When you start mowing this Spring & Summer, there is an excellent way to save your back, time, & money. By using proper mowing and watering methods you can do all of the above. The first thing you need to do is mulch (mow) your yard!
There are several reasons to mulch your yard when you mow. First of all it will save your back from having to bag, lift, and carry plastic bags filled with grass. This in turn will save overall time spent on yard work. Probably close to half. By removing the grass and leaf clippings from your yard, you are taking away the bi-product that the fertilizers have produced. Therefore wasting money you spent adding them to your lawn. The goal is simple, make your yard feed itself or close. If you have used any of the fertilizers that I have suggested in earlier articles, they are filled with living microbes. We are increasing their population in your soil with the natural fertilizers. These living microbes break down any grass or leaf clippings that are left on your lawn and help feed the soil. Therefore you do not have thatch build up.
Weed control is generally the next item on the list. When the soil is not healthy or there are bare spots in you lawn, weeds appear. Three things weeds do not like is healthy soil, mowed, or competition. Unless you have cool season grasses on your lawn this time of the year, you will either have to mow, pull, or spot spray your weeds with at least 10% Pickling Vinegar. Until the warm season grasses start growing. Use caution when spraying with Pickling Vinegar. It is a non selective Herbicide. That means any grass or weeds you spray it on will kill. Use this product, non deluded on sunny days. The hotter the better. It does work when it is sunny and at least 75 degrees. Add about a tablespoon of liquid soap to the vinegar and some orange oil if possible. It will not harm your soil as it breaks down into the lawn. Mowing your lawn regularly taking about the top 1/3 of the grass leaf will help thicken your lawn if Bermuda or St. Augustine. If you have cool season grasses with some thin spots on your lawn, over seed to help thicken. Cool season grasses generally do not have runners like the warm season grasses previously mentioned. With weather still being cool mowing lower helps expose the soil to warm sunlight, germinating seeds, helps warm grasses start to grow and weakens the weeds as you cut them. Later in the season as it starts to get warmer to hot, start raising your blade on the mower. This will choke out weeds, thicken the grass, shading the soil keeping it cooler and help keep the moisture from evaporating. Start mowing your Bermuda and St. Augustine early Spring at 1", letting the grass grow to about 1 1/2 inches before cutting. As it gets hotter gradually increase the height to 2" and by September about 2 1/2 inches. Average maintenance around 1 1/2 inches. Keeping the 1/3 rule, cut the grass at 2". Tall Fescue & cool season grasses maintain heights at 2 1/2 inches to 3". During times of drought or extreme hot weather the height should be maintained from 3" to 4". This with proper watering will keep your grass green all Summer.
Water your lawn at the rate of 1" to 2" per week. Rain included. A good way to measure your rate of watering is to set a cup or pan outside in your lawn when beginning to water. Check the time when starting and leave the water on long enough to fill it one inch. This way you will know how long the water needs to be on before you water else where. When its cool and not raining you may water once a week at 1" or twice a week at 1/2" per time. When hot increase it up to 2" per week. By watering deep and irregular, you are causing the root system to go deep into the soil for water making the grass healthy and strong. This also saves on your water bill. Shallow watering keeps the water near the top of the soil that will cause a weak root system and fungal problems, especially in cool season grasses.
By maintaining your lawn from the articles written, you will have a much lower cost for yard care, a greener lawn, less labor intensive, and little to minimal pest problems. In nature, it is survival for the fittest. Healthy soil creates healthy strong plants. If you notice a problem spot on the grass, shrubs, and flowers don't look quite right, the next day or two you'll see pest all over that plant or area. This is nature's way of cleaning it up! The plants and grass are in stress. The liquid fertilizer formula in the past article can be mixed in the same spray container with the pest controls that follow. Saving you time. If there are chewing insects such as caterpillars, mix a product called BT with the liquid fertilizer, and a gallon of water. As the pest chews on the plants, the microbes in the BT will cut and rot it's insides. If it is a beetle or hard shelled type pest, ad 2 oz. of Orange Oil to the liquid fertilizer. The Orange Oil acts as a solvent and melts the exoskeleton on the pest. I would take the liquid fertilizer and add it to a bucket, mop or other and drench the stressed plant. You'll see results the next day. If the shrub is still looks under stress by the second day drench again. You probably won't see any pest. These products will not harm birds. If you have problems with fire ants you can take the fertilizer mixture or 2 cups of compost tea, add 2 oz. of Orange Oil, to a gallon of water. Put it into the bucket and drench the mound. Another product that is the natural predator to fire ants, fleas, and grub worms is beneficial nematodes. You can apply these to the soil with water and as directed. They are carnivorous and work 24/7!