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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lawn Maintenance

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Myths About Lawns
By Kenneth C. Hoffman

Here’s the situation: your lawn looks terrible, you can’t afford a professional lawn service and you’re thinking of getting a goat. In some places the weeds are taking over, the crab grass won’t go away and there are mysterious bare spots you think is due to a dog but you‘re not sure.

Fist let me dispel the myth that you can get rid of your weeds permanently with weed killer. The weed seeds in your lawn will keep coming up as long as there are seeds and dirt. What you have to do is kill the seeds before they come up. The way you do that is to put down seed killer after the last frost of the winter. You may need two applications for a serious problem. Most weeds are annuals therefore they die every year from the frost. So you get a fresh chance every year to start with a practically weed free lawn. Scotts makes a good seed killer product.

Bare spots not due to dog business can be raked sharply and seeded in the spring. Urine in the earth will not allow seeds to germinate and must be replaced with fresh dirt. Fresh seed of the root runner type is good for filling in bare spots. A garden center should have Windsor or other seed varieties that send out root runners. Another method is to dig up a plug of grass from a hidden area and fix the problem instantly. Try to use the same kind of grass so it doesn’t show different colors.

A dry spell in August generally browns off the lawn. By cutting the grass higher than usual, it will stay greener, longer. Fertilize twice a year, once in late spring and once at the beginning of Fall. The organic type fertilizer is best because it lasts much longer, doesn’t burn and requires fewer applications. Acid soils need an application of ground lime for good growth. Many evergreens and perennials need an acid soil, so don’t get any lime near these plants. Grass likes sun so feel free to cut down some overhanging branches or even whole trees if necessary. Water the lawn after dusk for less evaporation and water long enough for the roots to be penetrated. One heavy watering a week is worth three days of light watering. A drying out period is good for the grass since the roots will seek out the water at a lower depth.

A sharp blade gives a clean cut without the usual ragged tips that brown easily, making your lawn look less green. Clean the mower bag frequently with a power hose in order to keep a good volume of air going through the bag. During heavy growth times like May and September, it is best to collect all the clippings for the compost pile. Alternate the direction and mowing pattern for an even lawn without wheel ruts. Just as you can tell the character of a person by his shoes, a beautiful lawn sets the tone for your whole home.

Retired portrait photographer now writer.

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