As I get older I worry a little less each year about weeds in the yard. Hey, if it’s green, we’re good. But one reason why I worry less about weeds growing in the yard is that I have fewer and fewer of them growing than just a few years ago.

Why? Well for one, I stopped being my own worst enemy when it came to weed control. I like a well-kept yard and I also believe that the best landscaping tool we have is our lawn mower. That said, it can also be the cause of many of our lawn’s issues as well.

Nothing helps a lawn naturally suppress weeds more than a thick stand of grass. We can overseed and fertilize to help our grass be more productive, but it is probably more important to not injure or kill the grass you have by operating your mower at less than optimal conditions.

The first thing you should try to do is raise your mower deck to 4 inches in height. Most all of our lawns are comprised of cool season grasses that grow best in the spring and fall. These grasses lose too much of their photosynthetic abilities if they are cut lower than 4 inches.

Warm season grasses, by comparison, should not be allowed to grow past one and a half to two inches in height. In our area, most of the warm season grasses are found on football field playing surfaces or golf courses, not in the normal lawn.

You may find that the only way to get your mower deck to mow at 4 inches is to trade your current mower. While that is a drastic step, it is something you should keep in mind if you are purchasing a new machine.

Besides mowing at 4 inches, you also need to check your blades for sharpness. Dull blades tend to tear the grass instead of clipping it. In much the same manner as an incision heals better than a laceration, clipped grass rebounds faster. That will equate to needing more mowing, but it will also mean that the grasses will tiller (spread out) more and cover more area resulting in a thicker turf.

Thicker turf will result in less sunlight penetrating to the ground level where “baby” broadleaf weeds like dandelion and thistles are waiting. Thicker turf will also keep the ground surface cooler so it will take less water to keep your lawn green. Finally, thicker turf just looks better so you don’t react so quickly to put down extra grass seed and fertilizer.

Finally, mowing at the best height and proper sharpness will “hide” imperfections in our surface smoothness as well. Mowing low will bring out every rut and hole because the deck will strike the ground and skin the turf. Raising the deck helps this but I also recommend that one of the simplest things to do to ensure your lawn has a level mower is to check and balance your tire pressure. All too often, an out-of-balance clipping is not a deck or blade issue but rather simply a flat or almost flat tire.

Upcoming Events

June 19--Deadline to consign calves to the July VQA Sale.

July 15--VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market.

July 17--Deadline to Consign Calves to the August VQA Sale.

July 20--VQA Steer Take-Up, Tri State Livestock Market, 6:30 a.m. to noon.

July 22--VQA Heifer Take Up, Tri State Livestock Market, 6:30 a.m. to noon.

July 25-Aug 1--Rich Valley Fair.

*4-H Camp has been cancelled for 2020.

Sept. 28 – Oct. 3--State Fair of Virginia.

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1--National Ag Agents Meeting, Virginia Beach.

Oct. 14--Smyth County 4th Grade Ag Field Day.

Oct. 16--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Nov. 11 VQA Sale.

Oct. 20-22--Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Oct. 30--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Dec. 2 VQA Sale.

Nov. 11--VQA Calf Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16--VQA Steer Take Up.

Nov. 16--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 6 p.m.

Nov. 18--VQA Heifer Take Up.

Nov. 19--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 8:30 a.m.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in these activities, call Andy Overbay or Pam Testerman at 276-783-5175/TDD 800-828-1120 from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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