• Guide to a Healthy Lawn

    A healthy green lawn, perfect for lounging, great for ball games and cookouts, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your lawn--and how you take care of it--could also help the environment? Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, which find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

    Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits. Creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests is key.

    A preventive health care program for your lawn should have the following three steps:

    • Develop healthy soil
    • Mow high, often, and with sharp blades
    • Water deeply but not too often

    Develop Healthy Soil

    Good soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. To grow well, your lawn needs soil with good texture, some key nutrients, and the right pH, or acidity/alkalinity balance. Lawns need to be fertilized because they need more nitrogen and potassium than soils usually contain. These two elements are the primary ingredients found in most lawn fertilizers. It's important not to over-fertilize--you could do more harm to your lawn than good--and it's best to use a slow-release fertilizer that feeds the lawn slowly.

    Mow High, Often and With Sharp Blades

    Mowing high--that is, keeping your lawn a bit long--produces stronger, healthier grass with fewer pest problems. Longer grass has more leaf surface to take in sunlight. This enables it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system, which in turn helps the grass survive drought, tolerate insect damage, and fend off diseases. Longer grass also shades the soil surface keeping it cooler, helping it retain moisture, and making it difficult for weeds to germinate and grow. A lawn's ideal length will vary with the type of grass, but many turf grass species such as St. Augustine are healthiest when kept between 3 1/2 and 4 inches. It's also important to mow with sharp blades to prevent tearing and injuring the grass. And it's best to mow often, because grass adjusts better to frequent than infrequent mowing. The rule of thumb is to mow often enough that you never cut more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blades. Save some time and help your lawn and the environment by leaving short clippings on the grass--where they recycle nitrogen--rather than sending them in bags to the landfill. You don't have to grow a foot-high meadow to get good results. Just adding an inch will give most lawns a real boost.

    Water Deeply But Not Too Often

    Watering properly helps your lawn grow deep roots that make it stronger and less vulnerable to drought. Most lawns are watered too often but with too little water. It's best to water only when the lawn really needs it, and then to water slowly and deeply. This trains the grass roots down. Frequent shallow watering trains the roots to stay near the surface, making the lawn less able to find moisture during dry periods.Water your lawn in a way that imitates a slow, soaking rain. It's best to water in the early morning, especially during hot summer months, to reduce evaporation. Apply about an inch of water--enough that it soaks 6 to 8 inches into the soil.

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  • Lawn care tips to keep your lawn green and environmentally friendly.