The Impatient Gardener By: Jerry Backer, Master Gardener Prepared: By Howard Dunlap of Missouri City Texas, for His friends Subject: Lawn care First some facts and helpful hints on care and feeding of your lawn. 1.) Thatch: 75 to 80% of all lawn problems are result of thatch. Thatch is the accumulation of grass clippings. It becomes the breeding place for lawn diseases, insects, and weed seeds. It also restricts the penetration of water, fertilizers, fungicides, and insecticides. One should dethatch at least once every two years. Note! Do not throw your thatch, as it is raw compost for your garden. Best time to dethatch is before any lawn jobs are started in early spring. 2.) Spring Scalping: as soon as you have dethatched, install a newly sharpened and balanced mower blade well oiled with Pam cooking spray or any silicone spray. Drop the mower to just above the new growth. Collect all clippings for compost or un-spaded garden. Note! Never use a dull mower blade; it can do more damage than insects and diseases. (Keep it sharp.) 3.) Most well-fed lawns are starving: after you have dethatch and Scalped, its time to feed your lawn your brand of lawn food. But at only one half the amount recommended by the manufactures of the lawn food. (This is contrary to the above title right) further along you will see why. The time to feed your lawn in South Texas is the First of March and September. At half the recommended rate. 4.) Time for a Spring Grass Tonic: People, pets, and plants need a good tonic to get growing. Lawns are no exception. After you have done all the above spring prepping of you lawn its time to give it a tonic of the following . a.) 1 cup Epsom salts b.) 1 cup Listerine mouthwash c.) 1 cup dish liquid soap d.) 1 cup household ammonia e.) fill the balance of quart jar with beer Now spray up to 2500 square foot of lawn using a hose end sprayer’ ( Page one) 5.) Don’t wait for April showers: (Sound like a Erma Bombeck line ?) Grass loves a fairly Regular drink and shower, and the sooner it gets a drink in the spring the faster it will turn green. Never water after 2:00 p.m. unless you are rich and foolish, fungicides coat a fortune. 6.) One scalping per season is enough: Proper mowing not only keeps a lawn dense and neat, but also aids in maintaining the health of the grass so it can ward off diseases, insects, and weeds. Remove too much at one time shocks the plants physiology, resulting in root- system reduction as well as severely reducing its food manufacturing capacity. For best results only remove one-third of the blade. never mow the grass when wet from rain, dew, watering. Bermuda and St. Augustine. Should be at 1 to 1.5 inches. Height. Always mow befor Feeding, and never with in 24 hours after feeding. Water at least once After feeding and before mowing. Maintain maximum mowing height when the weather is very hot. 7.) Punch up your lawn: Since you are interested in saving money, time, And effort, as well as end up with the greenest scene on the block. Give your lawn a little punch in July and early August. Hook up the hose end sprayer again and fill it with household ammonia aver 5000 sq. feet. Your lawn loves it. 8.) Let your lawn work up a good lather: This is one piece of advice people really think is nuts, until they try it. Use plane old dish soap on the lawn every two to three weeks through the spring and summer. In hot dry periods it is even more important. Soap improves penetration of water in dry soil. It removes airborn pollution from the blades so osmosis can take place. It makes bugs sick and lawn diseases, ( as well as toadstools) wish they were never born. Use hose end sprayer. 9.) Summer Tonic: With all the modern techniques, chemicals and products this is stall one of the best picnics for lawn and is an extra bonus for your lawn. In a quart jar from your hose end feeder add the following in late July. a.) 1 cup household ammonia b.) 1 cup of Epson salts c.) 1 cup of Listerine mouthwash d.) ½ cup dish soap e.) 2 cans of beer tell the neighbors your giving the grass a party, you will be the last one to laugh when you have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood. (Page two) 10.) Fall Care: Don’t give up yet! The first day of spring is late August to the 30th of September. That is not a stupid statement! That is when mother nature sows her seeds. If you are going to sow grass seeds . it should be between Aug. 15 and Sep. 30 no matter what region people live in. 1a.) Dethatch if needed. 2a.) In late fall mow low and pick up the clippings. 3a.) Fertilize, buy the least expensive bag of weed and feed if not over seeding, if you are over seeding buy plain fertilize and feed at ½.) the recommended rate. 4a.) Soil conditioning, Spread lime and lawn and garden gypsum now, 50 pounds per 1500 square feet. It will constipate the bugs and aggravate any others. As well as mend dog waste damage. Also promoted green lawns. 5a.) Top Dress, lightly dress with sharp sand also called builders sand it has larger particles and resists compacting. 11.) Fall Tonic: In early October make a solution of the following in your hose sprayer. Covers 1500 sq. ft. a.) 2 cups of Epsom salts b.) 2 cups liquid dish soap c.) 3 tablespoons baking power d.) 1 cup of tobacco juice e.) fill balance of quart jar with water 12.) The Last Supper: In the south in early November apply an organic lawn food like Milorganite or other sludge-based lawn food. This is what the golf course superintendent do to prevent winter diseases rearing up next spring. Keep on mowing, move your blade back up to The summer height and mow until the grass stops growing. ( Page Three) P. S. Enjoy your envy of the neighborhood.