(BPT) - Believe it or not, mowing season is now upon us. And depending on where you live, you may have less time to prepare than you think. Making sure your lawn stays healthy, green and beautiful all season long is a great goal — and with the right approach, it's not hard to achieve.
Here are tips from the lawn pros at John Deere to help you grow a healthy, attractive lawn, so you can enjoy it with your family all summer long.
1. Prep your mower
Whether your first mow is days or weeks away, now's the time to get your mower ready. The most important things are to make sure your mower blade is sharp, clean and above all, properly installed. A dull blade won't provide a clean cut, which can make your grass look ragged. Even worse, it injures the grass, causing vulnerability to insects and disease. Your blade must also be correctly installed, as an upside-down blade won't cut.
A yearly tune-up is recommended that would include an oil change and replacing spark plugs and filters. John Deere offers both a Home Maintenance Kit that includes all you need to perform this tune-up or, if you want to save time, call your John Deere Dealer — they offer spring maintenance specials on all types of turf equipment.
2. Set a proper mowing height
Cutting too short can cause problems down the road, as the lower canopy of a shorter lawn allows more light to reach the soil, which can allow weeds to prosper. On the other hand, if you let grass grow too long and then cut it down dramatically, that can stress the turf. This may cause grass to pull nutrients from its root system, causing a thinning, unhealthy lawn.
The rule of thumb is to cut no more than one-third of the leaf — so to maintain a two-inch lawn, cut down by one inch when it reaches three inches. Some grasses flourish with longer or shorter cuts, so it can help to find out what species your lawn has and ask advice about ideal length from your local county extension.
3. Mow according to need
To help nurture a thriving lawn, mowing should occur when grass needs a trim, not just when it's convenient (like on weekends). If your lawn is heavily fertilized and irrigated, or during active growing, you may need to mow twice a week. But if your grass has entered a dormant season or is suffering from drought, it may not need to be mowed at all. In early spring, your grass might not need cutting yet, but winter annual weeds that pop up before grass starts growing can be somewhat controlled by mowing until the weather warms up. Keep an eye on your lawn and watch the weather in your area to set a proper schedule for mowing, ensuring you trim only when needed.
4. Maximize clippings
Your lawn clippings are full of nitrogen-rich nutrients that help feed the soil, so it's best to deposit them right back onto the lawn. If you mow regularly, you shouldn't have big clumps of clippings, but just enough to provide good nutrients — reducing how much fertilizer you'll need. Even leaves can be mulched, as long as there aren't so many that the grass is smothered with them. Mulch mowing allows clippings to be cut finely enough so they can't be seen when redistributed into the lawn. Using the John Deere MulchControl™ Kit with One-Touch Technology is an easy way to mulch while you mow.
5. Mow grass when dry
If it's rained recently, or early in the morning when there's still dew on the lawn, resist the temptation to mow until the grass is thoroughly dry. Wet conditions can cause grass clumping and excessive buildup on the mower deck underside, leaving you with a poor-quality cut. Cutting when your grass is dry will allow you to get the sharpest trim on your lawn to ensure it looks beautiful all summer long.
6. Plan your mowing paths
Wherever possible, be sure to mow your lawn in a straight line. It's also recommended to overlap your mowing paths by about 2-4 inches, to avoid leaving unsightly strips of uncut grass. Altering your mowing path prevents compaction that occurs from mowing on the same path. This also can create a beautiful-looking mowing pattern, adding curb appeal.
7. Water in the morning
The experts all agree it's best to water your grass in the morning. If you water in the evening, droplets can cling to the grass and promote fungus growth overnight. Watering in the morning allows for moisture to reach the roots of the grass, improving overall lawn health.
Following these tips, you can ensure that your lawn will stay as healthy as possible for you and your family to enjoy, all season long. Visit YourBackyardTips.Deere.com for more tips on how to keep your grass looking great this summer.