What is the proper mowing height?
Lowering the mower blade makes a lawn less tolerant of environmental stresses. Maintain your lawn at the highest cutting height that is acceptable for its intended use. A higher level shades grass roots during hot weather and provides more leaf surface for photosynthesis, 2-1/2 to 3 inches is best. Make sure that the mower blade is sharp before cutting or you may shred the grass tips and leave them open to disease.
How often should I mow?
This is dependent on the time of year, amount of water, fertilizer, etc. However, do not cut off more than 1/3 of the grass height at each mowing. For example, if you maintain the lawn at a 3” height then it should not be allowed to grow more than 5” before it is cut. Cutting a lawn short after growing it long can result in the lawn going into “shock” and being more susceptible to disease.
How much water does my lawn need?
Lawns vary in their type of grasses, soil, and depth of rooting. These factors influence water needs. The best guide to watering is personal observation of soil and grass conditions. Water the lawn just before the grass wilts. Wilting is imminent when footprints remain on the lawn for several minutes after walking on it. Or, use a soil probe to check for evidence of dryness. Usually 1” of water will wet the ground to a depth of 4-6”. Water slowly and deeply. Light frequent watering promotes shallow root systems which stress the grass in hot weather. People with sprinkler systems usually water too much and can promote fungal infections.
What is the best time of day for watering?
Wet grass and cool night temperatures are often a combination that leads to disease activity. However, research has shown that it is the duration of leaf wetness that has a greater effect on disease activity and not simply night watering per se, since grass is often wet at night from dew. It follows then that watering in the early morning or late evening might increase the duration of leaf wetness and therefore increase disease. Late morning to late afternoon is the best time and night watering should be feasible unless fungal activity is present.
Should I leave my clippings down or pick them up?
Today’s mulching mowers will grind lawn clippings up to the point where they are not noticeable. These clipping are an ideal added source of food for the grass plants. However, if when you are finished mowing, there are noticeable clumps of grass on the lawn then they should be picked up. Any clumps left will smother and kill the good grass underneath.
Do I need lime?
The only way to tell for certain is with a PH soil test which measures the soil acidity level. Grasses grow best at a PH level of 6.2. Lime neutralizes acid soil and raises the PH level. Plentiful rains in Massachusetts tend to leach lime out quickly. As a consequence, our soils are naturally acid and need lime.
How do I know if I have grubs?
Although there are many kinds of grubs, most lawn grubs are the larval stage of the Japanese beetle. They feed in May and June and again in August to October on grass roots. The affected area will turn brown and have no root connection. It can usually be “rolled up like a carpet”. A healthy lawn can sustain a small population of grubs. But when that population reaches 5-10 per square foot it must be treated or damage will result.
What do I do about moles?
Moles are a small mouse sized mammals that burrow in the lawn leaving raised tunnels throughout. They are carnivorous and feed on grubs, earthworms, and other beetles in the soil. The tunnels are their searching pattern looking for food. Just because you have moles does not mean that you have grubs. There are many home-based myths that claim they will rid your yard of moles (chewing gum, human hair, pinwheels etc). There are also many commercial products (poisons, baits, gasses and repellents) that will claim the same thing. Most will not work. Moles often live in woods and come out into your lawn to forage. They are very territorial and even though you see many tunnels there may be only one or two moles. The best cure is to trap them but you must be vigilant. You must stomp down all the tunnels and wait for the first to pop back up. That will be their active home based tunnel. Put the trap there and wait a day or two. If you have not caught them in that time move it to another spot.
I have a light green fast growing grass in the lawn, what is it?
That is nutsedge. It is not really a grass but is in the sedge family. It is a difficult problem to get rid of because it can spread from seed, underground runners or from small nutlets. Even though it pulls out easily, that will not get rid of it. There are chemicals that can control it, but they take time over a period of years to completely eliminate it from your landscape.
I have white fuzz on my Hemlocks, what is it?
A small insect called the Wooly Adelgid is attacking many Hemlocks in the Northeast. If you look closely at the needles of your Hemlocks you will see the white material on them. The insect sucks the juices out of the plant and because of the huge numbers involved in time will kill the plant. If you have small plants a chemical spraying or soil drench annually will work to control them. Larger plants may be more difficult to save. It is better not to plant new Hemlocks but to look at some other alternatives.