Most lawns are cut too short. Maintaining lawns at a taller height promotes a strong root system and helps choke out weeds. Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden
Use a mulching mower that leaves grass clippings on the lawn. This means less work for you while it recycles those extra nutrients back to your lawn.
Regardless of which mower you choose, be sure to mow more frequently during spring because of rapid grass growth. Mulching mowers, in particular, do not work well in tall, wet grass. Rake out any wet clumps of grass that remain on the lawn.
Keep the blades on your mower sharpened for a better cut. A good general rule to follow is to sharpen them after every eight hours of use.
Mow grass to 2½ to 3 inches in height, and frequently enough so that not more than one-third of the total height is cut each time. I used a lower setting for my first couple of cuts this spring in order to neaten up the lawn as it just started to grow.
Most lawns are cut too short. Maintaining lawns at a taller height promotes a strong root system and helps choke out weeds. In hot weather, short lawns can turn brown more quickly and weeds are more likely to move in.
• Gently prune back any unshapely growth on your shrubs to improve their appearance and encourage the development of a fuller plant.
• Tomatoes and peppers are considered warm-season crops because they need warm soil and frost-free nights. It still is on the early side to plant tomatoes and peppers unless you are planning to cover them during cold periods.
Many gardeners do well planting tomatoes and peppers around Memorial Day. If these vegetables are planted too early, cold spells and cold soil can set them back.
• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.