Historians believe the word lawn comes from the Celtic “lan/llan/laun,” which means enclosure. It is thought that lawns began as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements. Before lawn mowers were invented – or mowing machines, as they were first called – lawns were cut by scything and shearing, much as grazing pastures are sometimes cut today. This method was so labor intensive that only the very rich could afford to maintain lawns.
Today, in neighborhoods across the country, mowing the lawn has become a weekend ritual, whether the lawns need cutting or not. In fact, during the spring growth period, lawns may require twice-a-week mowing. In hot summers, allowing the grass to grow a bit higher provides some shade to hot soil, which protects the roots. Mowing the lawn to a shorter height during the rainy season allows the soil to dry more easily.
Different types of grasses need to be cut at different heights. Bermuda needs to be cut short, to about 1 inch. Ryegrass and bluegrass generally should be allowed to grow to 2 inches. Fescue does best at 3 inches. A lawn with a heavy thatch requires more watering than other types of lawns. Using a lawn aerator can help deliver both water and fertilizer more efficiently.
Lawn care also includes fertilizing at least twice a year. Underfed lawns allow weeds to spread and make lawns more susceptible to diseases. Fertilizers with a controlled-release formula are most often recommended. Using an applicator helps ensure that fertilizer is distributed evenly. Fertilizing once in the fall will nourish the root system, and will store nutrients for spring growth. An additional feeding at the height of the growing season helps to promote healthy and continuous growth.