Prevent Common Lawn-care Mistakes

March 29, 1992

Four common mistakes can keep your lawn from looking its best. Avoidthem, and your grass has a chance to be the envy of the neighborhood, says Dr. Thomas R. Turner, turf grass management specialist for theCooperative Extension Service, Maryland Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The four common mistakes are:

Using poor quality seed -- You might pay 50 percent to 100 percent more for varieties suited to Maryland conditions, but the added cost is worthwhile when you consider germination results and pesticide reduction. Do not seed later than April 1 if you want to avoid heat stress and weed competition.

Over-fertilizing -- Too much fertilizerin the spring or summer only increases the frequency of mowing. Apply no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for abright green color. Do not fertilize from early April through mid-May if you want to help reduce disease problems.

Applying pre-emergent crab grass control chemicals too late -- Normally, this should be done around April 10 in central Maryland. But an early spring may require moving that date up to April 1. The proper date is two weeks later in western Maryland and one to two weeks earlier on the lower Eastern Shore.

Mowing grass too short -- Cutting cool-season grasses at a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches can reduce weed competition 50 percent to 80 percent, compared to a mowing height of less than 2 inches. The higher mowing height also improves hardiness.

Extension specialists in Maryland have devised a Mowing Gauge wooden ruler to help homeowners determine correct cutting height for various types of turf grass. The ruler accompanies a new booklet (FS 637), titled "Effect Lawn Care with Reduced Pesticide and Fertilizer Use."

Contact the Extension Home and Garden Information Center, 1-800-342-2507.

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