Saturday, August 4, 2012

August home-maintenance checklist - cont.

Pamper the lawn

Homeowners can’t successfully emulate the tightly trimmed golf-course look because they don’t have a golf course’s budget and army of maintenance professionals. Instead, the best thing you can do to achieve a good-looking lawn is to mow frequently and high (three inches or more – or just set your mower blades as high as they’ll go). This discourages weeds and trains the grass to grow in thickly. High, frequent cutting encourages roots to grow deep and retain water, so you’ll need to water less frequently. Let the clippings fall onto the lawn to add nourishment.

If you’ve been watering the lawn this summer, keep it up: Water infrequently but deeply, giving it an inch to an inch and a half of water each time (measure by putting an empty tuna can on the lawn). Water early in the day to avoid evaporation — not at night, which invites disease. You’ll know it’s time to water when your footprints don’t spring back when you walk across the grass, when the grass gets a blue tinge or when you can’t easily push a screwdriver or steel rod into the soil.
If your lawn has turned brown, don’t try to rescue it by watering now. That’s hard on the grass plants and a waste of water. It’ll come back when the rain starts in the fall.

The best time to fertilize depends on your climate and the grass type in your lawn. In general, avoid fertilizing during extremely hot weather or periods of drought. Do not use products with nitrogen when your lawn isn’t green – it can encourage weeds. Start thinking about fertilizing at the end of this month and consult professionals who sell lawn-care products or call your local home-extension service (Wikipedia links to state cooperative extension services here) to get advice on what to use and exactly when to use it. August is the perfect time to root dandelions out of the lawn using a long-handled forked tool or with judicious use of an herbicide.

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