River-Friendly Spring Lawn Care Guide, Part 2

Three images side-by-side. From left: anglers participating in the Walleye Run. A walleye fish caught on a line. A tangle of fishing line removed from a Partners for Clean Streams recycling bin.Last month, we began our river-friendly spring lawn care guide with tips about seed planting and fertilizer use. With April showers on our minds, we’re turning now to tips for watering and mowing. Learn how to save money while saving water.

Smart Watering

Don’t water on a set schedule. Water only when the grass or plants show signs of needing it. Over-watering can damage plants, stimulate fungus, and leach nutrients out of the soil. If you do choose to water, 1 inch per week is usually enough. To test whether or not your lawn needs watering, step on the grass. If it springs back up, you don’t need to water. If it stays flat, it is time to water again – a deep watering in the morning!

In the hot, dry summer, grass grows slowly and the blades turn brown. But the plants don’t die. If you can bear this stage, your grass will green up soon after it rains.

Try not watering a test patch of grass for a year and see how you like it. If your test patch is successful, try a larger section next year. Your grass may turn brown (remember the roots are still healthy), but you will not have to spend every weekend setting up the sprinkler and moving it around the yard, or if you have a built-in sprinkler system, having a needlessly high water bill.

Put rainwater to work for you by directing downspouts into garden areas or installing a rain barrel to collect water for use during dry weather. You can also border your lawn with deep-rooted native flowers and shrubs to prevent water runoff, which means less work for you! You can purchase a rain barrel from the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District store. Local organizations also periodically host rain barrel making workshops like Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District, the Toledo Rain Garden Initiative, or The 577 Foundation through the City of Perrysburg stormwater management program.

Mow High 

Mowing and watering go hand-in-hand. Lawns that are mowed too short develop weak root systems and require frequent watering. Make your lawn care cheaper and your lawn easier to maintain by mowing high – three inches is the rule! This promotes healthier roots and a healthier lawn. Use a mowing marker or a ruler to help you keep your grass at least three inches high.

Tall grass can capture more sun, so it is better able to make its own food and does not need as much fertilizer, saving you money. Tying back to last edition’s focus on fertilizer, removing grass clippings starves the soil of naturally beneficial nutrients and organic matter. By leaving grass clippings in place, you can reduce or even eliminate your need for lawn fertilizer.

Taller grass tolerates hot and dry conditions better. It develops deeper roots, enabling it to reach deep into the soil for water. It also shades the soil and reduces evaporation. Taller grass will often shade out unwanted weeds and prevent their seeds from germinating.