Caring for Your Landscape

Lawns and Landscapes


Most people do not realize that if they choose suitable grasses and other plants, watering in the Northeast is usually unnecessary. It is natural for your grass to turn yellowish during hot, dry spells. This is a normal state called dormancy, which a healthy lawn can withstand. Your grass will regain its vibrancy with the next rainfall. If you choose to water your lawn:Observe local outdoor water bans.Place sprinklers in areas where you won't be wastefully watering your sidewalk or driveway.Water in the early morning to prevent the growth of fungi and minimize evaporation.Water deeply and infrequently. Deeper watering encourages the roots of grass to grow long and healthy, allowing your lawn to survive drier periods and saving money on your water bill.Most lawns need less than one inch of water to saturate grass roots 4-6 inches in length. Place an empty coffee can in the watering area and measure the amount of water in the can to determine when you have watered enough.


Proper mowing is one of the most important ways to maintain a healthy lawn. Below are some helpful mowing hints for maintaining a perfect lawn. Mow only when the grass is dry to get a clean cut and minimize the spread of disease.Mow grass to a height of 2-3 inches. The longerthe grass, the more water is retained and thelonger the roots of your lawn will be, making it stronger and more tolerant. Keeping your grass longer also may allow it to outcompete weeds, reducing the need for herbicides.Mow frequently, cutting no more than a third of the height of the grass at a time. Cutting more grass than this at one time and mowing infrequently can damage your grass.Sharpen your mower blade to avoid damaging grass blades. Mower blades should be sharpened once a year and touched up after every 10 hours of mowing.Do not dispose of grass clippings in nearby waters. The clippings will break down and encourage the growth of algae which depletes the oxygen in water and impacts fish and other aquatic species. If you choose not to leave your clippings on your lawn, compost them.


Grass clippings contain high amounts of nitrogen, a key ingredient in fertilizer. Use your grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn. It may be all the fertilizer you need, and it will save you time and money. Clippings are approximately 85 percent water, so they usually decompose within a week and will not smother your lawn. The easiest and most common way to spread clippings is called mulching; mulching mowers cut the grass into smaller pieces and then blow them back onto your lawn. If your soil test and the plants you have chosen demand that you apply fertilizer in addition to your clippings:

  • Use organic or slow-release fertilizers; these types are less likely to wash off your lawn than inorganic or fast-release fertilizers.
  • Fertilize in the fall, but beware of weather patterns. Although some rainfall is helpful in distributing fertilizer, a heavy downpour will wash the fertilizer off your lawn and into nearby waters.
  • Be careful not to apply more than the recommended amount of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can burn the grass, damage the soil, and attract pests.

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