Northern Nevada gardening and landscaping: Tips for a healthy lawn | Carson City Nevada News

Lawns are easy to keep green when it’s cool. But how do you keep a lawn healthy when the weather warms up and the demand for water increases? Follow these tips to conserve water, displace weeds, and grow a dense, green lawn.

Start by mowing high, about three inches or the highest setting on your lawnmower. Longer grass promotes deep roots, retains soil moisture, and displaces weeds. If you mow too little scalp, brown spots will appear on the lawn. When mowing, do not remove more than a third of the blade of grass to reduce the strain on the grass.

With a mulching mower, you can put the grass waste back into the ground to nourish the grass. This adds organics to the soil and reduces the amount of fertilizer needed.

Another great tip is to start the season with sharp blades. Good clean cuts are better for lawn health than ragged tear cuts. Depending on how much you mow, you may need to have the blades sharpened a few times each season.

Water early in the morning or in the evening when the wind is calm. Water deep to encourage deep roots. This makes the grass more resistant to drought stress. If you have a problem with water that doesn’t penetrate the soil easily, pour it in several short cycles per day to prevent it from draining.

Improve the penetration of water into the soil with core aeration. This will reduce soil compaction and help get rid of straw. After aerating, add a 1 cm layer of compost and pour it. Water on your home’s assigned watering days.

Do a can test to see how much water your irrigation system is delivering and whether it is watering evenly. Get three or four cans or coffee cups of the same size. Set the cans around the lawn and let the sprinkler cycle. When the sprinklers are done, look inside the cans.

Measure the amount of water in each. Is the amount the same in each can? If there’s a huge difference between the amounts in each can, adjust the sprinklers so that the water covers your grass evenly. Repeat this test for each watering station. About an inch of water a week will do now, but you’ll need to increase that amount to nearly two inches if the weather is in your 90s.

Never fertilize in the summer heat. Fertilize every now and then in autumn. And if you only fertilize once a year, autumn is the best time to go.

This article is from “Tips for a Healthy Lawn,” by Melody Hefner, 2019, Extension / University of Nevada, Reno.

– JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at

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