Springtime is the time of the year for thoughts of cool sunny days and the start of a fresh new landscape. A beautiful and healthy lawn is good for our environment and can resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests.
Here are some tips from the EPA to follow:
• Develop healthy soil. Make sure your soil has the right pH balance, key nutrients, and good texture. You can buy easy-to-use soil analysis kits at hardware stores or contact your local County Cooperative Extension Service for a soil analysis.
• Choose the right grass for your climate. If your area gets very little rain, don't plant a type of grass that needs a lot of water. Select grass seed that is well suited to your climate and other growing conditions such as the amount of sunlight and rain your lawn receives. Your local County Extension Service can advise you on which grasses grow best in your area.
• Longer is Better. Make sure the lawn mower blades are sharp. Grass that is slightly long makes a strong, healthy lawn with few pest problems. Weeds have a hard time taking root and growing when grass is around 2½ to 3½ inches for most types of grass.
• Water Early. It is time to water if footprint impressions stay in the lawn and do not spring back. Water early in the morning and only for short periods of time so the soil may absorb the water. Longer grass has stronger roots and retains water better. Be sure to check water restrictions before watering.
• Correct thatch buildup. Thatch is a layer of dead plant materials between the grass blades and the soil. When thatch gets too thick, deeper than 3/4 of an inch, water and nutrients are prevented from getting into the soil and reaching the roots of the grass. Overusing synthetic fertilizer can create heavy layer of thatch, and some kinds of grass are prone to thatch buildup.
• Recycle grass. Don't pick up the grass clippings after you mow. Clippings will return nutrients and moisture to the soil. Consider buying a mulching lawn mower. This will cut the grass clippings finer and blow them into the lawn.
• Let your lawn breathe. Once a year, remove small plugs of earth to allow air and water to aerate the grass roots or wear your golf shoes when mowing.
• Invite a few weeds and insects into your lawn. Think of your lawn as a small piece of nature where pests have their place. Often, nature provides its own pest control in the form of birds or other insects that feed on the insects we consider nuisances.
• Use manual tools. Tools that don't require electric or gasoline engines are especially handy for small yards or small jobs. There are hand tools available that will meet a wide variety of lawn and garden needs, like lightweight, quiet, easy-to-use reel push mowers that generate no emissions.
For more tips and information you can visit http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-spring.htm