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.

Nature’s way: 3 tips for a greener lawn

Observing how plants grow in nature provides ideas for effective lawn care. Try these tips for growing and maintaining a healthy lawn:

1. Variety: Although uniformly green lawns are a popular goal, such uniformity rarely occurs in nature. When was the last time you saw a forest consisting of one type of tree, or a meadow with only one type of wildflower? Seeding or sodding your lawn with a blend of turf grasses encourages vigor and resistance to damage caused by pests or disease targeting a specific type of turf grass. Another plus for a blended lawn is wear and tear; no type of turf grass can withstand constant wear and tear, but a blend of durable turf grasses can boost your lawn’s chances of survival.

2. Breathing deeply: Yoga instructors and physical trainers know the benefits of breathing deeply for humans; aeration is likewise good for lawns. Aerating your lawn provides air circulation near your lawn’s root system, and facilitates absorption of nutrients by roots. In lawns where winter moisture accumulates, aeration helps soil underneath your lawn dry out. When to aerate depends on your climate and soil texture. Aerate both spring and fall if you have clay soil that accumulates moisture; aerating once a year either in spring or fall is good for other soil types. If you’re reseeding or sodding your lawn, wait until the new lawn is well established before aerating.

3. Moderation in mowing: Natural landscapes don’t include fields and plains with buzz-cuts. Setting your mower on its highest setting provides a healthy cutting level for your grass. In general, plan on trimming about one third the height of your grass each time you mow. Longer grass shelters new growth from summer heat, while discouraging weeds from sprouting in your lawn. Sharpening your mower blades assists with avoiding ragged cutting that damages your grass and detracts from its appearance.

Let’s get going with the growing season! May yours be the brag-worthiest lawn in your neighborhood.