Are you old enough to remember the old Dunkin Donuts “time to make the donuts” commercials? The commercials showed a man snoozing soundly in his darkened bedroom, when suddenly he was wakened at an unearthly early hour by a blaring alarm clock.
The man wearily rose from his bed and shuffled away, mumbling “Time to make the donuts.” The man was in a donut-making rut, going through a rote routine every day of rising early and shuffling away to make the donuts.
Are you in the same kind of rut when it comes to caring for your lawn? When your grass needs cutting, do you think to yourself “time to mow the lawn”? And then wearily shuffle into a rote routine of mowing the grass, doing the same things the same way, every time? Are you stuck in the same kind of ruts when it comes to other routine lawn-care chores?
If so, it might be wise to examine your rote lawn care routines, to see if you’ve fallen into any not-the-best-way-to-do-it ruts. Here are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make when caring for their lawns:
- Cutting Too Short. It’s an awfully strong temptation, particularly for people who don’t care much for the chore of mowing the lawn. After all, the closer you cut the grass, the less frequently you’ll have to cut the grass. But if you care about how your lawn looks, you’d best avoid that temptation. Cutting too close could cause your lawn to turn brown, or to wilt.
A good rule of thumb is to allow your grass to grow to a height of 3-4 inches before cutting. And when you do mow, cut off no more than roughly a third of the total height.
- Improper Watering. Too much water is nearly as harmful to your lawn as too little water. On average, most lawns need about 2 inches per week during the warm-weather growing season.
The most accurate AND easiest way to assure that your lawn is watered properly is by using an automated sprinkler system.
- Over-Fertilizing. Many homeowners apply far more fertilizer than their lawns really need. Lots of problems can result, ranging from burned, browned grass to grass that grows at a wildly excessive rate, requiring far more frequent mowing. And there’s also an environmental impact to applying too much fertilizer.
Verify that you’re applying the correct amount of fertilizer with each application by checking the labeling of the fertilizer you’re using. And for most lawns and climates, 2 or 3 applications per year should be plenty.
- Dull Mower Blades. When was the last time you had your lawn mower blades sharpened? If you’re like many homeowners, you might not even be able to remember. And that’s not good.
Sharp mower blades make nice, clean cuts, minimizing the stress that the plants undergo with each mowing. But dull mower blades don’t make clean, surgical cuts; instead, they literally rip each blade of grass apart, leaving ragged, jagged edges. And that’s very stressful to the plants, making them far more susceptible to diseases.
If you’re not sure whether your mower blades need sharpening, you can easily find out. Just kneel down in your lawn after the next mowing, and take a close-up look across the lawn from the level of the blade tops. You’ll be able to see whether the ends of the grass blades are crisply cut or raggedly shredded.
A Job Worth Doing…
As the old saying goes, a job worth doing is worth doing right. That applies at least as much to lawn care as to donut making. After all, once a donut is eaten, it’s gone and forgotten. But any mistakes you make in caring for your lawn will be on display for the entire neighborhood to see.
And dollars-to-donuts says that’s a situation you’d just as soon avoid!