Cutting the grass. Some people find it enjoyable, a way to get in some exercise, or just another chore on their “to do” list. Whether you enjoy or dread cutting your grass, there are some things you should keep in mind this mowing season.
If you are a new homeowner or are new to cutting your grass, you may be wondering "why should I adjust my mowing height?" It simply means, don’t cut down more than one-third of the grass blades in a single cutting. Removing more than one-third of the height can cause significant damage to the grass and open the door for weeds. What should you do if your grass is really high or overgrown? You will need to mow the lawn at a higher setting, then wait a few days, and mow again. Yep! That’s twice, or thrice. However, this technique will not only give you a well-maintained lawn, it will also keep it healthy.
Remember to leave the grass clippings on your lawn; they make great fertilizer and return nutrients to your soil. If you are using a blower, be sure to blow the clippings back onto your lawn. When clippings are blown into the street, they will eventually end up in storm drains and can cause clogs or the clippings will decay in streams and damage water quality.
In North Texas, nearly all storm drains are not connected to wastewater treatment facilities, which removes harmful pollutants from our water. When clippings enter our waterways, they begin to break down. As the clippings decompose, excess phosphorus is produced. Extra phosphorus in the waterways increases the amount of algae blooms. As algae grows, it blocks sunlight and reduces oxygen levels in the water. When the oxygen levels are reduced, aquatic life will begin to die.
Cutting your lawn and leaving the grass clippings in your yard can accomplish so much – you have a well-maintained yard; the grass clippings are serving as fertilizer, which is better for the environment than chemically-based fertilizers; you have helped to protect storm drains and our waterways, which will keep all aquatic life safe.
Good job! And you thought, cutting your yard, was just another chore to check off your “to-do” list. Now you can add protecting water quality to your list so you can check it off too!
For more information on stormwater and yard waste prevention, please check out http://www.nctcog.org/envir/watershed-management/stormwater/yard-waste.