Don't Bag It Lawn Care Plan

Most people like a beautiful, green lawn and often use more fertilizer and water than necessary.  More mowing, extra backbreaking work in bagging grass clippings and higher water bills often result.

Between March and September, the volume of residential solid waste increases 20 to 50 percent because of grass clippings.  During the spring and summer months, grass clippings strain the garbage collection system and use valuable landfill space.

Now, consider not bagging your grass.  With the "Don't Bag It Lawn Care Plan" you won't have to stoop every 10 minutes to empty your mower bag or spend extra time raking up the clippings.  By leaving the clippings on the lawn and allowing them to work their way back into the soil, you will help produce a beautiful, green lawn.  Your lawn will RECYCLE its clippings and you will save time, energy and money!

Fertilizing Plan

The rate of fertilizer application, the frequency of application, the ratio of nutrients in the fertilizer and the source of the nitrogen all have a great deal to do with how fast the lawn grows.

The following fertilizing plan is designed to allow the lawn to grow at a reasonable rate and still have good color.

Fertilizer               Fertilizer               Application Rate - pounds per 
ratio                    analysis                1,000 sq. ft.
3-1-2                   12-4-8                                    8
                           15-5-10                                  7
                           21-7-14                                  5
or ....................................................................................................
4-1-2                    16-4-8                                   6
                           20-5-10                                  5

For slow, even growth, use a fertilizer containing either sulfur-coated urea or urea-formaldehyde as a nitrogen source rather than soluble forms.  The soluble forms such as urea or ammonium sulfate tend to produce very fast growth for short periods of time.

Fertilizer Application Dates

Common Bermuda - April 1, June 1, July 15 and September 1
"Tif" Bermuda - April 1, May 1, June 1, July 1, August 1 and September 1
Buffalo - May 1 and September 1
St. Augustine - April 1, June 1 and September 1
Tall Fescue - March 1, September 15 and November 15
Zoysia - May 1, June 1 and September 1      
Watering Plan

Turf grasses vary in their need for water:
     1. Tall Fescue (requires the most water)
     2. St. Augustine
     3. "Tif" Bermuda
     4. Zoysia
     5. Common Bermuda
     6. Buffalo (requires the least water)

During the driest period of summer, our lawns usually require about 1 inch of water every 5 to 6 days.  Most hose sprinklers put out 1/4 to 1/3 inch of water per hour, so they would need to run approximately 4 hours in one spot.  If water runs off the lawn before 1 inch is applied, turn the sprinkler off, let water soak in for about 1 hour and then continue watering.

The best time to water is early in the morning, so less water is lost by evaporation. The worst time to water is in the evening because the lawn stays wet all night.  This encourages disease development.  Lawns watered too frequently tend to develop shallow root systems which may make them more susceptible to grub damage.

Mowing Plan

The "rule of thumb" for mowing home lawns is not to remove more than one-third of the leaf surface at any one time.  If you use the following mowing schedule, you no longer will need to bag your clippings.
Type of grass                            Mower Setting              Mow when or before this 
                                                    (inches)                  height (inches)
Common Bermuda                           1 1/2                              2 1/4
"Tif" Bermuda                                  1                                   1 1/2
Buffalo                                            2                                   3
St. Augustine                                  2                                   3
Tall Fescue                                      2 1/2                              3 3/4
Zoysia                                            2                                   3                                ____________________________________________________________________________

Grass clippings left on your lawn will not contribute to thatch, but will return valuable nutrients to the soil.  They usually contain about 4.0 percent nitrogen, 0.5 percent phosphorous and about 2 percent potassium, as well as all the necessary minor elements that plants need.

Grass clipping make an excellent compost for gardens.  Compost use is the best way to improve garden soil because it returns nutrients to the soil and improves the soil's physical characteristics.