Growing Green Grass

Tips and hints for having a lush, green, healthy lawn.

Choose the right grass for your conditions and climate. See What's the best lawn grass for you?

Mow late in the day. Late afternoon (after 3pm) and early evening are the best times to mow. Never mow a wet lawn.

Cut less when you mow. As a general rule, use your mower's highest setting unless planning to overseed. Taller grass grows deeper roots and holds more moisture. It also looks thicker and more lush. Never cut more than a third of the grass height at any time. If grass has gotten especially long, cut twice…waiting a few days in between clippings. For most cool season grasses, such as fescues and ryegrass, the height should be between 1 1/2" (min) to 2 1/2" (max).

Make sure your blades are kept sharp. You want them to cut the grass, not tear it. Rotary blades should be sharpened every 4 to 6 weeks, if mowing regularly.

Forget catching the grass clippings. Recycle, and let the grass cuttings help to feed your lawn and soil. Make sure it's just a light layer as you don't want to smother your lawn.

Fertilize only once or twice a year with a slow-release organic fertilizer.* Wonderful non-toxic, natural alternatives to commercially available fertilizers exist. For example, peat moss can be used. For a boost, mix in some high nitrogen bat dung or seabird guano. Can also use compost, earthworm castings, kelp, soil inoculants/microorganisms, and enzymes. Apply lightly.

Water only when necessary. Generally, giving an infrequent deep soaking to most grasses in most areas is enough. This may vary by grass type and climate.

*Too much fertilizing and/or using the wrong fertilizer can cause excess thatch accumulation. Thatch is the springy mat of roots and stems above the soil. Thatch should be kept to 1/2" thick or less.


A tonic to use once a month to keep your lawn looking its best as provided in the book Jerry Baker's Green Grass Magic : Tips, Tricks, and Tonics for Growing the Toe-Ticklinest Turf in Town! (Jerry Baker's Good Gardening series) is as follows:

Terrific Turf Tonic

1 cup baby shampoo
1 cup ammonia
1 cup weak tea water

Combine ingredients in 20 gallon hose-end sprayer and fill up the rest of the way with warm water. Apply generously — to the point of run-off.

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