Friday, August 12, 2022
Aug. 12, 2022

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Gardening with Allen: Tips for a beautiful lawn


Most of my neighbors have a landscaper mow their lawns, have a spray service or both. I still do everything myself. Could you give me some suggestions for making my lawn as healthy and attractive as possible?

Whether you maintain your own lawn or have someone else do it, the most important practice for a healthy and beautiful lawn is keeping the mowing height as high as possible. Grass blades are the manufacturing plant of the lawn. If cut too short, there is less leaf surface for converting the sun’s energy into food for growth. Anything shorter than 1½ inches is detrimental to the lawn. I prefer 2 inches or longer.

Mowing frequency is also important. Even though most golf course fairways are cut at a height of three-quarters inch, they are also mowed at a two- to three-day interval. That way no more than 30 to 40 percent of the blade is removed at each mowing. If mowed at three-quarters inch on a weekly basis, more than half of the blade would be removed each time. Under those conditions, grass plants become weaker and weaker.

If you mow frequently, so that clippings are short, they can be allowed to fall between the grass blades and not accumulate on top. These clippings are turned into humus by earthworms and soil microorganisms. The amount of fertilizer in one season’s clippings is equivalent to one application of fertilizer.

More frequent application of smaller fertilizer amounts is also helpful in maintaining regular grass growth. Lawn spray services apply fertilizer each time they visit. You can accomplish the same regular availability of nutrients for optimum grass growth by applying a fertilizer containing coated slow-release nitrogen two or three times a year. Organic fertilizer also releases nutrients over a longer time period. Make sure whatever fertilizer you apply contains iron.

One other factor that will improve lawn growth is to apply lime every other year. Our soils and water are acidic and lime will reduce that acidity. It also makes iron in the soil more available for root uptake. Iron makes grass a darker green color.

The best way to irrigate a lawn is to water long enough to reach the full 6-inch depth of the root system and then let it dry for two or three days before irrigating again. Brief daily irrigation encourages short root depth and keeps the top of the soil moist, excellent conditions for weed seed germination.

Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist.

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