Pass it on: John Deere scientist shares tips on lawn care

Never cut more than one-third of the blades of grass at one time. Photo: John DeereNever cut more than one-third of the blades of grass at one time. Photo: John Deere

As a professional landscaper, you know turf care is about much more than mowing. In fact, you may have clients who enjoy mowing their own grass but opt to hire your company to take care of more specialized work. If that’s the case, do them a favor and share these lawn-care tips from Mark Schmidt, principal scientist at John Deere: 

1. Don’t cut your grass too short. Cut only about one-third of the grass blade at any one time. “Shorter clippings break down more easily, allowing some of the natural nitrogen to return to the soil,” Schmidt said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “If you cut too much at a time, the long clippings can cause stress on the grass.”

2. Aerating encourages deep rooting, improves water, air and nutrient penetration, and promotes the growth of healthy organisms.

3. Keep mower blades sharp and balanced.

4. Don’t mow in the same direction every time; doing so can leave the turf matted down and inhibit growth.

In Northern climates, fertilize in the fall to give grass an early push after the snow melts in the spring. If you live in the South, apply fertilizer before the spring rains come. Avoid high-nitrogen products no matter where you live.

Alec Kowalewski, a professor and turf specialist at Oregon State University, told the Arizona Republic the types of weeds in a yard provide clues on what your turf needs to be more healthy. “If you have dandelions in your lawn, you’re probably not irrigating enough,” he said. “Clover? Not enough fertilizer. Crabgrass means you’re scalping the lawn – mowing the grass too short.”

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