Back in the Saddle Again (The First Spring Mowing)

I knew that inevitably the day would come. The day when I would climb back in the saddle and coast across our sea of green. I was looking forward to it. I was prepared, my steed was ready, and the weather was grand. Even though the sea of grass was unexpectedly choppy and the trip was rough our goal was accomplished.

The first mowing of the season.

Amazingly the push mower started on the first pull. I skimmed the edges of the house and garden beds with the push mower first, which made mowing with the riding mower much easier. By using the push mower in advance of the riding mower I can create a buffer zone to give me more room for mistakes. I don't want to run over anything important! It became apparent after starting that I may have waited too long for this initial mowing. The clumps of fescue were tight and tall which made the spaces in between the clumps more difficult to traverse. The mower would climb over the tall clumps fine but would inevitably drop on the other side of the mounds of grass. It made for a very bumpy ride! In the fall I over-seeded Kentucky 31 fescue which worked great but the grass still needs more time to mature to fill in the rest of the yard. In the picture above you can see the clumps of grass. (You can also see part of the load of gravel the builder of our community left behind. I need to get out there and rake more of it up.)

Leaves of Grass

I left the bagger attachment on my push mower and collected grass clippings for use in the garden. I piled them up to dry out some first. In a few days I'll use them for another purpose. I could have put them in the compost bin but I have another thought in mind! More on that later.

Pruning Your Lawn

Regular mowing is important to an organic yard. I haven't spread any type of fertilizer on the yard and I don't plan on it. I don't think it needs it and I don't want to use anything synthetic. What I do plan on is regular mowing. Mowing your lawn regularly does two important things. It introduces grass clippings to the soil which break down and improve the soil for the roots of the grass and it encourages the grass to grow thicker and more evenly. Think of what happens when you prune a plant, more shoots appear to make a thicker and fuller plant. That's what mowing your lawn does. It also allows the small leaves of grass to get good light to grow, otherwise the stronger more established grasses will block out the sun. I do plan on using a spreader on the yard to spread some sifted compost this spring. The compost and grass clippings should help build a better soil. That's what you always want to do in every garden: build a better soil!

Try Not to Water
I think it's important to understand what your grass needs to grow well. Fescue, which is mostly what we have (among a variety of weeds), is a cool season grass. It can't take the heat like Bermuda grass and centipede grasses can and goes dormant in extreme temperatures. The only watering I did for the grass in my yard was when I planted new seed in the fall. I watered deeply. Deep watering allows the grass roots to get a good start since they stretch down for the water and don't remain just under the top layer of the soil. Unless you are planting new seed then try not to water.

By cutting back on mowing you can avoid watering. In the summer when it is hot, and Tennessee can get very hot, I'll cut the mowing back to about once every 10 days and I'll keep the cut high. I would put the mower on the highest possible setting! By cutting back on the mowing and letting it stay taller you are allowing the grass to retain it's moisture and produce better roots. Many people (and especially lawn services) scalp their yards in the summer and then the homeowners have to redo the yard which is a waste of time and money. We should all understand what we have and treat it the way it wants to be treated!

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