Ask a Master Gardener: Lawn-care tipsSend your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I’ve read that a lawn should get an inch of water a week in hot weather. If I’m watering with a sprinkler, how can I tell whether I’ve put an inch of water on the lawn?
A: One way to tell is to put an empty can with straight sides, such as a tuna can, on the lawn and water until it has an inch in it. Be careful, though, not to overwater. If we’ve already had rain, you need to factor that into your inch. And in the cooler months, an inch every other week should be enough.
Because of the way grass roots grow, it’s better to water less frequently in spring, and to give the lawn shallower, more frequent watering in summer. Don’t water so much that there are puddles in your lawn or the surface is waterlogged. Let the lawn dry out between watering.
Your lawn will tolerate heat and drought better if you set your mower blade to a higher position, leaving the grass 3-3½ inches long.
It’s also a good idea to leave grass clippings on the lawn, if they are less than an inch long, rather than raking them up. The clippings provide shade, so you lose less moisture, and they add nutrients to your lawn, so you won’t need to fertilize as often.
Q: Can I plant onions yet? What kind should I buy?
A: Yes, you can put onions in now. Onions fall into two broad groups: short day and long day. Long day varieties do better in our area. Short day onions will grow here but may not produce large bulbs before our growing season is over. ‘WallaWalla’ is a popular long day variety.
This question has been answered by St. Louis County Master Gardeners, who have been trained by the University of Minnesota as volunteer horticultural educators. Questions can be submitted and more information found at www.extension.umn.edu/garden.