Spring is coming and your lawn is getting ready to wake up from the long winter. But when is the best time to start mowing your lawn? The best time to mow your lawn is in early spring after the risk of frost has passed. You don’t want to shock your grass’s new growth by cutting too quickly.
Once you’re sure the risk of frost has passed, before you mow, it’s important to prepare your lawn for the season. Applying a weed and feed fertilizer as part of your lawn care is a good idea before any mowing happens. Just remember to wait until after April 1, as it is illegal in Nassau and Suffolk counties to apply fertilizer before then.
Once it’s warmed up, you’ve fed and put down weed control, and your lawn has started growing in earnest, it’s time to get your mower ready. When the grass has grown at least two inches tall it should be safe to cut. This helps to protect the roots. Make sure your blade is sharpened and adjusted so that you’re never cutting more than a third of its length in any single cutting. This will help the lawn grow lush and strong. Depending on your type of grass, as a rule of thumb, you should let the lawn reach 2–3” in length.
To help return nutrients to your lawn it’s another good idea to leave some of the clippings where they fall so that they can decompose and release nitrogen.
Finally, don’t water your “new” lawn right away. Wait until the heat arrives to wilt the lawn a bit. This will tell the roots to grow deeper which will help them to survive the heat later in the summer.
Ornamental grasses are one of the first plants to greet us come spring. You’ll see little green shoots coming up from the cut-off crowns and know that spring is finally really here. Decorative grasses can be warm season, cool season, or evergreen grasses. Warm season and cool season grasses are sometimes called “deciduous grasses”, meaning that the foliage of these types of grasses turn brown in the fall but tend to remain standing. These grasses when left as they are can provide winter interest to a landscape, particularly when they are in the background.
While you can leave these grasses without care all year, they will tend to look more attractive if you cut back ornamental grasses in the forefront either in late fall or early spring.
Cutting these grasses may seem like a difficult task, especially the kind with razor-edged leaves, but it doesn’t have to be. To cut back the grass, first, take twine or string and wrap it around the grass creating a sheaf. This will be easier to manage and cut through. Then, take your hedge shears—or for an easier job, a hedge trimmer or power hedger—and cut the grass about 4–6 inches above the crown of the plant. You want to protect the crown because it helps to insulate the roots through the winter, so don’t cut the grass at ground level.
Once you’ve cut your grass plants down you’ll want to take the dead material and place it on the compost pile. Dead grass is a great way to get nitrogen into the soil, so it’ll help your compost pile do its job. If you happen to have a shredder you can also run the grass through it and make a great mulch for your other plants!
Remember, ornamental grasses grow not only tall but wide as well. Eventually, in addition to cutting them down, you may also need to split them so they stay manageable in your landscape layout. We’ll cover how to split grasses in a future post! In the meantime, find that string and get going on your trimming!