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Getting Your Lawn in Shape

COLUMBUS, Ohio—While you’re spending so much time (stuck) at home these days, you can’t help but notice the home improvement projects you haven’t gotten to or didn’t quite finish.

And then there’s the lawn. How can you not notice your lawn and how green or dandelion-crammed it is compared to say, the neighbor’s lawn – not that you’re into comparing.

You’re a little more Johnny-on-the-spot with mowing because, well, there’s fewer other diversions besides the tiling you need to do in the downstairs bathroom and painting the kitchen cabinets to make them look a bit less 1960s. At least working on the lawn takes you outside.

If the lawn is on your home improvement list or just something to do to avoid cabin fever, here are a few tips from experts in turf science. Todd Hicks and Joe Rimelspach make a living advising people across the state how to take care of their lawns and how to identify diseases that crop up. They are both turf grass pathology experts with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Here’s what they advise:

  1. Don’t mow if the lawn is wet. A rule of thumb is if you run your hand across the lawn and your hand gets dripping wet, it’s not a good idea to mow. If you do, it can cause damage to the turf from poor mowing and the cut grass can stick together in clumps and stay on top of the growing grass, cutting off sunlight to the grass underneath it.
  2. Mow the lawn to 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches tall. Any shorter than that actually increases the likelihood that weeds will move in because the shorter the leaf blades, the more sunlight can reach the soil to germinate weeds.
  3. If you decide to treat the lawn for weeds, make sure there’s a barrier between the lawn and any nearby annuals that you plant. Some weed control products could spread by wind or drift of the spray and harm nearby plants.
  4. If you plant grass seed or lay sod, you can’t just leave it and think, “I’m done.” It must be watered regularly.
  5. Change your mowing pattern on a regular basis. Get out of the rut of mowing in the same direction or you’re going to create ruts in your lawn. Your grass learns which direction it’s being cut in and begins to lean in the direction that you mow, unless you vary the pattern

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