Going into a good spring, several questions come to mind. Is your lawn smooth enough to mow with a reel mower? Can you mow your lawn at the optimal mowing height for the grass variety without scalping or damaging your yard? When you scalp your yard, you will put your turf at a competitive disadvantage and will lead to a decline in lawn quality. You need to evaluate your yard for high spots, low spots, and ruts to decrease scalping. Add soil to level out the lawn surface. Replace sod and keep the soil area moist for several days to help redevelop a healthy root system.
Selecting the right mowing height for your lawn
All grass varieties should be mowed at or near their optimal mowing height. This will help keep your lawn healthy and dense. The higher the density means more surface shading which restricts the germination of many annual grassy and broadleaf weeds. Best method for weed control.
Selecting the right mower is also important when mowing your yard. Listed are some common grasses and optimum mowing heights.
How often should I mow?
The safest rule of thumb is never removing more then 1/3 of the leaf blade at any one time. If mowed too infrequently, too many grass clippings will be left behind. The growing point will begin to rise and will eventually kill your lawn. Frequent mowing of lawn will ensure that the growing point will stay near the soil surface and will stay healthy and dense.
Maintaining a sharp blade is very important in keeping a healthy lawn. Dull blades thrash and beat the tops of the grass blades off. This leaves a ragged top on your lawn making it less resistant to turf diseases and insects.
Preventing wildlife damage
The most important step in managing human/wildlife interactions is to prevent animals from becoming a nuisance in the first place. Simple steps around the house can greatly reduce the chance of problems.
Seal all openings greater than ¼” to prevent mice, rats, squirrels, and bats from gaining entry to buildings.
Trim all branches at least 6’ away from buildings to prevent squirrels from jumping onto the roof.
Never exclude momma: if you discover a family of raccoons, skunks, etc. living under your porch or in your attic, make sure you get all of them out, not just the adult. If babies are trapped inside when you seal a hole, momma will move mountains (read: tear a new hole) to try to get them. If she doesn’t succeed, the babies will die.
Place all trash in cans with tight-fitting lids and don’t leave pet food outside. Preventing access to human and pet food is one of the best things you can do to keep wildlife wild.
Lonnie Jenschke is an Erath County extension agent.