Monday, April 9, 2018

To Mow Low Or Bag

Horticulture Hotline 04/09/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Today’s article is not as much of a “to do list” as a have you done it list.

I have been asked some form of this question a lot recently. “Should I mow down lower than I usually mow (scalp) and or bag my clippings on the first cut of the year?”

Congratulations, you must be using a preemerge product for winter weeds or you would be mowing weeds! A lot of people will mow lower and collect the clippings to get rid of the "brown" in the grass. Not needed for good grass, just appearance. By mowing lower you remove the brown grass (your green grass from last fall), and your lawn will appear greener – basically you are removing the brown leaves from your grass like raking up leaves from your trees. If you did nothing different, the new leaf blades would come through and the brown leaves would decompose.

If you have a whole lot of brown grass that does not look like it is going to decompose in a reasonable amount of time, using a bagging mower may be a good option for the first cut. Get back to your mulching mower as soon as possible, so your grass benefits from the returned organic matter and nutrients.

If you have been waiting for the weather to warm up, here is a brief checklist of things that should have been completed around the yard:
  • Test soil. All the rain leached out very valuable nutrients out of the soil. There are many properties I have taken soil test on every year for over 20 years. In every case, there are certain nutrients that all the rain has leached out of the soil. From the soil test taken December of 2016 to the soil test taken December of 2017 there are many obvious decreases in nutrients.  I was looking at soil tests a few years ago and I had 2 tests for palm trees that 2 different people had put out way, way, way too much Magnesium. Just because people say that palms like Epsom Salt which is Magnesium sulfate, take a soil test first. You might be wasting your money. Over fertilizing could be true throughout your landscape. Soil test provide valuable information for accurate fertilizing!
  • Have you applied SeaHume G to lawn and beds for a healthy start?
  • Have you applied a preemergent to lawn and beds (this late use Dimension if it is your first application)? Remember it is never too late to start a preemerge program. It is never too late to preemerge, with our mild climate weeds germinate almost every day of the year.
  • Have you drench Dominion around plants with a history of insect problems?
  • Have you applied a preventive fungicide to turf if you have a history of fungus (T-Methyl, Fame)?
  • Mole Crickets overwinter as adults and do their mating flights right now. Have you killed them now before they can make babies? Be sure your lawn and beds are free of fire ants, and if you have pets, fleas and ticks should be controlled. If you live near the woods, chiggers may be an issue. (Granular Sevin will work on these pests. If you prefer organic, check with a Possum’s near you to find a product or products that will work in your situation.)
  • Have you gone through your irrigation system to be sure everything is operating correctly? In my travels through the Lowcountry, I have noticed many broken heads and heads that are spraying into the street. Although they have been calling for rain, where I live we have had very little. These low humidity days will dry out your grass and plants quickly. Plants and grass are putting out new leaves and need water!
  • The little fury terrorist of the yard is having babies now. Have you killed a mole recently or at least repelled one out of your yard?
  • Is your lawn mower ready for another season? New Blade? New Air Filter? New Spark Plug?
  • Have you measured your turf and bed areas so you know how much product you need to buy and apply to your yard? Getting the right amount of product on your lawn will determine the success of your efforts.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.