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home>>family>>gardening 2>>lawn care tips

Lawn Care Tips from the Mow Master


(ARA) - Is your green thumb brown? Don't know your thatch from your fungus? Put a little life in your lawn this spring with advice from John Deere's "Mow Master" Bill Klutho.

Q: It's finally getting warmer, so I can't wait to pull my lawn mower out of the garage! What should I do to make sure my mower is warmed up for the season? -- Spring Fevered

A: Before the warm weather arrives, read your operator's manual to learn your mower's recommended routine maintenance schedule. Most maintenance needs can be handled annually, so now is the perfect time to tune up your mower.

Common maintenance tasks include sharpening your mower blade; replacing the spark plug; clearing fans and intake screens; changing the oil, oil filters and fuel filters; checking safety shields and switches; and replacing the gasoline since old gas can clog the carburetor.

A disregarded or damaged mower can cause harm to your lawn, your equipment and yourself. If you can't or just don't want to perform your own maintenance, take your mower in to your local dealer for a tune up or try John Deere Ready to Mow a mobile service that actually comes to your home to perform mower maintenance.

Q: Dear Mow Master I'm a newlywed, and we just bought our first house. Any tips to make my lawn the envy of the neighborhood? -- Married Mower

A: Congratulations! Welcome to the world of marriage, home ownership and lawn care.

To keep your lawn growing as strong as your love, stick to the basics:

* Fertilize your lawn when it starts growing in the spring and in the fall, one month before the lawn goes dormant.

* Follow the John Deere one-third cutting rule, mowing only the top third of the grass each time you mow.

* Most lawns need about an inch of water per week. If you're unsure of how long to water, put a mark one inch from the bottom of several plastic containers and spread them around the watering zone. Clock the time it takes to reach the one-inch mark and water for that length of time in the future.

Make a life-long commitment to safety too your spouse (and future kids) will appreciate it.

Q: Help me, Mow Master! My lawn is all soft and spongy. Is something wrong? Concerned Cutter

A: Sounds like you've got thatch. Thatch is mostly dead roots caused by excessive watering or fertilizing. Up to a half inch of thatch can be beneficial, as it helps prevent ground compaction and holds moisture in the soil. However, a thick layer of thatch is detrimental. It acts like a sheet of plastic to hold back water, nutrients and air all the things roots need to stay healthy. Thatch can also harbor insects and disease. If you already have thatch problems, use a dethatcher or aerate your lawn. To avoid thatch buildup, follow the John Deere one-third rule and mow on the high side. Water your lawn infrequently, but deeply about an inch a week.

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