Early Springtime Lawn Care Tips

Winter-Lawn-CareEarly Spring Preparation

It’s important to start early with your lawn care rituals. As soon as the snow has melted and the ground is thawed, you should walk your lawn and take note of any bald patches and weeds.

If the soil in your yard is firm and appears to be compact, you’ll want to aerate before anything else to ensure it gets the water, nutrients and oxygen it needs to thrive. A great riding mower attachment to have is an aerator spreader.

If you’ve got primarily clay or acidic soil, you can add lime to raise the pH level. If you’ve got alkaline soil, you can spread some sulfur to lower the pH level.

Another great way to improve the health of any soil in early spring is to spread a thin layer of compost over your hard. You don’t want to use so much that it covers the grass, just enough that it sprinkles in around the roots near the soil (between the blades of grass).

 

Fertilizing

Most of us are familiar with the benefits of fertilizing your lawn. Doing so will provide strong, healthy, dense turf with less weed growth. Early spring isn’t always the best time to fertilize though. Keep an eye on your lawn, and after the grass begins growing at a noticeable pace, this is when you should spread fertilizer.

During the hotter months of summer, the grass may not grow as much. This is natural, and you don’t need to add fertilizer during this time. Instead, wait until early to mid fall and do your second phase of fertilizing then.

 

Watering

New grass seed needs some water to germinate and start growing, but don’t overdo it. Use a spray nozzle to evenly cover the ground until it’s moist but not puddling. Use a sprinkler and set it to water thoroughly (1/2 – 1 inch of water) about once per week.

Make sure the water is applied slowly so it soaks in rather than running off. This encourages the roots to grow deeper for absorbed water, making the grass more resilient. Always make sure to allow your soil to dry between waterings so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for fungi that spread with prolonged moisture.

 

Weeds

If you see any large weed patches beginning to thrive when seeding your lawn, remove them by the roots and replace them with some grass seed.

The best way to prevent weed growth is to encourage thick, vigorously growing grass. If your grass is thriving well, the weeds wont be able to compete. If you wish to use a type of herbicide, use a pre-emergent herbicide that’s eco-friendly.

However, make certain you don’t use the herbicide until after your new grass seeds have germinated and taken hold with their roots. Herbicides like this will prevent grass seeds from germinating and should be used after growth has begun.

 

Wait to Mow

While you may be eager to break out the lawn mower, it’s a very good idea to let it grow a bit long before the first mowing of the season. Let it grow about 4 inches or so so the roots take hold. Then when you mow, take off about 1 inch, leaving your grass about 2 1/2 – 3 inches long.

Using a mulching kit is a great idea to keep the cut grass pieces blended into the lawn. These small mulched pieces of grass will decompose and provide added nutrients to the soil throughout the growing season.

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Mower Madness in Full Swing

Mower Madness 2014At Mowers Direct, we’ve been seeing a lot of participation in our most recent event, Mower Madness.

Results have been insanely surprising, and some major contenders have been knocked out of the tournament by unlikely candidates.

Beginning round 3 today, we’ve seen a lot of back and forth between match-ups.

Round 3 Matchups

The third round of Mower Madness tips off today and will continue for three days, ending in the late morning hours of March 31st.

The remaining 16 lawn mower brands are separated into four divisions.

Bluegrass Division

  • Poulan Pro vs. Swisher
  • Black & Decker vs. Simplicity

Bermuda Division

  • Snapper vs. Ariens
  • Grasshopper vs. Scag

Fescue Division

  • Dixie Chopper vs. Troy-Bilt
  • Ferris vs. Honda

Bent Grass Division

  • John Deere vs. Gravely
  • Husqvarna vs. Hustler

 

Visit www.MowersDirect.com/MowerMadness to vote in Round 3.

 

Two Weeks Until Spring

8732718624_677e673940_zWith the official date of spring, March 20, just two weeks away, it’s hard to believe we’re still getting snow in parts of the country.

Up here in Chicagoland, we’re getting a bit of snow today, but in just 14 days, temperatures will be reaching into the 60s with rain and thunder storms.

While there may not be a gradual transition from winter to spring, it won’t be late. Spring’s official date will hold true, and by the end of this month you’ll see some grass.

If you need a new mower this season, now’s a good time to start researching. Check the most current ratings and reviews at Mowers Direct.

Springtime is also a great opportunity to do some overseeding. Using an overseeder in springtime when the temperatures level out in the mid 50s is very beneficial to thickening your lawn.

Use a mulching kit with your mower on a higher setting through the first part of the summer and heavily water your lawn once per week to help the seeds take well.

Help Your Lawn Breathe

Walk-Behind Aerators

Walk-Behind Aerators

Over time, the soil your lawn grows from becomes compressed, leaving no room for it to breathe. When this happens, your yard’s roots can’t get enough oxygen and nitrogen from the soil.

This especially becomes a problem if you use a lawn roller. While lawn rollers can help make your lawn look great, they also compress the soil, eventually robbing your grass of essentials.

Tow-Behind Aerators

Tow-Behind Aerators

By aerating your lawn, you loosen the dirt and allow it to breathe. When you should aerate can vary, depending upon what type of soil you have and what type of climate you live in.

In warmer climates, it’s usually best to break out the lawn aerator during late spring or early summer. However, in cooler climates, it’s usually best to hook up your tow-behind aerator during late summer or early fall.

Also, depending upon your soil, you may have to do it more frequently. With clay soil, compression happens much more easily. Therefore, you’ll need to aerate twice a year – spring and fall.

Zero Turn Plow Blades

NAP-ZC3_12123_feature2The Nordic Auto Plow Zero Turn Plow Blade, has the capabilities of attaching to nearly all zero turn lawn mowers thanks to the steel pivoting mounting bracket. The T-handle pin allows the operator to adjust the angle of the blade in five positions.

This plow has a lightweight, rustproof design with rounded edge technology to reduce the friction and wear of the blade. The rounded edges allow the blade to glide easily over any uneven surface, such as gravel or paver bricks. This rounded edge design also assists in the plow not leaving mark on your driveway, rust markings, or scratches on the pavement.

The advantage of reversing the blade increases longevity. Due to the angle and weight of the Nordic Auto Plow, there is no need for a cutting edge. The significant of force of the machine, allows the operator to get a clean sweep of the snow, slush, mulch, dirt, etc.

3 Reasons to Use a Corded Mower

25022_5117_600Gas lawn mowers are the standard in many back yards, but times – they are a changin’.

1. While you may hate pull-starting your mower so much that you’re exhausted before you’ve even begun mowing, a corded electric mower doesn’t need to be pull-started. It starts with the push of a button or the turn of a key.

2. With two-stroke gas engines, you have to mix oil with the gasoline. This can be a real chore, and if not mixed properly can generate plumes of smoke in your face when you start it up. Even 4-stroke gas engines require checking oil and adding fresh gasoline on a regular basis. Corded mowers don’t require any gas or any oil changes.

3. Neighbors get annoyed with the noise your mower makes, especially if it’s outside of the 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. slot on Saturday. In addition, the noise and the vibration of the handle are enough to even drive you a little nuts! Corded electric lawn mowers are surprisingly quiet and produce virtually no vibration in the handle. That means you get a smooth quiet mow without ticking off your neighbors.

 

Corded Mower TIPS

  • When using an electric corded mower, keep the cord over your shoulder to better control it behind the mower.
  • Always move parallel along slopes instead of up/down slopes when mowing on an uneven surface. This will help prevent you from sliding into the mower or having it roll down on you.
  • Move the cord away from the discharge chute at every turn to avoid discharging debris into it.

 

How to Make a Lawn Mower Maneuver Better

walk_behind_swivelYou may notice that it can be a bit of a challenge to smoothly turn your mower around shrubs, trees, and planters.

If you’re looking for an easier way to steer your mower on sharp turns, there is a fairly simple solution.

Some walk behind mowers come equipped with swivel wheels, also referred to as front casters. Usually you’ll find them on self-propelled walk behind mowers.

universal_swivel_wheels

There are also some universal kits available as well that will fit multiple makes and models if you’re interested in installing them on the mower you currently have.

Having front caster swivel wheels makes your push mower glide across the yard like a zero turn mower, which will not only save you time, but also energy.

Usually when you’re facing the chore of mowing your lawn, you just want to get it done as soon as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you want it to look like you cut corners (literally or metaphorically). With swivel wheels you can breeze through the job with a lot more speed and efficiency. Because you don’t have to tilt the mower on its hind wheels to rotate on the spot, you don’t run the risk of shaving a bare spot in the process.

So when it’s 95 degrees and you have to mow the lawn, don’t sweat it – get it done with a breeze using swivel wheels!

3 Ways Rear Engine Riding Mowers Make Your Life Easier

If you’ve never heard of rear engine riding mowers, they’re simply riding mowers with the engine positioned under the seat.

They consist of a very simple design and offer a variety of options to fit your mowing habits.

Here are 3 ways rear engine riding mowers will make your life easier.

1. Mulch, Bag, or Shoot

You can choose to mulch the clippings, bag the clippings, or even simply shoot the clippings out the side-discharge.

For a very clean lawn, you can choose a hi-vac mower, which has a unique rolled-deck edge that actually vacuums up the grass clippings. Use this style of mower with a bagger for the cleanest lawn you can get.

2. Shift or Cruise 

You can opt for a manual transmission or take it easy with an automatic transmission. Manual transmissions are cheaper and easier to work on, but require shifting gears manually.

An automatic hydrostatic transmission provides a smoother ride for those who like to cruise while they mow, but they also come with a bigger price tag.

3. Keep it Simple 

Unlike with a lot of things in life these days, you know exactly what you’re going to get with a rear engine riding mower. They’re simple and easy to understand, which means no unwanted surprises.

If you want to take a step further and avoid dealing with gas and oil changes, you can even purchase an electric rider for the ultimate in ease of use.

Mulching Blades vs. Regular Blades

mulchvsstandardPeople use all kinds of terms when talking about their mower blades, so it’s not unusual to become a bit confused about them.

There are basically two kinds of mower blades. There’s standard mower blades, and there’s mulching blades.

Standard mower blades, sometimes called “high-lift blades” or “2-in-1 blades,” are the most common blades that simply cut the grass and propel it outward. They are called 2-in-1 blades because you can discharge the clippings or bag the clippings with the same blades. They’re also called high-lift blades because they create a higher lifting airflow to propel the clippings quickly away from the blades through either the discharge chute or into the collection bag.

Mulching blades, sometimes called all-purpose blades or 3-in-1 blades, are more complex in design. They’re called 3-in-1 because they are capable of mulching, discharging, and bagging. However, because mulching blades recirculate the grass through the blades for the purpose of mulching, they don’t create the same powerful airflow for discharging the clippings.

If you’re the kind to stay on top of mowing your lawn every 3-4 days, you may benefit from a mulching kit. However, if you’re the type who waits until your yard is six inches long before mowing, you may want to stick with standard high-lift blades.

While most mowers likely come equipped with a standard blade, some come equipped with mulching blades. If you’re not sure what blade your mower has, you can turn the mower over and inspect the blade. If there’s a model number stamped into it, check that with the manufacturer to determine what style of blade it is.

How Do You Sharpen a Reel Mower?

16040_5080_600I sometimes have people asking me, “How do you sharpen a reel mower?” I find it interesting because although it’s such an antiquated lawn mowing tool, it’s still being used to this day.

Reel lawn mowers are eco-friendly, and they give you more of a workout when you use them. The downside is that a reel mower doesn’t have an engine, so it takes longer and uses more of your physical energy to get the job done.

If you’ve got a large yard, it may not be the ideal choice, but a small to average lawn is doable as long as you keep up with it on a regular basis. Shorter grass is much quicker and easier to mow than longer grass.

But how do you sharpen a reel mower to keep it efficient? The best way

First, you’ll want to remove the bolt on the left side of the reel mower. Use a wrench to do this, and understand that it may take quite a bit of torque to get it loosened. If you’re having trouble, call in an assistant for some help. is with the use of a reel mower sharpening kit.

Second, you’ll need to remove the cover on the outside of the wheel and find the small piece of metal sticking out approximately 3/4 of an inch.

Take out the hand crank from your sharpening kit, slip it over the piece of metal, and lock it in place. Rotate the handle in a counter-clockwise motion to ensure that it’s working properly.

Brush a liberal amount of the sharpening solution from your kit onto the blades. Then, using your hand crank, rotate the blades in a counter clockwise direction for 10 or more minutes.

When you first begin cranking the blades, you’ll hear a loud grinding sound, but the sound should lessen as you see shinier and sharper blade edges emerge.

Repeat by adding more sharpening solution and grinding until the blades are sufficiently sharp. Once they are sharp enough, you may wipe the remaining solution off of the blades and reassemble the mower. Tighten the blades only enough to get them close but not touching.

Ideal40_500

How long it takes may vary depending on whether you have a 4 blade reel mower, a 5 blade reel mower, or a 7 blade reel mower.

Lubricate the nuts and bolts and test it out on a section of your lawn.

For more information on mowers and accessories, visit www.mowersdirect.com

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