Getting On The Grass

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A healthy lawn is not only an asset to your home, but it could also help the environment. The Saturday Early Show's gardening contributor, Georgia Raimondi, recommends that you start now to get your grass in shape for the summer.

Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, which find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

You don't have to be an expert to grow a healthy lawn. Just keep in mind that the secret is to work with nature, creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests.

Set realistic goals for your lawn, whether you or a professional lawn-care service will be doing the work. And if you choose to use pesticides, use them with care so as to get the most benefit and reduce any risks.

A healthy lawn will not need pesticides. If properly maintained, your lawn will be naturally resistant to weeds and harmful insects.

Tips for a healthy lawn:

  • Mowing: Mow your grass no shorter than 2 inches high to prevent weeds from getting enough sun and water, essentially choking them out of your lawn. Don't mow until grass reaches 3 to 5 inches. Cutting off more than a third of the blade of grass causes too much stress to the plant.
  • Watering: Average soil needs about one inch of water per week. Water your lawn only if it's not raining enough. When you do water, place a pan under the stream so you can measure how much water you're adding.
  • Use organic fertilizer: Chemical fertilizers can have harmful active and inert ingredients, and many are combination fertilizer and pesticide products.
  • Leave the clippings: Leaving the clippings adds essential nutrients back to the soil. In fact, leaving the clippings all season is equal to one full fertilization.
  • Proper pH: Lawns should maintain a pH of between 6.2 and 7.0. Take a soil sample to a garden center or your local cooperative extension center, where they will test it for a nominal fee. You can add lime to increase the pH or sulfur to decrease the pH.

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