LAWN CARE TIPS
Water your lawn in the morning, especially if night time temperatures are cool. Watering early in the morning increases the likelihood that water percolates into the soil rather than evaporating. If the grass receives too little water, the plant functions begin to shut down. Chlorophyll production stops, photosynthesis slows to a crawl and growth diminishes. Parts of the plant begin to die, leading the plant to be susceptible to damage from traffic or pests. Water deeply enough to moisten the root zone, and water again as soon as you see signs of stress.
Mow when itís cool and dry. After the morning dew dries off is the best time for the grass--it isnít suffering afternoon heat stress but it isnít so damp that grass clumps form. Late afternoon or early evening following a morning watering is just as good. When you mow, alternate your pattern. Mow once traveling horizontally across the lawn. The next time, travel vertically. If you really want to get fancy and impress the neighbors, travel diagonally on the third mowing and diagonally from the opposite corner the fourth time. Leaving your grass clippings on the lawn is actually a good thing. As the grass clippings decompose they add valuable nitrogen to the soil. As well they add organic matter and other benefits to the soil that will actually make your lawn healthier.
Fertilizers can be divided into many categories: Growth, starter, balanced, and complete. These are categorized based on the amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in the bag, or the N-P-K ratio.
A growth fertilizer will have a high N content and relatively low P and K content. Ammonium nitrate is the highest Nitrogen fertilizer you can buy. It is usually rated as 33-0-0 or 34-0-0. The bag contains 33% or 34% Nitrogen and the other 66% or 67% is inert material. Other formulations of growth fertilizers will contain 5, 6 or even 7 times more Nitrogen than anything else. Use growth fertilizers very sparingly, applying them lightly during the peak growing season of your grass.
A starter fertilizer is used to help a new lawn become established. They contain very small amounts of Nitrogen relative to the other two nutrients, and you will often see them in a 5-20-20 formulation. New lawns need extra Phosphorous and Potassium to develop strong roots and resist disease, but they also need a tad of Nitrogen for growth. Use these fertilizers as recommended on your seed package.
Balanced fertilizers are just what they sound like--the amount of nutrients contained in the bag are balanced. You will see these as 6-6-6, 8-8-8, 10-10-10, etc. Unless a soil analysis has shown that your soil is deficient in all three nutrients, your lawn will rarely need a balanced fertilizer. These are better suited towards other plants in your landscape, such as trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials and vegetables.
Complete fertilizers have 3 or 4 times as much Nitrogen as Phosphorous and 2 times as much Nitrogen as Potassium. In most cases, this is the stuff your lawn will use best. They are called "complete" because they provide nutrients in a mix that completely satisfies most grassí requirements. If you only make one or two fertilizer applications a year, this is the stuff you want.
A hedge trimmer can be very helpful in maintaining your shrubs. You can choose from gas, corded electric and rechargeable battery powered models. Gas types are the most powerful, while electric and battery operated trimmers are much quieter and easier to use. Remember, that with an electric model, you are limited by the length of your extension cord and with a rechargeable, you are limited by the duration of its' charge. When you begin to trim your† hedges, aim for a slightly tapered shape, narrower at the top than the base. If the shape is reversed, wider at the top, the base of the hedge will be shaded and eventually lose its leaves. Instead of a fence, consider a hedge. It can be used to protect privacy, screen bad views, keep children and pets in or out, or just frame and accent certain areas.