Published: June 17, 2013
Dear readers: How's your lawn making out these days? Many folks are under water restrictions this summer - maybe two or three rotating days a week. For most bluegrass or fescue lawns, that should be enough to get through the season, providing we make some common sense adjustments to our lawn care regimen.
It's important to water at least twice on your scheduled day. Since we have low humidity here - and so don't have to worry about mildew buildup - it's OK to water very early in the morning, say at 2 am. After that round soaks in, another application at, say, 4 a.m., before sunrise is ideal.
Another alternative is to wait until the sun is down and the wind diminishes late in that evening. The point here is to let two good soakings percolate into the roots on each watering day.
- Make sure to raise your lawnmower one or two notches higher than it was last season. Longer grass blades shade the root system and keep the underlying soil cooler. And remember to sharpen the blades on your rotary mower at least twice this summer. It results in a cleaner, less ragged cut and that makes the grass less susceptible to disease.
- It's a good idea to let the clippings remain on the lawn. They are about two-thirds moisture anyway and contain a store of yummy nitrogen, plus they keep the soil cooler.
- Fertilizing is vital to promote a healthy root system and, therefore, a more drought-resistant lawn. My preference is a good organic formation, like dried chicken waste. Also, choose a brand that contains 2 percent to 4 percent iron.
When to fertilize? My friend and gardening author, John Cretti, recommends using a holiday schedule as a convenient reminder to feed the lawn. Easter, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day and Halloween work out nicely to provide five spaced applications over a six-month season.
Dear Ken: My central air just isn't cooling like it used to. Do you think maybe it's a Freon leak? - Jerry
Answer: Could be, but it's more likely dirt. The cooling coils that sit on top of your furnace are often neglected by service technicians. Since cooling is a dehumidification process, water accumulates on the coils, and then makes its way down to the condensate drain. In the meantime, this is an ideal environment in which dust can accumulate. As it does so, the efficiency of the entire A/C system drops like a stone. So, every other time you have the system serviced, make sure the technician looks at the underside of the coils. And don't let them simply squirt some sort of liquid in there. The only way to effectively clean the cooling coils is to slide them out.
Ken Moon is a homebuilder-turned-home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show, "Around the House," is carried on KRDO, AM 1240 and FM 105.5, at 9 a.m. Saturdays. Go to aroundthehouse.com to contact Moon.