Maintaining and Sustaining
Grass clippings are best left on your lawn where they'll provide 20-30% of needed nitrogen. If clippings are wet and clumpy, knock them apart so grass underneath isn't smothered. Mulching lawn mowers are a great tool for this. Stay away from lakes or streams while mowing because if clippings fall in, their high nitrogen content will pollute the water. Be sure to sweep up any grass clippings that blow onto paved areas to keep them from washing into storm drains.
If you water your lawn, focus on getting the water to the roots where it is most needed. Wetting the entire root zone maintains healthy, deep roots, which promotes dense turf and improves drought resistance. Don't water more than 1/2" per hour to reduce the chance of runoff and don't water to the point that puddles form. Cans placed in sprinkler paths can be used to measure how much water is sprayed in a given time. Adjust your watering systems so they're watering turf, not pavement.
Water can also be lost through evaporation before it gets to the roots. That's why it's best to water before ten a.m., when the sun is still low in the sky. You can conserve even more water by using soaker hoses for landscape plants instead of sprinklers. These inexpensive alternatives greatly reduce runoff and evaporation problems by slowly watering directly on the ground, not through the air.
But soaker hoses don't effectively distribute water for lawns. For lawn sprinkler systems, it's best to use rotors or impact heads, not "spray heads," to reduce evaporation.
If you decide a pest has become a threat to your lawn's survival, try hand-pulling weeds before spraying pesticides. If using chemicals is necessary, choose pest-specific pesticides rather than broad spectrum ones and apply only to problem areas rather than to your entire lawn. Spreading a product that contains both herbicides and fertilizers-popularly known as "weed and feed"-over an entire lawn area is wasteful and not cost effective. It also increases the risk for contaminated water runoff because the chemicals are applied in excess, rather than directly to weeds.
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