The perfect cut for stylish lawns



This time of year, the lush and green lawns of early spring are a distant memory and most home owners are faced with dry grass that looks and feels more like hay.

They fight back with water. Lots of it.

While some garden experts recommend letting your lawn go dormant – it will grow right back as cooler weather returns in fall – it is hard to sit back and just let it dry out.

So, if you feel you must water your lawn but are looking to save a few dollars on your utility bill this season, here are tips that will help achieve a healthier lawn along with water conservation.

“A healthy lawn only needs about an inch of water per week,” says John Ladds, the operations manager at Weed Man Canada. “That’s good news for most of us, and can mean a leaner water bill if done correctly.”

The following advice can help stretch your water this season without sacrificing your lawn:

1. Time your watering. Aim for early mornings when possible, to minimize evaporation or sun scorching. Prevent over-watering by putting your sprinkler on a timer.

2. Place your sprinkler wisely. Maximum coverage is nice, but try to avoid watering hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks. This is literally water down the drain.

3. Check your equipment. Make sure all sprinklers and hoses are free of leaks or blockages.

4. Use Mother Nature to your advantage. Divert eavestroughs to collect rainfall in a barrel or other large container and keep it covered to lessen insects and contaminants.

5. Maintain proper lawn care. Avoid mowing too short, as longer grass receives more shade and absorbs more water. Having your lawn aerated once a year can also help water penetrate more deeply.

And remember, good growing needs good mowing and lawn care experts point out that not all mowing techniques are the same.

“Simply mowing your lawn is not enough,” says Ladds. “For the healthiest, most attractive lawns, mowing properly makes all the difference.”

The pros recommend brushing up on the following best practices:

Know when to mow. Remove any debris and mow frequently enough to shave the top third of your grass blades while maintaining a mower height of 7.5 to 8.5 cm. This could mean two to three times per week during periods of rapid growth such as spring and fall.

Stay sharp. A sharp blade ensures that your mower is cutting the grass cleanly.

Improperly shorn or frayed grass is not only unsightly, but can also make your lawn more susceptible to disease.

Remember that new mowers require sharpening too; factory-sharpened blades are not sufficient for mowing. Mower blades need sharpening two to three times per season.

You could consider purchasing a second blade that can be switched out when it’s time to sharpen.

Technique rules. If you mow north/south one week, try east/west the next. Alternating your mowing direction keeps grass blades growing straight, allowing for better air circulation and light penetration. For a professional look, mow in straight lines and overlap your wheels’ line marks slightly. Keep lawn edges looking clean by using a trimmer to shape areas around curbs and sidewalks.

Mulch your clippings. For much of the year it is recommended that you use your mower’s mulching functionality, as this returns valuable nutrients back to the soil. For the first and last mow of the year, however, attaching your mower’s bag can help keep your lawn clean and breathing easily.

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Happy garden, healthy gardener

Gardening is good for you! It can provide a low-impact workout that burns as many as 600 calories per hour. To maximize the benefits, All-Seasons Garden Guide suggests staggering activities in intervals, exaggerating motions, and switching positions and stance every five to 15 minutes. The Old Farmer’s Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide is on sale wherever books and magazines are sold.


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