Are you a turf terrorist?
You know who you are. Sure, the grass in your front yard looks lush and green right now, but in your hands, it'll be dead by the Fourth of July.
It's not that you want to wipe out every blade. It's just that you treat the lawn mower like a horticulturally lethal weapon.
How can you be stopped before you kill again? Trey Rogers, an associate professor of turf grass science at Michigan State University, suggests you stop worrying about fertilizer and sprinklers, and think more about how you mow.
''Seventy percent of the problems we have with lawns are directly or indirectly related to the way homeowners mow,'' says Rogers, a consultant to Briggs & Stratton, a manufacturer of lawn mower engines.
Rogers has three rules when it comes to mowing:
1. Never cut grass more than one-third its height during any one mowing.
2. Alternate mowing patterns.
3. Leave grass clippings on the lawn.
By keeping grass blades long, the turf has a chance to feed properly and will grow more densely, leaving weeds with no place to grow, he says.
Changing mowing patterns -- east-west one week, perhaps north-south the next -- will spare the lawn from the stress of ruts and soil compacting caused by repeated mowings.
Clippings provide valuable nutrients for the soil, and don't contribute to thatch as many homeowners believe, Rogers says.
''Most homeowners want to bag clippings because they're scalping the grass in the first place,'' he says. ''If you keep your grass taller and follow the one-third rule, you won't even notice the clippings.''
More tips are available from Rogers' Web site: www.yarddoctor.com.
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