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Lawn Care

The Dangers of Lawn Chemicals
Grass Types in Your Lawn
Watering Your Lawn.
Grass Mowing Done Correctly
Lawn Fertilizing
Perennial Weeds in Your Lawn
Broad Leaf Weeds in Lawns
Annual Weeds such as Crabgrass
Other Problems With Lawns
A New Lawn

Practical Pointers on Mowing

The object of mowing is to keep the lawn neat without cutting away too much vital green grass leaf. It is the evenness of cut, not height, that is important for appearance. In fact, a low-clipped lawn may look shaggy quickly because of conspicuous weeds.

The proper height to cut depends mostly on the kind of grass. Bluegrass-fescue lawns are best cut at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, bentgrasses 1/2 to 1 inch. Some portion of green leaf should be left; brown stubble should not show after the lawn is cut. If you mow too close, especially with upright grasses such as bluegrass, your weed problems will increase. The more grass, the fewer weeds. The more shade on the ground the happier the grass roots will be, and you'll make it more difficult for the weed seeds to sprout.

Start mowing in spring as soon as the grass begins growing and continue as long as it makes significant growth in autumn. The time to mow is any time the grass has grown enough so that it has added about 50% to its usual mowing height. It is a mistake to let it get very tall and then scalp it; this "shocks" the lawn and disrupts its growth. With bluegrass you might mow about every 4 or 5 days during the peak growing season in spring; then only every 10 or 12 days during summer - or not mow at all during drought.

Should you pick up clippings?  Maybe. Clippings left to decay on the lawn return some fertility to the soil. With grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue, which grow in an open manner, clippings can settle into the sod - and the easiest thing to do is to leave them. Trailing grasses such as bents and bermudas weave a dense layer of stems that can prevent clippings from reaching the ground, where decay occurs. With them it might be better to collect and remove clippings. If you think clippings look unsightly, collect or sweep them. The fertility lost can easily be replaced by a single feeding. Some people think clippings left on the lawn encourage disease. Others think that leaving them on improves the organic content of the soil.

Get a mower that is big enough for the job. Do not buy an insubstantial machine for economy. So much time is spent mowing the lawn that it is not a luxury to want good equipment. A mower that breaks down all the time, or is hard to start, or that will not adjust easily to the proper cutting height, can take all the fun out of your lawn life.

Rotary mowers (that cut by a horizontally whirling blade) are generally a little more economical and more versatile; they are good for lawns that are mowed above 1 1/2 inches high. But they are more dangerous. Reel mowers (that cut with a "squirrel-cage" of blades brushing against a bed knife) do the neatest job on low-cut grasses. Either kind should be kept sharp and in good condition. Of course, riding mowers are fun but more expensive.

NEXT: When Watering Is Needed