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.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
If the snow last weekend had you stuck at home, then you will appreciate free admission all weekend long at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Other free options this weekend include a Classic Family Film series at Varina Library, “Crafternoon” at Libbie Mill Library and the tenth annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival taking place Sunday and Monday at the Weinstein JCC. Concert options include the 8th annual Djangoary Music Soiree at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Flight Risk, performing at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Jan. 4, 2017Click here to read the print edition.
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