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Have you ever asked the following questions?  Why does my neighbor's lawn look better than mine? Or what can I do to maintain a beautiful lawn, without spending hundreds of dollars to a professional lawn care service?  If the answer is yes? Then you will need to know some basis information about, what grass exactly is?

Grass is the common name for the Gramineae family of plants.  With more than 9,000 species, this family is the largest on earth.  Grass have a very simple structure.  You can better understand what a grass needs when you can understand how it functions.   

At the base of the grass plant, roots grow down into the earth.  Typically, grass roots are fibrous, or hairlike.  They extend into the soil like fingers, collecting nutrients, soaking up water and securing the plant into the soil.  Grass stems, called culms, grow up from the base of the plant called a crown.  In most grass species, the culms are hollow and rigid, except at the nodes joints that join stem segments together.  Narrow leaves extend out from the culms, above each node.  The leaves alternate in direction.  That is, if the first leaf on a culm grows to the right, the second leaf will grow to the left and the third leaf will grow to the right and so on.  The lower part of the leaf is called a sheath, and the upper part is called the blade.  In most grasses, a ligule surrounds the connection between the sheath and the blade.  A ligule can take the form of a thin membrane or a fringe of hair-like projections.

Like the leaves on a tree, grass leaves serve to collect energy from sunlight through photosynthesis.  The photosynthesizing chlorophyll in the leaf gives grass its green color.  There are two major methods of reproduction in grasses.  Some grasses have additional stems that grow sideways, either below ground or just above it.  Stems that creep along the ground are called stolons, and stems that grow below ground are called rhizomes.  Grasses use stolons to reach out and establish new grass culms.

Because a grass plants backbone is its root system.  The roots need to be able to soak up water, collect nutrients, support the plant and, in some species, spread out to grow new plants.  A grass plant can only do these things effectively if the soil conditions are right. Therefore, the soils pH rating is very important. The ideal pH level is around 6.5 or 7, but levels vary between different grass species and climate conditions.  To improve your soils pH, you can amend it with topsoil, compost or fertilizer.

For a Healthy Lawn, Go Organic!

Research shows that chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used in lawns can be carcinogenic, and increase the presence of harmful nitrates in drinking water wells.  An easier alternative is to go organic.  To get the lushest lawn possible aerate the lawn so that compacted soil is loosened and water does not run off, but soaks into the ground, this will eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.  Use weed control products containing corn gluten meal to prevent weeds.  In short, going organic is all about growing wiser, trying to prevent damage before it happens, and growing a healthy lawn without risking family health. 

Make sure you mow properly using a sharp blade, because dull blades tear the grass leaving them vulnerable to disease, and do not mow down to less than 3  inches in summer.  Ensure that you do not have a layer of clippings and dead grass more then an inch thick by regular but controlled dethatching, so that you do not get fungus, and the water reaches the roots.  Apply organic fertilizers and manure based compost soils in early spring or summer so that the grass gets time to harden for winter.

Lawn Mowing Tips: For those who like to do it themselves!

Lawn mowing would seem like a simply task, but it must be done with great care.  Practicing proper mowing techniques can make a big difference in your lawns appearance.  Here are some tips that can guide you when you're mowing your lawn:

1.  When your grass reaches a length of over three inches, its time to trim it.  Make sure that for each cut, you don't trim more than 1/3 of the grass' height because doing so will wear out your lawn.

2.  Keep in mind that different grass types have different optimal heights.  Adjust your mower accordingly to cut at a height that is suitable for your type of grass.  Bermuda grass has an optimal height of 1" to 2", while St. Augustine and Ryegrass have an optimal height of 3".  Different species of Zoysia grass require an optimal height ranging from 1.5" to 2.5".

3.  Make sure that your grass is dry when you start mowing.  This keeps wet clipping from clumping on the lawn surface, and protects your mower blades from rust.

4.  Mowing your lawn every other week is enough during periods of slow growth.  However, during seasons when grass is growing rapidly, you should mow every 7 to 10 days depending on the type of grass for best results.

5.  Alternate the direction of your mower when cutting.  Mow across the lawn horizontally and then vertically, until you cut the grass at its optimal height.  This makes your grass grow more evenly and laterally, giving your lawn a cleaner look.

6.  Clean your lawn mowers blade before and after each cut.  This ensures a cleaner cut and prevents disease and fungus from spreading on the lawn.

7.  If your lawn turns brown a day or so after mowing, this means that you cut your grass to short.  If could also mean that your lawn mowers blades are dull and they need to be sharpened in order to give your grass a cleaner cut.

8.  As a general rule, bag your clipping in the spring or fall when weeds are active and producing seeds.  This will minimize the seed pods from spreading and re-germinating on the lawn.

9.  Mulch your lawn during the summer months to help protect the rootzone from the constant heat of the day.  This will help protect the crown as well as the stolons during long periods of drought.

10.  Regularly maintain your mower when not is use.  Change the oil in the fall.  Use fresh gas that hasn't been sitting around the garage.  Change your spark plugs to guarantee a fresh start.  And every two years depending on the use of your mower change the air filter to help keep the mower engine components running smoothly.