ST. CLOUD - Whether you see mowing your lawn as a chore that has to be done or a relaxing way to wind down after a long week at the office there are some tips you should take into consideration this season. If the weather and your individual lawn conditions allow for it, mowing may begin during the last week in April. If your lawn is still too wet, or not yet greened up, hold off until conditions are right.

Before your first mowing be sure to check over your lawn mower. Change the oil and fuel. Clean out the air filter. Sharpen and adjust the blades. Sharp blades will ensure clean cuts on your blades of grass. A cleanly cut blade of grass is less susceptible to disease and is able to better conserve water.

A recent trend in lawn mowers is that they are equipped with baggers. These baggers take the clippings from your lawn and then are usually disposed of or added to a compost pile. Lawn clippings are actually extremely valuable to a lawn. Decomposed clippings add the equivalent of one fertilizer application to your lawn each year. Decomposed clippings also improve soil quality and minimize runoff and help improve carbon sequestration. If your clippings are too long you can mulch them by mowing over them several times. If you choose to remove your clippings and have applied an herbicide to your lawn do not use the clippings as mulch for other plants or add them to a compost pile.

When setting your blade height be sure that it is 3 inches or higher. Taller grass will help to shade out the weed seeds and maintain a lower soil temperature. A taller grass on top of soil also means a deeper root system which allows your grass to reach more nutrients in your soil. During the mid-summer, when temperatures increase, raise your mowing height by one inch. Change your mowing pattern frequently to promote upright shoot growth. If possible, mow at right angles every other time you mow.

Mowing is the most time-consuming part of keeping a lawn, but if done properly will lead to a healthy, vigorous lawn. For more information on lawn care you can visit the University of Minnesota Extension website and look under lawn and garden. If you have specific questions about your lawn please contact your location Extension Educator. Residents in Stearns, Benton and Morrison County can call 320-255-6169 ext. 1.