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Six of the best: Mowing Machines
(Story from the UK - England)
If your grass-cutter has seen better days, now is the time to consider a new addition to your garden gadget collection – a lawnmower is, after all, the flagship machine of your outdoor arsenal
Mowing tips to maintain a healthy lawn
The roar of power mowers and the sweet scent of fresh-cut grass fill the air on sunny afternoons this time of year. Typically the weekly chore of mowing is, at times, a dreaded and hurriedly done deed. Such a simple chore, so vital to good lawn health, is often not taken seriously.
In fact, good mowing habits play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lawn. A well-mowed lawn not only looks better, it is also more resistant to weeds, insects and diseases. Here are a few tips on good lawn-mowing techniques:
KEEP IT SHARP -- A sharp mower blade makes an impact, especially if you are blasting through tall, thick grass. A sharp blade means less work. It also gives the grass that crisp, clean look after mowing.
Beauty aside, a sharp blade is important in maintaining a healthy piece of turf. Ragged leaf tips invite disease. Dull mower blades can cause the lawn to have a grayish cast a day after mowing. This is because the leaf tips have been shredded instead of cleanly cut, and they then turn brown.
MOW HIGH AND LET IT LIE -- Mowing frequency depends on the type of grass, the time of year and how often you water and fertilize. The general rule of thumb is to mow when the grass grows to one-fourth to one-third taller than its recommended mowing height. For instance, if your lawn is a Kentucky bluegrass, red fescue and perennial rye mix (most local lawns have this type of composition) it should be maintained at a height of between 2 to 3 inches.
Time to mow is when it is an inch or so above this recommended height.
Unfortunately, rainy spring weather does not allow us to get out and mow on a regular basis. It is not wise to cut excessively tall grass down to size in one mowing as this will cause the turf to turn yellow, then brown. Lower grass leaves that were at one time shaded now become exposed and burned by the sun. It is best to mow excessively tall grass a little at a time until it is down to the acceptable level. Rake thick clumps of grass clippings after each mowing until grass is at desired height. Otherwise it's good for the lawn to let a sprinkling of clippings lie.
CHANGE THE PATTERN -- Mowing in the same direction time after time will compact the soil and cause wear patterns, especially in the spring when the ground is soft. You can end up creating a washboard effect in which there are wavy ridges running at right angles to the direction of mowing. Take a different route each time you mow.
SLOW DOWN -- In a hurry to get the mowing job done so you can squeeze in a game of golf or go to the river? Slow down. Pushing the mower too quickly can cause a ribbed pattern in the lawn, a washboard finish, because you are moving the mower faster than the blades can make regular cuts. Taking a few extra minutes to mow will make a big difference.
Terry Kramer/For the Times-Standard
Terry Kramer is a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. To get in touch with Terry, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “For Terry Kramer” in the subject line, or write to Terry Kramer, c/o Times-Standard, P.O. Box 3580, Eureka, CA, 95502