Garden Talk: Spring Lawn Care

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Lawns can be the background for your garden, or a centerpiece on its own. Tune in to find out how to have a lovely lawn without needing to use a lot of chemicals or water.

Featured in this Show

  • Sharp Lawn Mower Blades Make For Healthy Grass, Soil Scientist Says

    Even if temperatures are still chilly, some lawns around Wiscosin are greening up and growing, and the rest are not far behind. That not only means some welcome color, but also the need to get out the lawn mower.

    Doug Soldat, an associate professor of soil science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that having the right tools and keeping them in the best condition will not only make the work easier, but will also keep the grass healthier.

    “Mowing is tough on the grass, and it’s the thing you do most often to it. So, that’s what makes lawns special, but it’s also a stress,” Soldat said.

    Soldat likened mowing with a dull blade to getting cut with a dull knife.

    “Just like if you cut yourself, you’d rather have a nice sharp, clean cut than a dull one. And grasses are the same way,” Soldat said.

    When the blades aren’t sharp, they tear the tops of the grass. Soldat said that as a result, more water and fertilizer is needed to keep the lawn looking good.

    The average homeowner might not know when their blades were last sharpened, or if they need to be. Soldat said that an easy way to know if the blades are sharp enough is to inspect the grass closely.

    “The tell-tale signs are these little white fibers that stick out of the end. So, a day or two after you mow, get down on your hands and knees and look at the tips of those blades of grass. If you see any of those white fibers hanging out, that’s a sign that your mower blades are too dull,” Soldat said.

    Soldat said that most hardware stores will be able to sharpen lawn mower blades. He added that small engine repair shops will also provide that service. For those that have the skills and tools, he said that blades can be sharpened at home with a bench grinder.

    To always have a sharp blade available, Soldat recommends having a spare handy. That way, he said, if you really need to cut the grass on a particular day, you know that you have the right tool for the job.

    More lawn care resources are available on the UW-Madison Turfgrass Science website. The UW Extension’s Learning Store also has several publications about home lawn care.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Doug Soldat Guest

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