hints and tips for a healthy lawn
Don't cut the lawn too short. This is a major source of lawn problems for many people who believe that is what they do on golf courses and so that is what you should do at home. Golf courses use growth inhibitors to restrict the growth of the grass, and the grass is able to reach a 'maturing' height where it can prosper much shorter than normal.
Cutting the grass short at home has several disadvantages:
- It encourages moss
- It provides an ideal environment for the transmission of weeds
- It prevents the grass reaching a 'maturing' height.
- It provides no shade to the roots in very hot weather
- It increases the amount of watering required.
Do not cut the grass any lower than 1 inch (1½ inches in summer) and preferably only 1/3 of the length each time. Longer grass provides a greater surface area for photosynthesis and therefore healthier grass. Leaving the grass a little longer also leaves the 'crown' of the grass intact (where the grass leaf grows from). Longer grass grows more slowly and therefore you can reduce the amount of mowing required, which in turn allows the grass to fully recover. All in all, longer grass gives a better lawn.
How often to mow?
Mowing once a week is usually sufficient. In spring when grass is growing more rapidly, mowing twice a week may be necessary.
Don't leave the cuttings on the lawn. Eventually it will biodegrade and put nutrients back into the lawn, but it will take several weeks and during that time several cuttings will form a thick sub-surface thatch that will begin to rot – providing the perfect damp and dark environment that moss thrives in! Leaving cuttings on your lawn also means your house is always full of grass!
Make sure the blades on the mower are sharp. Mowing with a dull blade tears the end of the grass blade leaving them ragged. These later turn brown giving the lawn a dried out look.
In the heat of summer make sure you have a regular and frequent watering pattern. Watching the grass turn yellow in very hot weather (a natural reaction) over a period of 2 to 3 weeks and then deciding to give it a good sprinkling is probably the worst thing you can do. The chances are you will only give a surface watering which will not penetrate the soil to any great extent. If you are going to water, water well; about 10liters per square meter, and water often so the roots still manage to find water deep in the soil. Otherwise just leave it – unless there are extenuating circumstances most lawns will come back to their original condition when the rain returns. As a guide during the main part of the growing season turf will ideally be watered twice per week, in the early part of the day to avoid leaving a humid surface on the lawn overnight which encourages fungus to grow and damage the lawn.