The best kept secret for lawn care is to adjust the height up to the highest setting and leave the clippings.
The lawn has been the foundation of suburban landscapes in the USA. However, many gardeners complain that a lawn wastes water, fertilizers, chemicals and time that could be spent with more enjoyable activities.
There are other options to a large lawn, or possible changes to the method of maintenance. Many changes are not easy, and one must consider economics and local regulations vs. the benefits.
Mowing, Mulching & Fertilizing
I’ve mowed St. Augustine grass three inches high with a mulching attachment on the self-propelled mower. The “Don’t Bag It Lawn Care Plan” saves considerable mowing time.
The taller grass provides more shade for the grass and soil. It should reduce the risk of disease, insects, and weeds, and lower soil temperatures. The taller grass plants have a larger and deeper root system. They are stronger and more drought tolerant.
The clippings are smaller and forced into the grass. Elements in the clippings are recycled with about one-third savings on fertilizers. I’ve applied fertilizer (18-6-12+S-Fe-etc.) late in the fall.
I’ve also applied more gypsum on the lawn soil than commercial fertilizer. The best single thing to do for the lawn is to apply gypsum on clay soil. The gypsum should make clay soil looser so more water and nutrients soak down.
Watering & Aerating
I use a screwdriver to determine when the soil needs more water. When the surface of the soil becomes dry, it forces the roots to grow deeper and unfavorable for insects and weed seeds. Apply water during the morning hours. The water soaks down deeper and needs application less often.
Aerate your lawn occasionally with a plugging machine. This lets water and fertilizer soak down into the root zone easier and develops a deeper root system.
I’m in the process of decreasing my lawn area and planting more trees, shrubs, groundcovers and flowers. But that can be expensive, and it’s not always easy.
The appearance of my lawn is respectable, and I have no disease or insect problems… yet. The major benefit is a sharp reduction of time investment, effort, and expense.