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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.

It’s Not Too Late for Fall Lawn Fertilizing

Many years ago it was believed that fertilizing a lawn in the fall could cause more problems that it solved, but things have changed. In my experience, fertilizing your lawn in the later fall or early winter is the best way to ensure a thicker, greener, healthier turf the next year.

Once cold weather strikes, your lawn will stop sending nutrients into the grass blades. By fertilizing in the fall, the nutrients applied go straight to the roots allowing a stronger and more complex root structure. This will keep your grass healthy through the winter.

Fall Lawn Fertilizing Is Simple

First, select a high quality nitrogen fertilizer. You don’t need a special fertilizer for the fall. In fact, if you fertilize regularly, your standard fertilizer will do the trick. Apply liberally to your lawn in late October or early November. Remember that the best fertilizers will contain a time release nitrogen formulation which ensures that your lawn will get the nitrogen it needs over time, rather than in one quick spurt. Time release formulas generally won’t burn your lawn and can produce thick, green grass easily.

After fertilizing, make sure that you give your lawn a heavy watering to help the fertilizer make it into the roots. In most cases, you’ll get some rain that will do the trick!

Many folks also choose to apply seed to their lawns in the early winter. If you are seeding this late in the year, we call that a “dormant seeding,” and I highly recommend you aerate the lawn prior. The idea is to get down your fertilizer, aerate and then seed.

Taking the time to prepare your lawn for winter now will result in a greener more vibrant lawn next spring. If you want your lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood next year, take a little time now to fertilize your lawn before winter strikes.