Extension Office offers tips on growing lush, green landscape

When the yellow dusting of pollen hits, you know spring is in full season. It’s the perfect time to prepare your lawn and garden for a delightful summer.

The Henrico Extension Office offers a variety of services to help Henrico homeowners create a lush landscape that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Experts recommend cutting less than one-third of the grass blade height to limit weed infestation and disease.

The SMART Lawns program provides homeowners with a plan tailored to fit their specific lawn-care needs.

“A Master Gardener volunteer will come to your home to evaluate your lawn,” said Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources – Horticulture Ed Olsen.

The Master Gardener will collect a lawn soil sample and formulate a nutrient management plan. It will tell you what kind of fertilizer to apply to your grass, how much you should use and when to put it down. The program runs April to August and costs $30. Enroll here.

You can also send in a soil sample. Kits are available at the Extension Office as well as at county libraries and recreation centers.

Master Gardener volunteers at the Henrico Extension Office offer diagnostic services for diseased and damaged plants and trees. They also run a Horticulture Helpline to answer your gardening and pest questions. The number is (804) 501-5160.

“It’s important to nurture a lawn and garden as they grow,” said Olsen. “How you mow your grass matters.”

“As a general rule, never take off more than one-third of the grass blade when mowing,” he added. “Taking off more leads to weed growth, infestation and disease.”

Olsen explained mowing the grass makes it shorter but it also stimulates new growth which in turn creates a healthier, denser lawn.

“It’s important that your mower blade is sharp. Having a dull blade can tear grass plants leaving ragged and damaged plant tips,” he said.

That can lead to “dull mower disease” which will leave your lawn looking yellow and unhealthy. Olsen recommended sharpening a mower blade every 25 hours of use or at least twice a season.

He also suggested never mowing when it’s wet. It causes grass to clump, may leave ruts in your yard and leads to soil compaction. It might also damage your lawn mower.

Watering the lawn is as important as mowing. Spring is the right time to calibrate an irrigation system. During the growing season, a lawn needs 1 inch of water per week.

“Schedule your sprinklers in the early morning,” suggested Olsen. “That allows the water to soak into the soil.”

When you water during the day, much of the moisture evaporates under the hot sun. When you water during the evening, the dampness on the grass leads to disease.

Colorful, healthy landscaping gives a home great curb appeal. If you have questions about how to make it your own personal masterpiece, call the Henrico Extension Office at (804) 501-5160.

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