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Grass Cutting Tips and Tricks
Lawn mowing need not be a chore if you follow a few simple rules:

  • Never remove more than one third of the grass length on any one occasion
  • Each run up the lawn with the lawn mower should slightly overlap the previous one; put a mark on each side of the mower as your ‘overlap marker’
  • If you want ‘straight stripes’ on a large lawn or a lawn without a straight edge begin by mowing a straight line down the middle of the lawn. Now mow on either side of it
  • Don’t worry about cutting ALL the grass at the edges of the lawn; if you do a final cut all around the perimeter of the lawn once or twice you’ll get all the end bits and add a ‘professional’ frame to your lawn mowing
  • If your lawnmower has a roller change mowing direction at least every month
  • If your mower has four wheels you MUST overlap each run so that the wheels do not go in the same place all the time. Repeated grass cutting in the same track will produce ruts and tramlines!
  • If the grass is damp or long slow down your speed (not the blade speed)
  • If you are ‘scalping’ the lawn in some places (high spots) raise the mowing height. Scalped areas will often be mossy and/or weedy
  • Mow slopes and shady areas one setting higher than the rest of the lawn
  • If the lawn has a ‘silver sheen’ or ‘frayed’ look after mowing the blade(s) need sharpening
  • If you’re using a cylinder mower and the blade stutters or produces a ribbed or rippled effect in the lawn then either
    • the mower is blunt or under powered or
    • the grass is too long or too wet - slow down your lawn mowing speed and mow more frequently
  • Leave the box off if the mower instructions allow and weeds and weed grasses aren’t seeding;
    • In summer to help conserve moisture
    • To lightly feed the lawn in the growing season
    • For one or two cuts after applying liquid feed, seaweed or iron products

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Written by Bryan Clayton on April 29, 2015

Volcano Mulching is a No No!

Do you like dead trees? Wish you had several of them in your backyard? Of course not! Nobody wants to kill a tree and keep it in their yard. However, no one really looks into how their trees are maintained either. If you wouldn't kill your tree on purpose, make sure you aren't doing it accidentally either; and keep up with correct mulching habits.  I see this all the time when visiting with our lawn care companies in Atlanta Georgia.
That's right, mulching, or incorrect mulching, can kill your trees. If you are like me, you had no idea. Just hire a professional and get it done right, right? Perhaps. However, without your own research and know how, how do you know which professionals will get your yard work right, and which will kill it?  Lets say you're looking for a lawn service in Tampa, Fl, how can you tell if they know their stuff?
Many professional landscapers use a volcano method of mulching around trees. This is not a good way to mulch around trees as it causes too much moisture to build up around the root ball. This can lead to fungus, rot and decay and ultimately lead to the trees death.

The proper way to mulch is to allow the base of the tree to be expose. The best way to do this is to look for the flare out at the base of the trunk.This allows the tree to "breathe", rather, it allows the moisture to escape, preventing the growth of fungus and minimizing rot and decay.
Volcano mulching looks pretty aesthetically pleasing. Knowing what harm can befall your trees should you choose to do this method is important. Therefore, determine if you are going to be living in the same house for a while. If so, you'll want to determine if the tree you are using volcano mulching on can damage your home should it fall due to decay. If you aren't staying in the home for an extended period, say, 3-5 years, you may look into maintaining the trees a bit better as you do not want the next homeowner to get a surprise of a tree through the window.
When mulching your tree, imagine it as more than just something that helps spruce up your yard. Imagine it as something that could ruin the yard completely if not done right. Your yard is an ecosystem, and just like in the rest of the world, if you take something out of the ecosystem, like a tree; it can produce lasting consequences that can drop the value of your home in an instant.

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Lawn Care Tips

1. Less than 2% of the insects found in your backyard are pests. Most are considered beneficial.
2. Add organic matter to your lawn to build the soil — or spread an inch of compost in the fall, and water it in.
3. Corn gluten meal is natures weed & feed! It prevents many weed seeds from germinating and benefits grasses by adding valuable nitrogen to the soil.
4. It’s easier (and less time consuming) to control a few young weeds than it is to wage war on many large, seed-producing monsters.
5. A large part of the food that your lawn needs can be supplied by leaving your grass clippings on the lawn — mulch those grass clippings.
6. Increasing the organic matter in your lawn by as little as 5% will quadruple the soil’s ability to hold water.
7. If possible, do not mow when the lawn is wet. The result will be a very uneven cut.
8. Use an organic, slow-release fertilizer to feed your lawn and the soil. These materials break down slowly, feeding your grass over a longer period of time.
9. Even in the best of soils, chemical lawn fertilizers can kill soil microbes, repel earthworms, and ruin soil structure.
10. Spread crocus throughout your lawn to add an early splash of color. By the time the grass needs to be cut, they will have died-back for the year.
11. Keep your lawn mowed high and mulch your lawn clippings to prevent most crabgrass seed from germinating. A healthy application of corn gluten meal applied in the spring, will also help.
12. Be persistent with dandelions. By repeatedly removing their leaves and flowers, you will keep seeds from spreading and eventually starve the taproot, which kills the weed. Google “Dandelion Terminator” to make the job easy!
13. Select grass varieties for your growing area. Talk to your local nursery or jump online and ask questions at a garden forum to learn what works best.
14. Not only are reel mowers quiet and start when you do, they’re cutting action snips the grass, like a pair of scissors. Rotary mowers tear at turf, leaving it bruised and open for disease.
15. Most lawns need about 1-inch of water per week to thrive. Water in the morning to prevent disease.
16. Aerate your lawn every couple of years to eliminate thatch and to allow air, nutrients, and water to penetrate deep into the root zone.
17. Clover in the lawn is NOT all bad. It is drought tolerant, stays green, fixes nitrogen from the air (which helps feed grasses) and earthworms love it.
18. To promote deep roots and a healthier lawn water longer, but less often. After watering, use a garden trowel to check soil moisture. If it isn’t wet 4 to 6 inches down — keep watering!
19. Get rid of the grubs living in your lawn and you’ll get rid of the moles that are feeding on them.
20. While some weed control is necessary, don’t “freak out” over a few weeds. Having a weed-free yard is pretty much impossible and not really desirable for a healthy lawn.
21. Thatch will not form from grass cuttings. Instead, the clippings will attract earthworms, which break down thatch, aerate the soil, and reduce compaction.
22. Do what you can to keep weeds from going to seed. If you can cut down on the number of weed seeds in your yard, you’ve won half the battle.
23. To crowd out weeds, reduce watering, and improve the overall appearance of your lawn raise the height of your mower to 2-1/2 inches (Southern states) or 3-1/2 inches high (Northern states).
24. After watering, use a garden trowel to check the soil moisture. It should be wet at least 4-inches down to promote deep roots and a healthier lawn.
25. Keep your mower blade sharp. This will not only make mowing easier, it will reduce tearing the blades of grass, which can promote lawn diseases.

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9 Mowing Tips to Cut the Lawn of Your Dreams

Cutting grass is an art, as any well-groomed ballpark shows. We tell you how to turn your lawn into a field of dreams.
Jul 3, 2014
1. Plan Your Attack
Your dad says the only way to mow a lawn is to trim the edges first, which puts the clippings back into the grass to be mulched by the mower. He's not wrong, but you can also mow first and then trim, which takes advantage of the mower's large cutting area to reduce time spent trimming. Pick one approach to avoid constantly swapping tools.
2. Cut a Wide Collar
We're not talking dress shirts here. The collar is the border that you mow first around the lawn's perimeter. Cut it wide enough to turn the mower around without driving into a flower bed.
3. No Buzz Cut, Please
Scalping is the gruesome term for cutting too short. It can leave ugly brown patches in areas of uneven ground and strain root systems. "This leads to weeds breaking through the turf," says Pat Callahan, director of grounds, landscaping, and turf at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Cool-season grasses are cut to 2½ to 3½ inches; warm-season grass is cut to 1 to 3 inches.
4. Watch Your Speed
Haste can make a waste of your lawn. This is particularly true with tall or wet grass, which resists a swift cut. But even in dry conditions, a rushed job leads to uneven shearing and leaves behind clumps of poorly mulched clippings.
5. Don't Look Down
Fact: You'll mow straighter if you focus about 10 feet ahead of the mower rather than directly at the wheels.
6. Bag the Bagging
Picking up clippings prevents them from getting tracked into the house, but mulching as you mow puts the grass particles back into the turf, providing nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil. You'll end up with healthier turf.
7. Alternate the Pattern
Grass leans in the direction in which you mow it. Switching up your pattern from week to week encourages grass to grow straighter and healthier.
8. Trim Ambidextrously
A typical straight-shaft string-trimmer head spins counterclockwise and is operated right to left. This means that, if you're in the right-handed majority, you'll waste time walking sideways or backward. Grasp the trimmer handle with your left hand so you can simply walk forward and make a cleaner job of it. You'll find it's faster, safer, and less tiring to trim this way.
9. Edge and Trim at Once
Hold the string-trimmer head vertically to cut a clean edge (along a curb, for instance), and turn it horizontal to trim around bushes or landscape features. Don't trim and edge in separate trips. "Look at your property and find a continuous path you can follow to trim and edge in one pass," says Steve Byrne, president of Edgit, which makes trimmer accessories. "This gets the job done quickly without having to backtrack."

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