The leaves are falling, the cider is flowing, and we are still wondering what happened tosummer. Since the kids have to take exams to measure how they are doing in math, I’ve put together a final exam for yardeners who take care of a lawn. It might be a good way to see how you did this year, and what you might change for next year.
Mowing grass (1 point): Did you mow your grass no shorter than 2 inches? Are you leaving the lawn at 2 inches over the winter? Short grass stresses the lawn badly.
Leave the clippings (1): Did you leave the clippings on the lawn as it was mowed? That equals one application of fertilizer.
Depth of roots (1): Take a trowel and dig out a 6-inch plug of your turf. If the roots are more than 4 inches deep, add a point. If your roots are at 2 to 3 inches, your grass is growing in stress 24/7. Mulching the lawn is the only way to fix this problem
Fertilizer (1): If you fertilized your lawn, did you use a slow-elease granulated nitrogen fertilizer whether it was organic or synthetic? You can fertilize into November.
Watering (1): Did you wait to water your lawn until you had determined that it, in fact, needed watering? And if you did water, did you water deeply and infrequently rather than a little bit every day? With the wet, cool season, you probably should not have had to water more than five or six times all year.
Over-seeding (1): Have you over-seeded your lawn in the past three years? If you have never over-seeded, think about doing it next spring and again next fall, then go on a three- to five-year over-seeding cycle. Turf will thin out with age.
Mulching the lawn (1): Have you left a half-inch layer of finely chopped leaves on your lawn this fall? An eighth-inch of Canadian sphagnum peat moss does the same job. If you don’t feed the soil food web, you are growing grass in dead soil.
Drain gas (1): Have you drained the gas tank on your mower or ran it until it was out of gas? If you have gas stored in a 2- to 5-gallon container, have you added gas saver so the gas is fresh next spring?
Sharp blade (1): Have you had the lawn mower blade sharpened in the past two years? Think about buying a new blade every few years.
Lawn roller (1): Have you stopped using a lawn roller on your lawn forever? It is the most destructive tool for lawn soil invented by man.
I’m not going to tell you my score, but it is not a 10. Scanning these 10 issues can help you plan your strategy for next year.