Why Are We Chasing Our Tails With Lawn Care?

My life over the last 25 years or so has occurred in the suburbs of Chicago where many of my neighbors try to take good care of their lawn. I don’t know if it’s friendly competition with the neighbors or the idea many neighbors want a green and soft lawn to enjoy — one must realize our growing season may exist for half the year so many enjoy it while we can. To that end, many of my neighbors hire ChemLawn and Scott’s Lawn Care to provide the 4-step lawn treatment during the Midwestern growing season.

z2Most of these same men bag or capture the grass as it’s mowed. In addition, it’s interesting that they are trying to what is best for their lawn. However, by catching the grass clippings, they are removing valuable nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from their lawn. The same nutrients the lawn chemical companies put down 4-5 times a year.

Mind you, once the fertilizer is applied to the lawn that boost gets the grass looking nice and gives the grass a boost to grow quickly for a little while after application. What’s the effect? Mowing more often, especially after spring rains. But how do they mow? They’ll need to mow more often but they if they bag or capture the grass, what’s the result? By doing this, they are removing valuable nutrients that the chemical company had recently added. So in between chemical applications and as some of the nutrients are being removed, the lawn begins to resemble an average looking lawn but have no fear, the chem fix is right around the corner.

It’s typical to have a dry spell during the summer months in the Midwest. Dry weather may fall upon us in June or wait until the dog days of summer to make an appearance. One thing is certain, the dry spell will indeed make an appearance. So if your lawn gets dry during any of these months and you spend good money on lawn care, what to do? Especially if you’re not 100% certain on the best approach. For those unaware that it’s ok for the grass to be dormant during a certain period, some may water to avoid any dormancy, which means the grass may begin to grow again and guess what are the effects? By grabbing those grass clippings, you’re taking away key nutrients away from the lawn, especially during dry weather.z3

One could argue that those not too interested in lawn care or are all about efficiency may buy a good mulching lawn mower so they don’t have to mess with grabbing grass clippings and deciding on the type of disposal. These same people may not realize they’re likely to save 30 percent time by using a mulching mower. Whether you realize it or not, you’re saving time and money. As the adage goes, it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good.

Whether those mulchers area aware or not, according to the University of Missouri (MU) extension, Yard waste accounts for approximately 20 percent of all waste materials. Therefore, even if you were unaware of the best approach, environmentally you could argue the reduction of additional waste being added to landfills but mulching one’s lawn.

z1There have been times over the years that I’ve gone out on a limb and mentioned the value of mulching one’s lawn to some of my neighbors and friends. Their response quite often is they are worried about excess waste, which could lead to a thatch issue with your lawn. According to the research at MU, clippings will not contribute to the thatch problem. I guess you can bring a horse to water but can’t make them drink.

Again I must ask, are some of us chasing our tails with lawn care?


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