Honda HRX Lawnmower Press Kit - Basics of Lawn Care and Mowing - Part 2

NEW LAWNS

19. How will I know what type of fertilizers to use and when to use them?

This is a very complex question, since there are so many variables involved. The type of grass, the region of the country, the level of management, soil characteristics, etc., all play an important role. The ideal thing to do is contact the local county extension office for a recommendation for your specific situation. Most extension information is now available on the web and can be easily accessed.

20. Should I get my soil tested?

Yes, it is a good idea to test soil every two years. Annual testing is not usually necessary.

21. How do I know if my soil needs to be amended with organic material?

In most cases it is not economically feasible or necessary to amend a turfgrass soil with organic matter other than its own mulched clippings. Once a turfgrass is established, it will provide organic matter to the soil through the normal growth process (new tissue replaces old and dying tissue).

Honda Note:

The Honda HRX, used in the mulching mode, will nourish the soil by returning finely cut clippings from the mowed turfgrass. The fine pieces fall easily to the soil surface where they can be rapidly broken down by soil microorganisms, which release nutrients from the mulched plant material back into the soil. This type of organic enhancement enhances the health and growth of the turf by reducing evaporation of moisture from the lawn and keeping soil temperature cooler.

22. What are the growing zones?

a). How does it determine my choice of grass for my lawn?

b). How can I find out which zone I live in?

There are well-established growing zones for different plants as well as turfgrasses, and many gardening books and Web sites provide copies of the growing zone map. It is a simple matter to look at the map and see what turfgrasses are recommended for a particular zone.

23. What are the pros and cons of laying sod versus sowing grass seed?

Sod provides instant lawn. The primary disadvantage of sod is cost. Also, there are some bunch type turfgrasses that are not available as sod. In addition, there is a limited number of species and varieties available as sod. Seed is inexpensive, but the length of time needed for obtaining an established lawn can be extensive for some turfgrasses. One advantage of seed is the greater selection of species and varieties.

24. What type of grass should I grow?

There are several factors to consider when selecting a turfgrass variety for a particular site. They include:

a. Use of the area: for example, is it a high traffic or low traffic area?

b. Maintenance requirements: certain turfgrasses require more maintenance and a greater budget than others, as well as a greater level of expertise.

c. Environmental conditions: does the site call for a cool season or warm season turfgrass? What is the annual rainfall? Will irrigation be necessary? Is the site shaded or in full sun?

d. Soil factors: what is the pH of the soil? Is it a fertile soil or will it require considerable supplemental fertilization? Does it have good moisture holding capacity?

e. Expected level of quality: if a high level of quality is expected, certain turfgrasses should not be considered.

These are some of the primary factors that should be considered.

25. Can I mix grass types if growing conditions vary in different parts of the lawn?

As a rule, only cool season turfgrasses are mixed. Warm season turfgrasses are rarely deliberately mixed. This is because of the vast differences in growth rate and appearance among warm season turfgrasses.

It is often a good practice to mix cool season turfgrasses or blend varieties of a single cool season species. This will allow the mixture or blend to adapt to a wider range of soil and environmental conditions within the site.

26. How long should the grass be when I do the first mowing?

The one third rule still applies. If the lawn is to be maintained at 2 inches, then it should be first mowed when it reaches 3 inches.

27. How do I start over with new grass if my lawn is a mess? What is the best way to accomplish this?

There are two possibilities. Complete renovation involves removing the old grass and starting over; partial renovation is trying to thicken up and improve the existing stand of grass. The general rule is if there is less than 50 percent of the desirable turfgrass present, it probably is best to start over and do a complete renovation. If there is 50 percent or more of the desirable turfgrass present, then partial renovation may be sufficient.

MOWER MAINTENANCE

28. What routine maintenance should I do weekly, before and after mowing?

Maintenance requirements will vary by model. The owner's manual provides a maintenance schedule. In general, the engine oil, a/c, blades, and grass bag should be checked before each use.

29. Maintaining my lawn mower is important to keep the equipment in excellent running order, but does it also affect lawn health in any way?

Definitely. A sharp blade is extremely important (see my earlier comments). Gasoline and oil leaks will severely damage turfgrass.

30. What are the signs of a worn mower blade?

A worn or dull mower blade will tend to shred the grass leaf rather than cutting it cleanly. The result is a jagged tip that turns brown rapidly. This, in turn, gives the entire lawn a brownish or tan appearance for several days. The turfgrass might actually appear to be diseased or stressed, but the green color will gradually be restored as the grass leaves grow.

The jagged tips produced by a worn mower blade are also open wounds for the invasion of diseased organisms. A worn or poorly balanced mower blade also may cause unnecessary wear on the engine as well as excessive vibration to the entire mower. This excessive vibration can cause abnormal stresses to lawnmower components (deck, handle, Roto-Stop) resulting in failure or rapid wear.

31. Can I use my old lawn mower to mulch the clippings by just removing the bag?

Mowers having a side discharge allow the safe removal of the bag. However, this will not necessarily engage a mulching action by the mower.

A true mulching mower is carefully engineered to cut clippings into small particles and distribute them properly into the turf. Efficient mulching won't be achieved on most lawnmowers by simply removing the bag.

FOR NEWBIES

32. How fast does grass grow?

Of course, this depends on many factors: the type of turfgrass, the amount and type of fertilizer applied, how much or how little the grass is watered, soil type, sun or shade, etc. There are significant differences in growth rates among turfgrasses. There are some Bermudagrasses that can grow an inch or more in a single day. In fact, there is a report of a Bermudagrass used for forage that grows up to 4 inches in one day! On the other extreme, zoysiagrass has an extremely slow growth rate that might not even exceed an inch in a week. There are grasses with growth rates between these two extremes.

33. How often should I mow?

As mentioned earlier, no more than one third of the leaf blade should be removed at one mowing. In other words, when the grass reaches 50 percent higher than the desired height, it should be mowed. A lawn maintained at 2 inches, should be mowed when it reaches a three inch height.

34. Can I mow and bag leaves in the Fall instead of raking them?

Yes, this can be done, and shredding the leaves significantly reduces their volume for composting or disposal.

Honda Note:

This is one of the strong features of the Honda HRX. Because of its Versamow variable mowing system, the HRX is the first "4-in-1 in the box" - a lawnmower that can shred leaves, mulch, bag and discharge with the mere rotation of a lever called the Clip Director, and without the purchase of any additional parts.

35. How dry must the grass be when I mow it?

As dry as possible. If the grass is wet, it won't mulch properly and the clippings will tend to clump together or stick to the mower deck. It is a good idea to let the dew evaporate before mowing. You should be able to pass your hand over the surface of the grass and not detect free moisture.

36. What should I do differently if I must mow wet grass?

Move slowly across the lawn. To reduce the volume of clippings that might cause the mower to bog down, it may be necessary to raise the cutting height. It also may be necessary to turn the mower over and scrape off the packed-on clippings that accumulate under the mower deck housing. Finally, it may be necessary to rake the lawn afterwards, since wet clippings typically do not discharge or mulch normally.

37. What does "going to seed" mean?

This means not mowing the grass and allowing it to go to seed. Some homeowners believe they can thicken up their lawn by not mowing and allowing the grass to form seed. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. By allowing the turfgrass to form seed, nutrients normally used for shoot and root growth are diverted to nourish the developing seed. Developing seed always has priority over shoots and roots for nutrients. Also, there is little chance that the seed formed will fall to the unprepared ground, germinate and grow through the existing grass to a mature plant.

38. What is mulch?

Usually it is thought of as leaves, straw, peat moss, etc. spread on the ground around plants or over a newly seeded turf area to prevent evaporation of water and erosion of soil.

In the case of mulching mowers, mulch consists of the grass clippings that are cut into fine pieces and allowed to fall to the soil surface. There, soil microorganisms can rapidly break down the plant tissue and release nutrients to the soil. If possible, clippings should be mulched every time the turf is mowed. Exceptions to this would be when mulched clippings interfere with the use or appearance of the area or when the grass is unusually high and/or wet. Under these conditions it will probably be necessary to bag or rake the turf area after mowing.

Honda Note:

The mulching capacity is a strong point of the Honda HRX: it can switch from bagging to mulching, or any combination of the two, with a mere rotation of a lever called the Clip Director. Because the HRX produces such finely cut particles of mowed grass, it allows the mulched clippings to fall and decompose quickly while maintaining the manicured look that homeowners -- and their neighbors -- desire.

39. What is thatch?

Thatch is an intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots of grasses that develops between the turf canopy of green vegetation and the soil surface. Contrary to popular belief, mulched grass clippings do not significantly contribute to thatch.

40. What is proper mower maintenance?

a). At the beginning of the season.

b) After each mowing

c) At the end of the season

d) All of the above

D is correct. In general:

The mower must be carefully inspected at the beginning of the season. Depending on the usage, cables may need adjustment, the blade may need to be replaced and engine oil changed. The blade and oil should be checked before or after each mowing. At the end of the season, the mower must be prepared for storage as detailed in the consumer manual.

What does it take to achieve a luscious, green, manicured lawn? There are many supplemental practices that could be included, but if the ten listed below are followed religiously, the odds of having a "luscious" lawn are extremely good.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR MAINTAINING A LUSCIOUS LAWN

1. Always select the most adapted turfgrass for the area.

2. Maintain the lawn at the recommended mowing height for the turfgrass being used.

3. Avoid removing more than one third of the top growth at any one mowing.

4. Always use a sharp mower blade.

5. Do not bag grass clippings unless they interfere with the appearance or use of the area.

6. Soil test periodically and keep all nutrients within the recommended levels.

7. Apply nitrogen fertilizer judiciously, being careful to stay within the recommended amounts for turfgrass being used.

8. Irrigate in the morning and apply enough water to moisten the soil one inch below the root system. Avoid the temptation to over-water.

9. Control weeds as needed.

10. Control insects and diseases as needed.

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