In the garden
Proper mowing techniques
Now that lawns are greening up, it’s time to consider best practices for mowing your grass.
“How you mow is important,” advises Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “One of the best ways to prevent weeds in your lawn is to mow correctly.”
Start by checking the blade on your mower. It needs to be sharp so that you don’t chew off or shred your grass, which makes it vulnerable to disease and attacks by insects.
The blade needs to be set high enough to leave grass at least 3 inches high. “This is probably the most important thing,” said Carter. “Mowing high improves root growth and helps shade out weed seedlings. You’ll still have some weeds, but the number will be greatly reduced.”
Carter advised following the one-third rule: never remove more than 1/3 of the height of your grass at one time.
Mow regularly, though not when grass is wet, and rotate mowing patterns. And leave the grass clippings on the lawn. As long as they’re not in clumps, grass clippings will decompose and return valuable nutrients and water to the soil. “Lawn clippings are ‘free fertilizer,” Carter said, “and they don’t contribute to thatch buildup.”
Tall fescue grasses, used most often in this area, don’t develop thatch layers.
Tall fescue is a cool season grass that looks good in the spring, early summer, and fall, but it can go dormant in the heat of the summer unless it is watered.
“Lawn irrigation is an all or nothing proposition,” said Carter.
Lawns that aren’t watered can survive as long as they have a strong root system. To keep grass green in summer’s heat, an inch of water is needed every week.
“That means a good, deep soaking that builds the root system,” said Carter. “Not just 15 minutes.”
“The roots are the root of the matter,” she added. “Healthy lawns have strong root systems.”
Applying a broadleaf weed killer should be done now before the weeds get too large. “Spot spray what you’re seeing,” said Carter. Spot spraying rather than broadcasting means you use less weed killer, save money, help the environment, and lessen your exposure to herbicides.
And, if you haven’t already put down a crabgrass preventer, Carter said you can still benefit from applying it. Choose a product that doesn’t contain fertilizer.
“Cool season grasses should be fertilized in the fall,” said Carter. “In spring, fertilizer makes grass put on more top growth – which you don’t need. You’re already mowing in spring, and fall fertilizing promotes root growth.”
Henrico Extension offers the SMART Lawns program to help homeowners have beautiful lawns. Master Gardeners collect lawn soil samples and measure total lawn area, and after processing, homeowners can get customized advice. To learn more, call 501-5160 or search SMART Lawns on Henrico County’s website at http://www.co.henrico.va.us.
For the third consecutive year, the Canterbury Recreation Association in Short Pump donated the most meals to the fourth-annual "Dunk Hunger" campaign, which raises money and food donations for FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. Swim teams and community pools throughout the region combined to raise the equivalent of 77,404 meals this year, with the Canterbury group earning the Gold Medal, with 17,454 meals contributed.
CRA will earn a winners’ bash Aug. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at its pool on Pump Road.
“Our pool has adopted Dunk Hunger into its culture with fun ways to raise food and funds," said Canterbury’s Dunk Hunger chairman Jack McSorley, a Freeman High School junior. > Read more.
The last Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer outdoor concert at West Broad Village, scheduled Saturday, Aug. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Short Pump, will feature a salute to the upcoming UCI Road World Cycling Championships, coming to the Richmond region next month. As an all-girl band entertains the public with an AC/DC and Foreigner tribute, representatives from West Broad Village will accept donations of children’s new and lightly used bicycles for redistribution to youngsters at the Virginia Homes for Boys and Girls. > Read more.
CAT Theatre is hosting the Red Eye 10s Coast-to-Coast Play Festival Sept. 18-19. Hosts of the festival across the country cast, rehearse and perform six, contest-winning ten-minute plays from MFA students at Hollins University in the same twenty-four hour period.
On Sept. 18, CAT will host a kick-off meeting at which the plays will be randomly cast and actors will meet with their directors and read the play for the first time. From 9 p.m. until 5 p.m. the following day, casts will rehearse in different venues in the region, convening at CAT in the late afternoon for technical rehearsals. > Read more.
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