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Summer Lawn Care

There are several competing concepts to “care for the environment” while keeping your yard and landscape looking great.  Below I’ll lay out some practices that benefit our environment, saves you time, and keeps money in your pocket all while helping your lawn look good.  
Most people like a beautiful, green lawn and often use more fertilizer and water than necessary.
More mowing, extra back-breaking work in bagging grass clippings, and higher water bills often result.  It is a two-step plan that involves not bagging your lawn clippings and watering just once (if possible) each week.  Between March and September, the volume of residential solid waste increases 20 to 50 % due to grass clippings.  During the spring and summer months, grass clippings put extra work on the garbage collection system and use up valuable landfill space.
First, don’t bag up your grass clippings.  By leaving then on the lawn, you won’t have to stop every 10 minutes to empty your mower bag.  Homeowners following this “Don’t Bag It” lawn care plan report they mow their lawns in 38% less time than when they bagged the grass clippings. 
By leaving the clippings on the lawn, you will allow them to work their way back into the soil, recycling itself.  Just imagine a free fertility product that was slow release over the complete growing season and provided all the nutrients your lawn needs.  Indeed, this comes from the lawn clippings.  
Grass clippings left on your lawn don’t contribute to thatch, but return valuable nutrients to the soil.  They contain about 4 % nitrogen, 0.5 %phosphorus and about 2 % potassium, as well as all the necessary minor elements plants need. If you want to go the extra mile, you could bag up some of your grass clippings to make an excellent compost for gardens.  Compost use is the best way to improve garden soil because it returns nutrients to the soil and improves the soils physical characteristics.  The second step is changing your watering regimen.  The best time to water is early morning so less water is lost to evaporation.  The worst time to water is in the evening because the lawn stays wet all night.  This mimics the time of day when the lawn is naturally wet from the dew each morning.  Watering at night keeps the leaves wet for a much, much longer time frame and absolutely begs for disease to take your lawn.
Water is a needed component for a great lawn.  During the driest period of summer, our lawns usually require about 1 inch of water every 5 to 6 days.   If an irrigation system runs for 15 minutes every other day, you are shortchanging your lawn and not getting the most out of your water bill as well as the investment in the sprinkler system.  Furthermore, lawns watered too frequently tend to develop shallow root systems which make them more susceptible to grub damage.
If possible, apply about an inch of water to your lawn all on one day each week.  This will soak the soil far deeper than the same total amount spread out over three applications in a week.  If water runs off the lawn before 1 inch is applied, turn the sprinkler off, let the water soak in for about an hour, and then continue to water later the same morning.  
I challenge you to take this approach with your lawn and see if you have a healthier, lower cost lawn with fewer problems. 

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