MITCHELL – With the end of summer comes a critical period for maintaining and rejuvenating lawns.

For the best lawns, a little care goes a long way in the spring.

Most of us are pretty decent with a lawn mower and can handle our own lawns. But what about making your garden its best come spring? What is the ideal height at which you should mow your lawn? What should you do now to make your garden look as fresh and healthy as the star in your house?

Here are some quick tips from Mitchell Lawn Care Specialist Jason Hohn, who runs Jason Hohn Lawn Care.

Tip #1: For a well-watered, winter-resistant lawn, don’t mow your lawn too short.

This is for several reasons, Hoon explained.

The first reason is that taller grass provides more shade, which helps prevent too much sunlight from reaching the moisture-laden soil and drying it out in the sunlight.

“When you mow the grass longer, it helps shade the ground better. It helps retain moisture better in the ground,” Hohn said.

The other reason is that it helps maintain root length, which is vital for having a resilient grass that can survive during droughts or harsh winters by being drawn from water deep in the ground.

Hohn explained that the roots grow and contract in proportion to the length of the grass above the ground. When cut too short, the roots also shrink. This makes the grass less resilient.

“The deeper the roots are the further the moisture will get – and the greater the chance the grass will survive,” he said.

Longer grass, of course, means a trade-off between the possibility of a nicer lawn, and having to get up more often for Sunday afternoon football games to mow the lawn. Hon’s suggestion:

“Usually a good rule of thumb is to leave three to four inches when mowing,” he said.

Tip No. 2: To have a wonderful garden come spring, supervise it in the fall

As we head into the hottest parts of summer, cool fall temperatures are a relief to the heart — and provide a great climate for plants to grow without the heat sucking out moisture. However, Hoehn said now is a good time to moderate, using a slightly larger amount than you normally would.

“Now is a good time to monitor because it doesn’t get as hot during the day and stays cooler at night. You want to start the seeding process before winter comes,” Hoehn said. This way you will have a better chance of filling your garden when spring comes.”

Tip #3: Now is a good time to get rid of weeds – weed killer is your friend.

Now is a good time to keep up with your weeding efforts, Hohn said, noting that while it’s a year-round struggle to keep weeds at bay, now could be a good time to overwinter a weed-free yard.

“If you have weeds in your garden, now is a good time to spray them and kill them,” Hohn said. “Come winter, all you want to do is try to have a weed-free yard.”

He usually does two rounds of spraying every year.

“I usually kill weeds in the spring, early summer, mid-summer, and if necessary in the fall,” he said.

Tip #4: Don’t forget to use a winterizing product

At the end of autumn, Hoehn stressed that it is very important to use winter fertilizer, a type of fertilizer that is particularly high in nitrogen and potassium, which helps retain nutrients during the long winter months. Applied about a month after a fall fertilizer, it can be a very important step in a quick start to spring, and can also help keep your lawn green through the long winter months.

“Right now, the grass is storing nutrients in the roots, which is what it helps with. This way, when spring comes, it will help it turn green faster,” Hoehn said.

Kay English joined The Mitchell Republican in 2023, where he currently works as a digital reporter covering the greater Mitchell area. English graduated from St. John’s College in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.

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