3 lawn care strategies to avoid with kids around

According to IBISWorld, an organization of analysts that researches economic, demographic and government data, lawn care is a multi-billion dollar industry. With so many choices available, it can be easy to get caught up in the vast array of products and services designed to help you improve your landscape. But you should keep in mind that an effective lawn care strategy typically values simplicity over technology. From pests to disease, here are three mistakes that you must avoid when you have kids.

1. Treating all pests instead of focusing on the ones you have. Many homeowners make the mistake of attempting the blanket approach when treating a yard for pests. However, Purdue Pesticides Programs encourages you to identify specific pests that are the root of your problem and treat your yard exclusively for them. Using “kill-all” treatments can waste money and time, as some pests require specific pesticides. Plus, it’s a smart idea to keep pesticides to a minimum whenever children are around.

2. Ignoring turf density and focusing on quick growth. Some homeowners place too much emphasis on growing a quick lawn and forget the value of dense turf. Ruth Micelli of Daytona Beach’s Flagler County Cooperative Extension maintains that thick turf is the best weed prevention possible. Not only does properly established turf prevent weeds from getting the direct sunlight weeds require, but it also reduces the area that weeds can expand into. A weed-free lawn means healthier grass for children to run on.

3. Cutting too much and too short. Nothing symbolizes spring and summer lawn care more than a good mowing. However, it is very easy to cut too often or too short for your lawn to recover. The Iowa State University Extension recommends cutting once per week at an average height of 2.5 inches. Cutting just about one-third the length of your grass blades allows for nitrogen-rich clippings to fall and encourage healthy growth. Using this strategy means less need for commercial fertilizer — and less chance children will be exposed to it.

The bottom line is that savvy lawn care strategies can give you a lawn you’ll not only be proud of but also confident is safe for the kids to play on. And the best part is that these tips and tricks mean more money in your pocket at season’s end.

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Top 6 steps to a beautiful, healthy lawn

How you treat your lawn in the spring has everything to do with how well the grass flourishes come summertime. Many people think that lawns have the capacity to jump-start themselves in the spring and maintain their health all alone. As with all growing things, your immature lawn needs nutrients, sunlight and TLC. Here are six ways to get your lawn ready for the year.

  1. Clean up. There are several spring lawn care musts, and clearing fall and winter debris from the lawn is paramount for success. Rake deep to remove dead grass, leaves, mud and debris.
  2. Break up compaction. The roots of your grass need to absorb water and nutrients directly. If the soil is compacted, rent an aerator or walk your lawn with a pitchfork.
  3. Amend your soil. A favorable soil pH is necessary for lawn health. Send a soil sample to a local university extension. Most amendments are made to correct for high soil acidity using a lime-based product.
  4. Remove weeds and crabgrass. The weeds in your lawn survived winter, so they’re hearty. Get them out now by the roots. If you decide on using pre-emergent herbicides, now’s the time to apply it. Pull out new sprouted weeds as they arrive.
  5. Overseed bald patches. Wait four weeks after using any pre-emergent herbicide to overseed. Whether it’s that bald spot under a tree or the section ripped out by heavy traffic, you should seed it anew with the same type of seed you originally sowed.
  6. Fertilizing. Hopefully you fertilized your lawn last fall. Spring is the time for light feeding to prevent weeds from getting a big start on the season. I prefer natural compost or using clippings from the mulch mower in my lawn care regimen.

There you have it: lawn care secrets to build your grass into splendid shape by summer.

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