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Give Your Lawn the Stadium Look by Crisscross Mowing
If the homeowner in you is envious of the patterned turf at Turner Field, why not give your own lawn the patterned look?

University of Georgia scientists say it's easy. Just mow your lawn in a crisscross pattern rather than in standard rows.

"Crisscross mowing is a fad that really took off after the World Cup Soccer Championships in the United States," said Gil Landry, a turf management scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"People saw the patterned turf on television while watching the soccer games," he said. "And now you see patterned turf everywhere -- on baseball fields, football fields and golf courses."

Aside from the aesthetically pleasing look, Landry said, crisscross mowing will prevent lawn mower tracks on your lawn.

"Proper mowing involves mowing in different directions to prevent compaction from mowing in the same tracks every time," he said.

Mowing lawns is a task most homeowners do often. But few do it right.

"Proper mowing has a significant effect on the appearance and performance of your turf," Landry said. "The most important rule is to mow often enough to remove no more than one-third of the grass's leaves. If you remove more than that, you'll slow the plant's growth and vigor."

Landry said most people mow on a schedule of once a week or once every 10 days. But they should base their mowing on the lawn's conditions.

"In drier periods, grass will grow less. And in wetter times, it will grow more," he said. "Also, if you fertilize, your grass will grow faster and you'll have to mow more often."

If you like your grass to be two inches high, mow when it's three inches high. "Don't wait until it has grown to four inches," Landry said. "This cuts off too much of the plant's leaf, which is its source of food."

Mowing too often can also bring unwanted guests into your lawn. "If your grass is stressed, it can't compete well against weeds," he said. "Grass cut too short opens the canopy, which promotes weed growth."

Landry said another key to a well-manicured lawn is a sharp mower blade. "A sharp blade produces an even cut and a better look," he said. "A dull blade will shred the leaf tips and results in 20 percent more fuel costs because the dull mower blade is less efficient."

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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