When it comes to lawn care, many homeowners repeat the same bad practices year after year.  Here are a few to avoid.

1.  Scalping the lawn to start the season.

Mowing grass too short is very harmful to the plant and can actually put it into shock. Cutting off too much of the grass blade will limit it's ability to absorb sunshine (known as photosynthesis) through it's leaves. This will make the plant less healthy and more prone to disease. Cutting the grass too short also encourages the weeds to grow as there is now less competition for the same space.  Observe areas where use of a weed eater has scalped the grass almost down to the dirt and notice how the weeds take over in these areas.  A nice healthy, thick lawn will crowd out many of the weeds and is always the best weed prevention.

2.  Over watering.

Here in Colorado, lawns do not need to be watered every day or even every other day.  Over watering only wastes water. Watering too frequently discourages the grass from developing the deep root system it needs to take the water available deeper in the soil and become less dependent on supplemental watering. A deeper root system will help lawns better survive periods of drought when water restrictions will further limit watering.

It is better to water less frequently but deeper. This will encourage the plant to push it's roots deeper.

3.  Mowing the grass too short.

Cutting it too short will put unnecessary stress on the plant and make it more susceptible to damage from insects and disease. Set the mower height to about 2 1/2 inches and never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any one time. The grass will develop a deeper root system to support the longer blades and need less water.

4.  Mowing with dull mower blades.

Mowing with dull or nicked  lawn mower blades will actually tear the grass blade and not leave a clean cut. This is commonly referred to as "white tipping." After mowing with a dull mower blade the grass will appear to have light colored tips and will look to be dry and in need of additional water. This will cause many homeowners to think they must give the grass additional unnecessary watering and fertilizer to make it green again. A  torn or ripped blade of grass is also more prone to disease and insect damage. Sharpen the lawnmower blades at the start of each season and check periodically to make certain they remain sharp.

5.  Misapplication of fertilizer.

One of the most common mistakes made with lawn fertilizers is either applying too much or applying it at the wrong time of the year. Over fertilizing, especially with high levels of nitrogen, will cause excess leaf growth and limit root growth.  If applied too heavy, it will actually burn the lawn. It is recommended to use a slow release fertilizer. They are designed to release the ingredients slowly over a longer period of time. They do not need to be applied as often and reduce the chance of burning the lawn when applied. It is best to apply fertilizer during the time grass is rapidly growing. With the cool season grasses we have in Colorado, that means it is best to apply during the Spring and Fall. It is counter productive to put down fertilizer during the hot and dry months of Summer when the grass wants to go dormant anyway. Fertilizing at this time will only force the grass to grow when it's innate survival instincts tell it not to, and require more water to support the increased growth. Fall fertilization is important for root growth and will give the lawn a boost next Spring.

Avoid these lawn care mistakes each year and you will have a healthier and more water efficient lawn.

 

 © Can Stock Photo Inc. / caraman

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