In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
August, 2008
Regional Report

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Mowing the old-fashioned way has never been easier! (Photo courtesy of Art Takeshita)

Late-Summer Lawn Care

The Henry's Garden show received a new manual reel mower from a publicist a few weeks ago, and is it ever a honey! Do you remember how torturous it was having to mow the lawn when you were a kid? The mower we received is a modern version of the old-fashioned push mower. The little SunLawn mower is not only easy to use, it is good for the environment because it uses manpower instead of electricity or gasoline. The reel is adjustable so you can set the mower at whatever length of grass you prefer, it has an ergonomic hand grip, and it's lightweight and easy to store. The housing is heavy-duty plastic so it won't ever rust.

Push mowers went out of fashion in the early 60s but are making a comeback. They are very different from your father's push mower and slice through even long grass with ease. The benefits of using a modern push mower are many: you save money on fuel, you get some exercise, you won't have a heart attack trying to get the darned thing to start, and they cost less than power mowers.

Mowing Tips for Healthy Grass
When you mow your lawn, begin with a border. Mow all the way around the perimeter of the lawn. Next, pick your pattern for the week. Never mow your lawn the same direction two weeks in a row. Instead, go north to south one week, east to west the following week, and diagonally the next week, to avoid creating tracks in the soil. If you have ever walked on a lawn that has been mowed in the same direction year after year, you will know what I'm talking about.

After mowing is the best time to apply fertilizer. First turn on the sprinklers for a few moments. This will give you the opportunity to see if everything is functioning correctly. Adjust any sprinkler that is squirting water in the wrong direction and clean clogged heads if you see any (a toothpick or a twig usually will do the job). The reason to turn on the water prior to fertilizing is so that you can see where you have already been by following the tracks of the spreader in the damp lawn. Use a dry, organic lawn fertilizer such as Dr. Earth. Use a spreader and walk in the same direction that you mowed. It's fine to overlap your wheel tracks slightly when fertilizing, just make sure your pattern is uniform so you don't get the "green stripe" effect.

The final step for fall lawn care is watering to distribute the fertilizer into the soil and down to the roots. Dry chemical fertilizer left on the surface of the lawn can burn the grass in hot weather, so make sure it is watered in.

Of course fertilizing will cause your lawn to green up and grow more quickly, so keep your mower blades sharp and ready to roll!


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