David R. Mellor is a diamond cutter.
That is, he's the head groundskeeper at venerable Fenway Park in Boston. And as assistant groundskeeper in Milwaukee, he was among the first to master elaborate on-field mowing patterns. Now in his new book, "Picture Perfect," he shares his wealth of knowledge and invites others to turn their yards into masterpieces. He visited The Early Show to talk about it.
Some consider Mellor a Picasso of the playing fields – an artist whose canvas is Bluegrass or Fescue. He is one of the people to credit for all those fancy geometric patterns you see mowed into the fields of so many big-league parks. He has designed checkerboards, tartan plaids, concentric circles, even starbursts and weird wave patterns that now you can do, too.
" Picture Perfect: Mowing Techniques for Lawns, Landscapes, and Sports" shows homeowners how to stripe their lawns like a pro.
Here are some of his basic lawn-care suggestions to get started:
- Cut grass at least once a week, trying not to remove more than one third of the blade in any cutting. If you let clippings fall, it's an excellent way of returning nutrients to the soil.
- Keep mower blades sharp to ensure a crisp cut and prevent disease.
- Do a soil test. It will help you determine what kind and how much fertilizer to use. County co-operative extension agents can help you with soil test information for your area.
- Read fertilizer instructions carefully. Don't assume that if a little is good, a lot must be better. Slow fertilizers last longer and don't promote a "flush" of growth.
For those who want to stripe their lawns like a pro, Mellors has these advanced pattern tips:
- Maintain patterns by going back over lines, or every other line, to etch them in.
- Change mowing pattern and direction every third week so the grass doesn't get stressed or weak.
- To make straight lines, don't look down! Pick a point in the distance and mow straight to it. Go slowly. (Tip: If you have an upstairs window, a bird's eye view can enable you to spot-check your progress.)
- Make turns off the lawn, if possible. It will not only mean cleaner lines but will decrease stress at the turn points. Otherwise, make "Y" turns and lift the blades off the ground as you turn.
- A mower with blades that turn in an upright position (as opposed to most horizontal rotary mowers) will help promote patterns because it naturally lays down the blades.
- Use a roller with water added for weight. Some garden centers sell rollers, or they can be rented.
Also, check to see if your dealer or landscape center can outfit rollers on the back of your mower. Be careful when using weighted rollers that they are not too heavy. You only want to bend the grass blades, not compact the soil.