Want the best lawn on your block? Get free help from Hillsborough County's Master Gardener

No. 1 lawn mistake? Cutting grass too short

ODESSA, Fla. - In September, the Master Gardener of Hillsborough County gets busy. The question he hears most often:  "Why is my lawn dying?"

"The number one cause of yard failure is cutting the grass too low," says Jim Hawk, whose free lawn and garden wisdom is a popular and free service in late summer and fall. "You should keep it at about 4 inches tall."

Compliments of the University of Florida and the Hillsborough County Extension Service, the free Master Gardener program is available at various public library talks and via a free help line (813)-744-5519 ext 4.

Hawk, one of several Master Gardeners, is also expertly versed in gardens, flowers, trees and house plants.

He notes September is notorious for two big lawn problems. If you are cutting your lawn at a good length and dead patches still appear.

"If you've got a problem in the shade, you're probably looking at a fungus," says Hawk. "If you've got a problem out in the sun, you're looking at chinch bug damage."

Hawk can help with both of those problems. The diagnosis and solution is relatively simple. And if you call him this month, he'll probably tell you this too:

"We're getting plenty of rain, so turn your sprinkler system off," said Hawk. "That's the last thing we need. More water!"

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