Tahlequah Daily Press

May 17, 2013

Lawns will need extra TLC this season

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Summer is almost here, and before the mercury hovers at the century mark, local residents are working to get the lawns in shape.

Lawns have taken a beating the past two summers, as the area has experienced record-setting heat waves. According to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Educator Roger Williams, this spring, fertilizing lawns will be key.

“Fertilizing needs to be done now,” said Williams. “A lot of yards are thinned out because of the past two summers we’ve had, and Bermuda grass roots really took a beating. Considering we’ve had a cool April and May, a lot of cool-season weeds are outpacing the grown of the Bermuda.”

William recommends having soil tests completed to make sure homeowners get the balance right when purchasing fertilizer. He also pointed out that mower wheels could be set a little higher this spring.

“Generally speaking, the ideal mower setting for Bermuda grass is low, to keep it short and control weeds,” said Williams. “But with the Bermuda needing to replenish its root reserves from the hot summers we’ve had, I’ll tell people they may want to set the wheels a little higher early in the year, more so than usual. They can control weeds by spot spraying with RoundUp. You’ll use a little more water caring for the lawn this way, but it will help the Bermuda grass in the long run.”

Tahlequah Lumber is a one-stop shop for people looking for lawnmowers, and Assistant Manager Dave Whittmore said a standard push mower is usually adequate for most lawns in town.

“The main brand we carry is Husqvarna,” said Whittmore. “The differences between the push mowers are the size wheels in the back, and some come with mulching bags that saves a person having to rake the yard after mowing. Another feature the push mowers can have is a self-propelled or ‘auto-walk’ option, which cuts down on the labor of actually pushing.”

For people who own an acre or more, Whittmore recommends investing in a lawn tractor.

“The popular features on these are varying sizes of engines and different cutting widths,” said Whittmore. “Cutting widths range from 26 inches to 26 inches. While they don’t come standard, mulching kits can be ordered to add to some of the lawn tractors, too.”

All mowing machines offered at Tahlequah Lumber are powered by gasoline.

“Electric lawnmowers are pretty much non-existent anymore,” said Whittmore. “You can still get electric weed trimmers, though.”

Consumers purchasing a lawnmower at Tahlequah Lumber will also have the benefit of “gas and go.”

“Once they’ve bought the mower, which comes pre-assembled, we take it over to our rental section, put gas in it and start it to make sure it’s operating properly,” said Whittmore.

Cherokee County has received four solid months of above-average rainfall, according to Williams.

“But if we continue to get these hot, dry winds like we had Tuesday, along with higher temperatures, and watering is going to become a necessity for a green lawn,” said Williams. “Generally, lawns need about an inch of water per week to maintain them. If we’re not getting an inch of rain a week, you may need to set up the sprinklers. But I say it again: These yards are going to need the right kind and right amount of fertilizer every three weeks to a month to get them going.”

“If there’s very little active ingredient, it may not do you much good,” said Williams.

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