Mowing - Lawns should be cut to no lower
than 2 inches during the spring season and 3 inches in the
summer. Do not wait too long to cut your grass. Weekly mowing
or twice a week during the spring will prevent it from going
Frequent mowing allows the clippings to return to the soil
to break down, feed, and perform as a mulch to retain moisture
during hot summers. Sharpen the mower blades twice in a season
(every 12 weeks) to reduce injury to the grass blades and
prevent fungus. Cut the lawn as low as possible late in the
fall to prevent snow mold over winter.
Aeration - Thatch can be a problem in
vigorous lawns. When clippings have been mulched in to the turf
for several years, a thatch layer forms like a woven mat,
preventing water and fertilizer from penetrating down to the
grass roots. A thatch layer thicker than half an inch should be
scored with the detacher or aerated with a core aerator. It is
not necessary to remove all the thatch, only to scratch it so
that it can begin to break down and add nutrients to the
Chemical lawn care - Generally
speaking, a healthy lawn that receives adequate care will
resist weed competition. But there are some resilient weeds
that require chemical treatment to control. The most common is
crabgrass. Crabgrass grows really well in hot, dry conditions.
The good news about crabgrass is that it is an annual weed-that
is starts from seed and dies at the first frost.
Crabgrass is best controlled with a pre-emergent weed killer
that is applied in early spring. Cultural practices such as
deep watering in the summer rather than surface watering and
planting shade trees can hinder crabgrass growth.
Turf grasses consume large amounts of fertilizer especially
nitrogen. Lawns should be fertilized twice in the spring, once
in late summer, and once in the fall. This seems like a lot,
but the grass really will use all of it. Lawns will also
benefit from a yearly application of Dolomitic lime, preferably
in pelletized form. Liming is usually done in the fall.
Insects and diseases can be more difficult to diagnose and
control. There are adequate four-step lawn care programs
available at most garden centers and hardware stores. Timing
and proper application rates are critical in controlling lawn
Too much insecticide put down at the wrong time is
ineffective and potentially toxic. Insects like grubs that feed
on the grass roots need to work their way up closer to the soil
for the chemical control to work. Most insecticides do not have
a long lasting residual effect.
If your lawn seems hopeless it would be a good idea
to contact a lawn care specialist. Licensed
pesticide applicators in New Hampshire often have
effective controls that are not available to the
For a reasonable application rate several times a year most
lawns can be restored to health within one season. Ask your
lawn specialist if all the applications are necessary once the
lawn is healthy and established. If the chemicals are a concern
to you, inquire about organic lawn controls which many
companies now offer.