Lawn Care Essentials – Mowing and Watering

By Vimbai Ruvengo

Lawn care is not just about having the right tools for mowing and a sophisticated irrigation system. It relies on the skill in executing the tasks. To maintain a healthy, dense, green, actively growing lawn mowing and watering are one of the most important care essentials; this article aims to give you hints and pointers on how to properly mow and water your lawn.

MOWING

Grasses have a balance between the size of their root systems and the length of their blades (leaves). The plants will be at their healthiest when the roots and the blades are in balance and will be able to handle all kinds of stress. Mowing actually helps make your grass grow thicker because the tip of each blade contains hormones that suppress growth. When you cut the lawn, you remove these tips allowing the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.

  • Mow high and less often– Mowing your lawn could be one of your favourite things to do regarding garden maintenance.  Adjust the mower height such that you never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass height. Mowing high reduces soil evaporation and ensures the lawn retains moisture for longer and keeps your grass greener for longer. This also means that you will mow less more often resulting in a thick and lush looking lawn. In winter, the grass grows slower, therefore one should avoid frequent mowing unless the grass is actively growing.  Mowing too low leaves your lawn prone to weeds and it will be less capable of coping in the event of a drier conditions and high temperatures.
  • Mulch with grass clippings – By leaving your grass clippings on your lawn, you are retaining much-needed moisture and nutrients to the soil in your yard. The trimmings will break down and release nutrients to your lawn. In order to attain the best results, use a mulching lawnmower. It cuts up the grass clippings into very small pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster they can decompose and act as fertiliser. Furthermore, the smaller clippings are barely noticeable and give the lawn a fuller appearance. Studies show that clippings can provide 30% of nitrogen to the lawn.
  • Use sharp mower blades– Keep blades sharp and dry. A dull blade will tear instead of cutting cleanly leaving the lawn open to diseases and pests. Sharpen mower blades as often as possible.
  • Mow when the grass is dry – The blades tend to stick together if the lawn is not dry making the cut very uneven and the clippings can clog the mower. Furthermore, in the event that there are patches of diseased grass; the disease is easily spread if the lawn is mowed wet.
  • Alternate mowing direction – This keeps the grass from being pushed over in just one direction and being damaged by the sun. The grass blades tend to grow in the direction they are moved. Alternating the mowing direction will result in an upright growth.

WATERING

  • Water less often – Water deeply about two times per week, rather than daily. Watering daily will give your grass a shallow root system.  Shallow root systems dry out fast and weaken your lawn.  Watering less often encourages root development, meaning that the grass roots will forage deeper in the soil for water.
  • Water early in the morning – Watering early in the morning will ensure that your lawn dries completely before nightfall.  A wet lawn at night, on a regular basis, can lead to fungus and disease.
  • Negative effects of over-watering – the grasses’ roots can only absorb water some centimeters deep into the soil. Overwatering will result in leaching away of nutrients resulting in a sickly-looking lawn which will encourage the development of diseases.
  • Incorporate a xeriscaping garden design – xeriscaping is identified as a water-saving gardening design. Water conservation and a healthy, beautiful lawn are not mutually exclusive. You can manage water usage, and keep your lawn healthy. See the link below for full details on xeriscaping.
  • Sprinkler maintenance – If you have sprinklers, check them regularly to be sure you are getting complete coverage and ensure the nozzles are functioning properly.
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