Landscape & Hardscape Ideas, Lifestyle & Seasonal

Busting the rumors of great grass care

Homeowners pining for gorgeous lawns sometimes fall for old tricks that just don’t work.

A beautiful lawn is well within your reach. A little TLC goes a long way when it comes to a grass landscape. Seeing other lawns that seem greener or healthier than yours may have you seeking out solutions. Beware of false claims and rumors about proper lawn care. Here we dispel a few myths about grass that we’ve seen around.

Burning for growth

In the news lately was a story of a high school baseball field set on fire in the hopes of avoiding a wet-field rain delay. It’s been reported that the gasoline-fueled fire caused $50K-worth of damage. It should be obvious that lighting a baseball field isn’t the way to dry it, but we’ve seen similar thinking in lawn care. The myths that burning prevents weeds, yields thicker grass or makes it greener persist. These rumors probably grew out of the typical farming practice of burning Bermuda grass fields to destroy a build-up of underlying organic matter called “thatch.” Lawn grass species never benefit from burning. Plus, this dangerous practice is banned in most municipalities and most home insurers will not cover any damages made by such fires.

As green as Augusta

Today opens the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Fans and “patrons” as Augusta calls them, may notice the lush greens of the course. Along with the golf swings come a slew of advertisements that include pictures or references to those famous rolling hills. That new fertilizer or different grass seed won’t get you the amazing landscapes of Augusta, though.  There is more than just product and hard work that goes into that grass.

Augusta’s turfgrass is a type of bentgrass, a “cool-season” grass that grows a lot in the spring. You could certainly plant bentgrass if your climate supports it (i.e. you don’t live in the Southeastern states). Installing the same complex, high-tech, temperature-controlled drainage system that is required to get bentgrass to thrive in a hot, humid environment like Georgia could present a challenge to the typical homeowner. At Augusta, if the air hovering above the greens is a tad bit hot, the system can cool it down. If it is cool, the groundskeepers hit the switch to warm them up. The maintenance crew people, all experts in their own right, are flown in from other courses to work on the fields. So many other intricate processes support that awesome grass you see on your screen.

More mowing, more problems

When your teen claims over-growing grass is good for its health, he or she is probably just trying to avoid mowing duty. Letting grass grow long and mowing infrequently isn’t the best way to avoid weeds and cut down on the use of fertilizer. Long grass encourages thatch growth in some regions, and even though there is thatch, remember you can’t burn it on a lawn. Removal will be a much more involved process.

Frequent cutting with a mulching mower allows nitrogen and other nutrients in the clippings to nourish the soil. An Oregon University study found that this can drastically reduce the need for fertilizer by almost half. Removing the clippings just exacerbates the need to add the nutrients artificially. Get that teen to break out the mower once a week, and to cut no more than 1/3 of the height of the grass.

Get great grass without the hype

If your lawn isn’t looking its best, a local landscape designer or contractor can probably help. They have expertise in the types of grass native to your area and which environments that help them flourish. It may be worth the cost to hand over the reins to a professional. One or two seasons of their care can get your grass to look its best and set you on a maintenance path you can easily upkeep.



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