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Volume 15, Issue 18 ~ May 3 - May 9, 2007

Turn a New Leaf in Your Lawn Care

Cut it tall and let it fall

As you fire up your lawnmower — or oil up the pushmower — for the first time this year, consider making your lawn healthier and easier to maintain.

Many Bay Gardener readers are learning to groom a beautiful lawn without wasting money on weed and feed fertilizers and wasting time spreading them. A number of these readers have approached me at Wheelers Hardware, Happy Harbor, Richard’s Grill, Lothian Ruritan Club meetings and South County Concert Association performances to share their success from the Bay Gardener adage, cut it tall and let it fall. Loyal readers also report that contrary to previous fears, they are still mowing their lawns only weekly — not more frequently, as they’d feared.

Subscribing to such a lawn care regimen — cutting grass higher and letting clippings settle through the blades — makes sense. Grass clippings contain three to four percent nitrogen and, being succulent, are easily decomposed in shaded ground.

By allowing the grass blades to remain at least three and a half to four inches tall, you gain two advantages. First, the soil’s surface remains constantly shaded and cool, promoting rapid decomposition. Such fast decomposing returns nitrogen and other nutrients into the ground, improving the soil. Second, these longer grass blades can photosynthesize more, growing deeper roots able to absorb more nutrients and water. Stronger grass plants deter weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass, goosegrass and chickweed. These weeds cannot spread outward with taller grass.

By cutting it tall and letting it fall, you’ll reduce your fertilizer bill, use less gasoline in your lawnmower and save the grass’s energy by cutting blades and not stems. A tall lawn will also leave your mower blade sharper longer and you — or someone else — safer from flying objects dislodged by the spinning mower blade.

Cut it tall and let it fall. Try this Bay Gardener mantra for yourself for a happier — and more relaxing — lawn.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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