All pesticides are toxic to some degree. This means they can pose some risk to you, to your children, pets, and to any wildlife that venture onto your lawn, especially if these chemicals are overused or carelessly applied. Pesticides can also kill earthworms and other beneficial organisms, disrupting the ecological balance of your lawn.
The roots of plants need a constant supply of oxygen at all times. Overmulching kills the roots of shallow-rooted plants by suffocation. Symptoms of too much mulch include chlorotic foliage (symptoms often resemble iron deficiency), abnormally small leaves, poor growth and dieback of older branches. Disease organisms that are active under conditions of low oxygen and excessive moisture can become active and attack the roots. Sometimes the old root system will be rotted as the plant tries to send out new roots into the mulch layer. Excessive amounts of mulch applied around tree trunks can lead to cankers on susceptible species
Choose a grass type that thrives in your climate. The right type of grass, one that suits your needs and likes the local weather, will always give better results. Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients they need, their resistance to pests, their tolerance for shade, and the degree of wear they can withstand.
Anything that was once alive will naturally decompose. However, some organic wastes should not be composted at home. DO compost these items: grass clippings, leaves, plant stalks, hedge trimmings, old potting soil, twigs, annual weeds without seed heads, vegetable scraps, coffee filters, and tea bags. Do NOT compost these items: diseased plants, weeds with seed heads, invasive weeds such a quack grass and moring glory, pet feces, dead animals, bread and grains, meat or fish parts, dairy products, grease, cooking oil, or oily foods.
Ever wonder how golf courses and athletic fields achieve the striped cuts? By simply cutting in a back and forth pattern the grass will tend to lay in the direction of the sun. By constantly repeating this you can "train" the grass to achieve this effect. Cool season grasses stripe better than warm season grasses.
Using more fertilizer or pesticide than the label calls for wastes the product and doesn't help the lawn. The extra fertilizer or pesticide will probably wash away into a storm drain and out to a nearby wetland, stream, or pond where it can harm aquatic plants and animals.
The general rule of thumb is to fertilize cool season turf grasses, e.g., bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass in the fall months and warm season grasses, e.g., bermuda, zoysia and St Augustine in the summer months. Combination products of fertilizer with pesticides can provide excellent results. However, care must be taken to use the right product for the intended situation and to follow the directions on the label. With fertilizer, more is never better.
A general rule of thumb is to never mow more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off at any one mowing. Secondly, it is better to mow twice a week (during the active growing period) and always try to mow during the coolest part of the day. Lastly, the new mulching deck mowers are terrific as they return the grass clippings and nutrients back to the soil. By doing this you can help the land fills by reducing lawn waste and you can even save an extra fertilizer applications.
A sharp mower blade is a key to a perfect cutting job. However, whenever you sharpen a blade yourself, always check it for balance. An out-of-balance blade can cause excess mower vibration and wear. One way to check is to tie a metal washer onto a string, thread the string through the center hole of the blade, then hold the blade up with the washer supporting it. The washer should be on center and turned perpendicular to the blade. The blade should stay level. If it doesn't, grind it for balance on the back side of the blade. Always disconnect the lawnmower's sparkplug wire before removing or replacing any blade.
If you have a heavily shaded area that you just simply can't grow grass, ground covers look and work great. However, if you simply must have grass, than there are a couple of grass species that will do moderately well in shaded environments. In the Northern climates Creeping Red Fescue is the best shade tolerant turf and in the Southern climate St. Augustine performs the best. For CRF to survive it is important to quickly remove tree leaves in the fall. This is the only time of the year that the plant will see the full sun and you will want to maximize this. Keep the fertility low, the soil acidic and the turf as dry as possible. Also, neither of these turf species will handle traffic very well.