How to Keep Your Lawn Healthy

Jun 10, 2016

As summer approaches many people are out in their lawn, mowing, watering and pulling weeds. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with  Iowa State University Extension turfgrass specialist Adam Thoms about lawn care. 

When it comes to mowing, Thomas recommends keeping your grass around three and three and a half inches tall, and not removing more than a third of the leaf tissue. This means mowing the lawn regularly. 

"Base your mowing on removing no more than one third of the leaf tissue, says Thomas. "This time of year, at the higher temps, you want to raise the mowing height between three and three and a half inches is a good idea for your mowing height."

Cutting the grass short may seem like a good idea, but it will result in dryer grass. Most Iowa grasses can survive four to six weeks with little to no water; they will just turn off color. In order to stay green, healthy grass should receive about an inch to an inch and a quarter of water a week. 

"The best time to irrigate is in the morning between 5 and 9 a.m. The winds tend to be lower then so more of the water is actually hitting the turf, rather than blowing off into the road. The temperatures are also lower so you have less evaporation and it's actually able to soak in," says Thomas. "It's better for the turf health. The leaf tissue as the sun comes up will dry out and there will be less chance of disease."

Fertilizers are necessary for lots of Iowa grasses, but the summer is not a great time to fertilize. It is best to fertilize in the fall and in the spring. It is also important to be careful with the fertilizers and follow the directions that are provided.

"There's slow release fertilizers and then there's quick release. One of the things I see a lot of times is people use a quick release fertilizer which has the tendency to burn the yard especially if you don't know the amount of fertility that you're applying. If you apply too much fertility with the quick release you're going to burn your yard," says Thomas. "The other thing I see periodically is people have drop spreaders for their fertilizers, and when they go back and forth maybe they don't go two directions so they have streaks of really green and then areas that they missed which are not quite as green." 

Later in the show Thomas is joined by horticulturist Richard Jauron to answer listener questions.