Can cutting back on lawn watering improve the health of your grass?

Consumer Reports: Lawns and Chemicals
Consumer Reports: Lawns and Chemicals

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It may seem counterintuitive, but watering your grass less frequently can actually improve your lawn.

“Because watering less will encourage the grass to grow deeper roots, and develop resistance to drought,” Consumer Report health editor Catherine Roberts said.

Roberts also wants you to know watering at night can actually promote fungus. Early morning watering -- before the heat of the day -- is recommended.

Consumer Reports reviewed other advice from lawn-care experts and outlined some easy strategies to improve your lawn while making it safer for your family and the environment.

  • Keep the grass a little taller -- about 3 or 4 inches.
  • Keep the blades on your mower sharp.
  • Use the mulching mode, which will cut the grass into fine clippings and deposit them back into the soil as grass clippings actually contain many of the same nutrients found in chemical-based fertilizers.
  • While it gets a bad rap, clover is especially good for your lawn. It adds nitrogen and keeps other lawn weeds at bay.

And Consumer Reports says, when it comes to planting your garden, embrace native plants.

“Native plants have evolved to thrive exactly where they are, Roberts said. “They’ll attract local birds and beneficial insects and pollinators.”

The best way to take care of your lawn depends on a number of things, including the type of soil and grass you have and how much sun it gets. The University of Florida offers a lot of good advice on Florida-friendly landscaping.

Susan Rubin knows a yard free of synthetic chemicals requires some strategy. But a holistic approach can improve the health of the soil and prevent pest outbreaks before they happen.

She also turned reduced the size of her lawn to plant a food garden.

“Got a little baby bok choy, some salad. And then I got some radishes coming up,” said Rubin. “So, yeah, this is dinner.”

Finally, if you have space, add a compost pile or bin to recycle table scraps and garden waste. You’ll be rewarded with nutrient-rich compost that your plants and lawn will love.

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