have to admit something else, I have only aerated one time, two years ago and I have never fertilized. Never. Now it's possible that I have received some runoff fertilizer from my neighbors lawns but I can safely attribute most of my turf's success to two important lawn techniques: Cutting the grass high and fall overseeding.

Cutting the grass high is extremely important for fescue lawns like mine. When you cut the grass short it causes two things to happen: it limits the length of the grass's root system and it allows weeds to see the sun. All plants like sunlight, some more than others, and most lawn weeds think it's the best thing since sliced bread! Chickweed, henbit, ragweed, thistle, and dandelions all love the sun. That's not to say that weeds won't grow underneath the shade of the grass but they will grow less vigorously which can mean the difference between controlling your weeds and an outbreak of unwanted invaders. Cutting the grass high definitely limits the light the weeds receive while allowing the grass to form a more established root system. It also encourages the roots to grow deep which makes the grass more drought tolerant since it can reach the water under the soil's surface. Most of the time I have the mower on one of the top two deck height settings. In the summer this is especially important. Grass will grow at the same rate no matter how high you cut it so the old myth that you will have to cut it more often is just that, a myth.

Fall overseeding isn't a secret but I can't figure out why more people don't do it. Overseeding thickens the lawn by adding more seed during the cool season in the fall. The grass germinates and sends down roots where they will continue to grow through the cold season. When spring comes the grass is ready to flush out with new growth invigorated by the root system it began establishing in the fall.

To me these are two of the most important techniques for maintaining a fescue lawn. One more quick tip, never mow the lawn when it doesn't need it! Every summer I see people out mowing their lawns in the middle of dry spells (most likely out of habit). Maybe they just need something to do? Maybe they are trying to raise the price of gas in America? If the grass isn't growing it doesn't need mowing!

10 comments :

  1. I don't have fescue, but I second the advice to mow high! It has made a world of difference in the health and drought-tolerance of our lawn. We live in Mississippi and didn't water a single time last year.

    Your lawn is BEAUTIFUL!

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  2. I would be loving that lawn too Dave. Thanks for the great tips on how to have a nice grassy area without destroying the environment in the process.

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  3. Very nice. It is a green time of the year for the yard. Not too hot, not too frozen. Thanks for the tips.

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  4. This gives me hope. We have a new lawn, sod, that was installed in early October. It's still pretty soggy after all our rain and snow. Biggest tip: give it time!

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  5. Your turf looks good. We have bermuda, so cutting time is still a month or more away.

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  6. Thank you for this very informative post! I used to work for a company that cut grass. Customers would call and ask us to cut their lawns shorter; I could tell them about the benefits of not cutting short until I was blue in the face, but some people are just insistant about doing things their own way.

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  7. It sure looks nice! Ours is FULL of moss right now. That's one job I leave to my husband.

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  8. Hi Dave, I am already planning to add spring beauties to my lawn...but it looks nice and green right now. Thanks for the care tips...I will overseed in the fall and mow high only when needed! I've a new Gail powered reel mower with heigh adjustment. Very exciting!

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  9. Dave,
    Your lawn looks beautiful to me. We always have patchy lawn at this time of year. It will fill in though. I always have a few trouble spots.

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  10. Good green-lawn advice, Dave. Lawn isn't my strong suit, but I live in a rural locale and and tend to encourage the clover and dandelions, and not to mow too often just because. I'm going to point people to this post, though, because you make some wise comments and your lawn does look awesome.

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