Consumer Reports: Keep your lawn looking its best

Want to have the best lawn on your block? A Consumer Reports expert shares his pro tips on how to keep your grass looking its best without wasting a lot of water.

You might think keeping your grass green is tough during the summer, especially if you don't want your water bill to break the bank.

But with Consumer Reports' advice, it's easier than you think.

Green with envy over your neighbors grass? Consumer Reports Yard Equipment Expert Peter Sawchuk says don't be.

"If you follow the right techniques, you can have a perfectly green lawn without a lot of fertilizer, water, or even consistent cutting," he said.

First things first - stop cutting your grass so short. Raise the height on your mower deck to at least three inches.

"Taller grass has longer roots. Those roots gain more moisture down in the soil. And the taller grass actually shades the area around the ground and reduces evaporation," said Peter.

Next, instead of bagging your clippings, set your mower to mulch.

"Those clippings go back in between the grass blades, decompose, and add nutrients to the soil," said Peter.

And when you're done mulching, be sure to clear your mower's deck of any leftover grass. Buildup can get in the way and reduce airflow, which is essential for cutting longer grass.

Another must-do for great grass is to sharpen your mower blade at the start of the season and twice during the season.

"A sharp blade is most important because it makes a very clean cut on the grass, while a dull blade whacks the grass, stresses it out, and it will turn it brown," said Peter.

And finally, Peter says don't overdo it when it comes to watering. An established lawn only needs about an inch of water, including rainfall, a week.

Consumer Reports says you can cut back on fertilizing, too. You really only need to fertilize at most twice a year, most important, in the fall.

Also, instead of fertilizing in the spring, as soon as the snow melts during the winter - put down pelletized lime.

It helps neutralize the acid in the snow and make the next application of fertilizer work more efficiently.
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