Mow, fertilize, water and rake less

  • Water only when it hasn't rained for seven days, and only water in the early morning hours before 10 a.m. Grasses naturally grow slower in the summer, so brown grass usually means it's just dormant, not dead.

  • Weeds can tell you something about what's wrong with your lawn. Take time to identify your weeds and treat them appropriately to strengthen and improve your lawn. A weed-free lawn is not necessarily a healthy one.

    -- Moss may indicate that the site is too shady or too wet for grass to survive.

    -- Creeping Charlie may indicate that the site is too shady or the soil drains poorly.

    -- Dandelions may indicate that the grass is too thin.

    -- Hawkweed may indicate that the soil is low in nutrients.

    -- Plantain may indicate that the soil is compacted or drains poorly.

    By taking time today to figure out exactly what your lawn needs, you will help keep it healthy in the future. This will decrease the amount of time and money you will have to care for it tomorrow. By keeping your grass length longer, the roots of your grass go deeper and can reach more water during dry periods. You save water, money and time.

    Longer grass also creates more shade and makes it harder for weeds to get established in your lawn. By leaving your clippings on the lawn you will fertilize your grass throughout the summer. Control weeds by interrupting the cycle of seed production instead of relying on chemicals. Dig weeds up or cut off flowering stalks.+

    Need a soil test?

    Do you need to fertilize your lawn? Have your soil tested to find out.

    Call the University of Minnesota Extension Service Yard and Garden Line at 624-4771. Tell them you want to have your soil tested, and they will mail you a form to fill out and a bag for the soil sample. You collect the soil sample and mail it to St. Paul along with the form and payment (a regular soil test is $12.50). The results are mailed back to you in about 10 days. The extension service also gets a copy so that they can help you interpret the results.

    For more information, call the Hennepin County Master Gardener Hotline at 374-8433 or check out the University of Minnesota Extension Service online at www.extension.

    Source: Hennepin County Environmental Services