Cyclone Rake Blog: April 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Mowing Made Easy

Spring grass mowing season is here, and it is a good time to remember some best practices for mowing your lawn and keeping it looking great.
            Proper mowing height is extremely important. The general rule of thumb is to only remove about one-third of the grass height. Mowing at a taller height, more frequently, helps grass plants stay healthy for the long-term and grow healthy root systems ready for supporting plants during period of stress.    The recommended grass height after spring mowing is usually two inches to three inches, but may be more or less, depending on the type of grass. Consult your local garden center or a university extension guide to make sure you are mowing at the proper height.
            Grass clippings are best left to decompose in the yard, providing natural nutrients and organic matter for a healthy lawn. But collecting some grass clippings in the spring can prevent excessive mulch buildup. A grass collection system, like the Cyclone Rake, can help you collect lawn trimmings to compost, especially during spring periods of heavy grass growth.

            The type of mower that you use is largely a matter of personal preference and budget. Lawn tractors and other self-propelled mowers are a good fit for larger lawns. Walk-behind, or “push”mowers, are a great fit for smaller lawns and provide the operator with some additional exercise.
            Walk-behind mowers can also be a useful tool on damp spots in larger lawns in the spring. While mowing when grass is wet is never recommended – this can promote the spread of disease – spring rains can make the ground spongy and more likely to be compacted from a heavier lawn tractor. Low-lying or poorly drained spots can be mowed with a walk-behind mower to reduce compaction. Remember to keep the lawnmower blades sharp, no matter what kind of mower you use; a good sharpening every month or so is usually recommended.

            Keeping the grass at a longer, healthy height can also help you put lines or “stripes” in your yard. A simple way to make back-and-forth stripes is simply to mow in straight lines, mowing each pass in the opposite direction of the last one. A lawn roller or striping kit for your lawnmower can also help create this look. A checkerboard appearance can be created by rolling in the opposite direction which you’ve mown. Try creating your own “checkerboard” by simply alternating the direction you mow with each cutting. While not as dramatic an effect as that done with a roller or kits, you’ll get a nice appearance and keep the grass healthier by not mowing in the same direction all the time.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring Seeding Dead Spots in the Yard

        Winter can be hard on your yard. Snow and cold, wet weather can create conditions for turf disease. Damage from winter traffic and, especially in urban areas, materials used to treat roads can also create dead patches in nearby yards. Critters like voles can also create winter damage. By following widely recommended growing practices, and giving those dead spots some careful care, you can patch those spots this spring.
            Many turfgrasses are cool-season grasses, meaning they are ideally established in the
Compost acts as a slow-release
fertilizer for your turf. 
fall. But spring patching for winter dead spots is very possible. If you do decide to patch spots this spring, pay special attention to the soil. Dead spots could be the result of disease or cold-weather kill; but poor soil fertility and drainage can also make it tough for grass to thrive. Thoroughly work up the soil before seeding, when the soil is not too wet, adding plenty of organic matter, like compost. Compost adds structure to the soil and acts as a slow-release fertilizer, providing turf with necessary nutrients. Spreading about an inch of compost across existing turf also can also provide soil-building benefits.

            Newly seeded turf needs to be kept moist, but not soggy – a challenge during periods of heavy spring rains. Heavy rains can wash soil away from seeds; try using burlap, or synthetic materials available at most garden centers, which may be placed over grass seeding on dead spots to manage erosion. These covers also can prevent intrusion and seed-snatching by birds and other hungry critters. One benefit to spring seeding: there are usually plenty of other things for critters to munch in the spring, making your new lawn seeding a less attractive option in the spring smorgasbord for wildlife.