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Healthy Lawn Tips

Maintaining a healthy lawn never goes out of season. RepairClinic.com offers the following tips:

Make sure your lawn mower engine is ready for action

While sharpening a cutting blade or replacing a frayed starter rope may be the first things you think about when pulling your lawn mower out of storage, proper lawn mower maintenance begins with the engine. The engine's air filter and oil should be replaced annually at the beginning of the mowing season, and we recommend replacing the spark plug once a year as well. For greater convenience, our website has collected these items in tune-up kits that match your specific mower model and engine type. Just enter the full model number of the lawn mower engine in our website's search bar to find the appropriate kit.

Use the correct mower cutting blade and keep it sharp

Keeping the mower cutting blade sharp is important; otherwise, you'll be tearing the grass instead of cutting it cleanly. But you also want to make sure you're using the correct cutting blade. If you intend to bag the grass clippings, then you should be using a high-lift blade. A low-lift blade is better if the terrain around your home is dry and sandy or if you don't intend to bag the clippings. If the blade is bent or damaged by hitting a rock or exposed tree roots, then you should replace the blade with a new one. A bent blade can put a strain on the spindle and bearings, and gouge up the lawn. You can find the right replacement blade for your mower by entering the full mower model number in our website's search bar.

Cut only one-third of the grass blades

The optimum lawn height will differ depending on the type of grass you have. However, a general rule is to not cut more than one-third of each grass blade when mowing. The top third of the grass blade is considered the "leaf" and it's the part of the blade that can both decompose quickly and provide nutrients for the lawn when not bagged. Cutting more than the top-third will shock the grass roots and impede proper lawn growth. This will also make your lawn more susceptible to weeds and disease.

Vary the mowing pattern and deck height

Following the same mowing pattern every time you cut the lawn can result in unsightly ruts and, over time, cause the grass blades to grow at an angle. By simply varying the mowing pattern, the grass will be allowed to grow upright. Also, be aware that you may need to adjust the deck height during the mowing season to ensure that you're not cutting more than one-third of each grass blade as noted in "Tip 3". Most warm-climate grass types will thrive and look their best when kept at a ¾ -inch to 1-inch height. Cool-climate grass types should be kept around 3 inches in height. However, if you come back from a vacation to find an overgrown lawn, you should still abide the "one-third" rule: raise the deck to mow the top-third of the grass blades then wait a couple of days, lower the deck, and cut the top-third again to bring the lawn to the desired height.

Don't over water the lawn

While temperature, soil conditions and your particular grass type can affect how often you should water, most healthy lawns only need one inch of water per week and that includes rainfall. Try placing an empty tuna can or a measuring cup on your lawn when watering to gauge how long it takes the sprinkler to bring the water level to one inch. Deep watering is important to thoroughly saturate the ground, but this should never be a daily occurrence even in hot weather. Overwatering can deprive the grass roots of oxygen and create an opportunity for disease. On average, watering every three or four days should be enough. Keep in mind, it's best to water in the morning; lower temperatures will slow evaporation and the lawn will have time to dry out before evening. Leaving a lawn wet after nightfall can promote the growth of fungus and mold.

Time the use of fertilizers appropriately

Again, your particular grass type, soil conditions and climate will determine the type of fertilizer you should use and when to apply it. But there are some general guidelines you can follow:

To ensure good root development, you should fertilize in early spring as soon as the soil reaches a temperature of 55° Fahrenheit or around the time of the first mowing. Cooler-season grasses usually require less fertilizer in the spring than warmer-season grasses. You can apply another round of fertilizer in late spring to strengthen the lawn, but avoid fertilizing in the summer months if temperatures reach 80° to 90° Fahrenheit as the combination of fertilizers and higher temperatures can weaken the grass. You'll want to fertilize cooler-season grasses more heavily in the fall and use a fertilizer that has a "winterizer" component to protect the lawn over the winter months. While there are numerous fertilizer options on the market, including both slow and quick release granules, the general rule is that you should apply no more than the equivalent of one pound of nitrogen (the main ingredient in commercial fertilizer) per 1,000 square feet of lawn during each application. Also, be sure to spread the granules evenly; clumps of fertilizer can damage the grass leaving ugly brown spots.

Choose the right weed killer for the job

While maintaining a thick, healthy lawn with proper mowing and fertilizer application will help prevent weeds from taking root, some form of weed control is inevitable.If your lawn is marred with crabgrass, you should use a pre-emergent weed killer toeliminate germinating plants as they sprout, preferably in the early spring before the ground temperature reaches 60° Fahrenheit. Broadleaf weeds such as dandelions should be dug out before they have a chance to seed, but you can also apply an herbicide formulated to take out broadleaf weeds, preferably on the leaves of the plant. The best time to apply an herbicide to eliminate dandelions is early fall. Be aware that some chemicals require a moist lawn to work properly while other chemicals will lose their potency when combined with water; read the product's instructions carefully to determine when to water or cut the lawn after application. Also, since herbicides can be harmful to people and pets (and your lawn, in some cases), you should always follow the safety warnings.

Let RepairClinic.com help you keep your lawn and garden looking great

In addition to stocking replacement parts and "tune-up kits" for lawn mowers, RepairClinic.com also has replacement parts and accessories for edgers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws and more. If you need additional trimmer line or a new edger blade, just enter your lawn equipment's full model number in our website's search bar for a complete list of product-compatible parts and accessories. RepairClinic.com has hundreds of videos devoted to helping you repair and maintain your lawn equipment yourself and a 365-day return policy for all parts. With well-maintained equipment and a little know-how, your yard should be looking great for years to come.

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