Lawn care Chicago is on everyone’s mind now that Spring is in the air. We all want a lawn that looks healthy and green, causing them to constantly add fertilizers and other chemical additives to the grass to get that look. But, what most consumers don’t realize is that the best thing you can do, in regards to lawn maintenance, is mow it correctly. Mowing increases the grass’ density, creating a tight lawn that is more resistant to weeds. With correct lawn care and mowing practices, along with the occasional fertilization and proper irrigation, your lawn can be the focal point of your yard.
Tips for Healthy Turf in Chicago
The two most important factors involved in turf maintenance in Illinois are how high to cut the grass and how often you cut it. Determining the answer to these questions is based on the grass species, cultivar and just what level of quality you’re looking for. The use of mowers also help determine the quality of your lawn, too.
There is no one height that is pre-determined as the perfect one for all yards. Instead, it is determined by the growth habit and the leaf width of the particular species of grass you have. If the grass spreads horizontally, you can typically mow it shorter than you could a vertical, up-right bunched up type of grass. If the blades are very narrow, you can mow them shorter than those grasses with wider blades. Mowing grass too often causes a physiological stress on the grasses, especially if too much of the leaf tissue is taken off. When this happen, the turf is left open to other problems such as insects, disease and sun scalding.
Mowing also has an impact on the rooting depth, which grows deeper when higher mowing heights are established. When you have a deeper grass root system, your yard will have a better tolerance to droughts, insects and poor soil conditions. It should be noted that when you mow below the suggested heights for your species of grass is the number one cause of turf death and should be avoided.
How Often You Should Mow in Chicago
Again, there is no once every two week rule to apply to all yards, here. Your mowing schedule is dependent upon the growth rate of your lawn. This is influenced by the landscaping, type of grass you’re growing, the weather that year, the season and the management level. Naturally, the slow growth rates occur during the cold seasons (and Chicago is seriously cold ) and when there is low fertility and water movement. Faster growth rates occur in the warm weather when the lawn has been fertilized and watered frequently. A good rule of thumb to follow is mowing frequently enough that no more than 1/3 of the blade height is removed each time you mow. This reduces the stress to the grass and leave as much leaf surface as possible so that photosynthesis can take place.
Disposal of Grass Clippings
Ideally, grass clippings should be left in the grass to help recycle nutrients into the soil. If the lawn is mowed on a frequent basis, the clippings cause few problems because they are quickly decomposed by microbial action. This being said, if you accumulate too many clippings, they settle on top of the dirt but below the leaf blades and can cause poor water infiltration, insect problems and poor grass quality. When grass is cut infrequently, clumping occurs. This is unsightly and should be raked to distribute them more evenly.
Kinds of Mowers and How They Affect Your Turf
The two types of mowers are reel and rotary. Most of these mowers can be purchased as push or self-propelled models, each having either front, side or rear-clipping discharge. When choosing a mower, a lot depends on your personal preference, but issues to remember include your lawn dimensions, the type of grass you have and the level of maintenance required. Rotary mowers are popular because they’re not very expensive, they move around easily and offer easy maintenance. The problem with them is that most cannot mow at levels below 1″, so they are best for higher grasses. The blade will typically need to be sharpened and balanced on a regular basis to achieve a quality cut.
General Mowing Tips
- Before mowing, make the effort to pick up all the rocks, sticks and trash that may have accumulated since the last mowing to keep from damaging the lawn mower or hurting someone with flying debris.
- Allow time for the grass to dry after a rain before mowing with a rotary mower. The clippings will clog up the machine and leave more work for you to clean up afterwards. Instead, mow only when the grass is dry.
- Keeping the blade on the mower sharp will keep an even appearance to your lawn. Un-sharpened blades create a ragged look to the grass.
- Mow in a different direction each time you cut grass. This keeps wear patterns from developing, keeps the grass from lying over in the same direction and reduces scalping.
- Instead of removing the clippings, leave them there to be absorbed back into the ground. You can also distribute the clippings by re-mowing or lightly raking them. Still others use a leaf blower to spread out the clippings.
- Give your lawn mower a complete check each time you use it. Wash off the blades after every use to keep rusting and weed seed movement at bay. Additionally, follow the instructions regarding servicing and adjustments.
- To achieve the right cutting height, set the mower on a driveway or sidewalk and use a ruler to measure the distance between the blade and the cement.
- Avoid ever filling a hot mower with gasoline, instead, give it time to cool off before adding more gas. And don’t re-fill over your turf in case you spill some fuel.
- To avoid injuries, wear heavy, leather shoes to mow the lawn. Never mow in sandals.
Following these tips should help you have one of the nicestest yards in your Chicago neighborhood and keep you safe at the same time.Return to the Chicago Lawn Care Home