Four common myths about lawn care

By: Fredricka Bogardus Colorado Master Gardener
April 26, 2014

Myths are all too common in the world of gardening. Here are four popular ones that need to be dispelled.

Myth No. 1 - You should apply lime to your lawn every spring.

Explanation: Lime is applied to lawns when the soil is too acidic to support turf growth. While this is a common problem in the East, it is almost never true in Colorado. Our soils tend to be neutral to alkaline so adding lime can cause harm.

Truth: If you are uncertain about the soil quality under your turf, or if you are planting or renovating a lawn, get the soil analyzed by Colorado State University. That will offer more insight into what products you should apply to your turf.

Myth No. 2 - If you cut the flowers off your dandelions, you won't have dandelions the next year.

Explanation: This assumes that because dandelions produce so much seed, they must be annuals. Dandelions are perennials so they reproduce from seed and also regrow from the roots in the ground. Even if you prevent your dandelions from going to seed, seed can blow in from a neighbor's yard.

Truth: Controlling weeds, especially dandelions, requires a multiprong approach. Most important is to get your grass thick and healthy. Also be sure to get the flowers off the plants before they go to seed. When you need to work out some anger, get out on the lawn with a long screwdriver and pull those offenders out.

You can consider applications of pre-emergent herbicides in the spring that will prevent last year's seed from germinating. Systemic herbicides are best applied in the fall.

Myth No. 3 - Leaving grass clippings on the lawn causes thatch.

Explanation: Lawn clipping are composed primarily of water, and they break down quickly. Thatch is related more to grass species (rye, Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue can be thatch formers) and compacted soils.

By leaving your grass clippings on the lawn, you are recycling the lawn care products you use to manage your lawn. You can reduce fertilizer requirements by 25 percent by leaving the clippings on your yard.

Truth: Core aeration at least once a year is a better treatment for thatch buildup. It is the only effective way to address soil compaction under turf.

Myth No. 4 - Cutting your grass short will make it healthier.

Explanation: Grass is stressed by cutting it too short. Scalped lawns also will lose moisture through evaporative loss.

Truth: Grass should be kept no shorter than 2? inches - 3 inches is even better. You should avoid ever cutting more than 1/3 of the blade length off in one mowing.

Where to get more info: For the lowdown on lawn care, check out Colorado State University's fact sheet 7.202 ( Garden/07202.html).


Get answers to your horticulture questions by calling a Master Gardener volunteer from Colorado State University Extension at 520-7684 or emailing

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