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.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/29/2016
Every week, another child is diagnosed with cancer in Central Virginia. Last summer, six-year-old Caroline Morris was one of them.
Diagnosed in June 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, Morris has been receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) ever since.
“It’s not my hair that makes my beauty,” said Morris, who lost her hair as a chemotherapy side effect, “it’s my heart.” > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/25/2016
The sign up period for the Richmond Community Solar Co-op will close on April 30. Nearly 150 homeowners and businesses have joined the group to save money and make going solar easier. The group has started installations and is working with VA SUN to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar.
“If you’ve ever thought about going solar, this is a great opportunity to do so,” said Sekar Veerappan Co-op member and the group’s first installation. “Working with the group helps members learn about going solar and make an informed decision.” > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarHenrico High School will host the first-annual "Building the Dream Scholarship and Warrior Fund Golf Tournament" June 11 at The Crossings Golf Course in Glen Allen. The event will be… Full text