Honoring Freedom At Home

Southland Sod Farms

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day from 1868-to 1970, is when the fallen military are typically honored at cemeteries and memorials all across the county.  If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the Arlington National Cemetery or closer yet, the Los Angeles National Cemetery (which was established in1889. It rests next to the Federal Building on Sepulveda Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard off the 405 freeway in Los Angeles) you’ll notice the grounds have well-trimmed bushes, pruned trees and are nicely groomed with lush green turf respecting the purpose of the premises and the family members that visit.

There’s a reason why America is the most amazing place to live.  We know how to celebrate life and it needs to be reflected in our yards.  NASA once mapped all the lawns in the US and found that America devotes more land to turf than any other plant.  Though Memorial Day (and its cousins Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day)  are somber in reflection it’s also a celebration of life! It also kicks off summer with lawn parties galore. A well-maintained turf is an honor to the fallen that have given us the right to live in the land of the free.  Today we’ll take a look at what we need to do to our home lawns to pay tribute to those that gave their lives so we can live in such a beautiful country and actually own that property.

Care for the Country, Care for the Lawn

Sounds like a stretch?  I don’t think so.  We are caring people.  When someone or someplace is in trouble we normally step up to the plate to help out.  Our properties are a reflection of who we are as individuals.  Think about it for a moment.  What do you think when you see a lawn that’s been ignored: knee-high weeds, untrimmed edges, dead spots – it’s a mess, isn’t it?  Who lives there?  Is this your lawn?  If so, there’s always time to turn that around.


Pros Step Up:  There are several landscapers across the country that will stop at an overgrown landscape, knock on the door and ask to mow the lawn and trim the bushes for FREE.  They do this one time service for Vets, working military and those in need to get them started with pride of ownership and clean up the neighborhood. Normally this leg up gets promises that they’ll never let their yard get out of hand again.  Kudos to the pros!


Plan of Action

Assess how long the lawn is.  Turf over 5” tall is going to need a special lawnmower called a High Wheel Mower (aka Weed Mower).  You’re not going to want to buy one of these monsters as they aren’t designed to give you that even manicured cut you’d find in a regular rotary or reel mower.  This is definitely something you rent.  You see, a typical rotary lawnmower has its cutting blade attached to the crankshaft.  When you push the mower into tall grass it will bog down and choke out.  Sometimes it’ll even bend the crankshaft and that means a new engine.  A weed mower is a bit different.  It’s distinctive because it has two large bicycle-style sized wheels in the back and the deck is in front of the engine.  A fan belt connects the blade to the crankshaft.  The idea is to push the handles down, the large wheels will raise the deck high then it’ll take a bite out of the tall grass.   The worst that happens is the belt slips on special pulleys if the grass is too high and it stops the blade without the motor getting damaged.   These mowers don’t bag the debris.  After raking up the mess you can come back with your regular mower to evenly cut the grass for a finished look.

Right of Passage

Did you know that giving a youngster the opportunity to mow the lawn is a rite-of-passage?  When a kid see’s someone cutting the lawn they view it as a grown up activity.  Allowing them to mow, usually at 12 or 13 years old, instills responsibility and they feel grown up.  Just make certain you’re around to help them out the first few times then let them have at it if you feel they are paying attention to safety precautions.


Pro Tip:  Teach the kids lawnmower safety such as: how to fill the gas tank and not spill it on the deck, fill up the gas and start it on a hard solid surface like a sidewalk or driveway, keep your hands and feet away from the deck when the engine is on, teach them how to check the oil.  And, most importantly have patience with a kid.  Mowing the lawn is a learned art.


Clean Edges

Would you get a haircut without the hairstylist not cleaning up the back of the neck, those hairy ears, and bushy eyebrows?  Edging a lawn is kind of like that.  If you have an edger it can give you crisp edges along walks, driveways, and mow strips.  Weed whips are good around trees and hard-to-reach places.  It’s rare when someone can do the job of an edger with a weed whacker.  It takes a ton of practice but it can be done.


We are in a challenging time when it comes to irrigating our turf.  Certain Cities are forcing consumers to only water their lawns once a week.  Does this mean our established lawns will die?  No.  We just have to get creative.  Here is what you can do:

  1. Install a subsurface irrigation system. Click here to read a blog on what is needed to accomplish this.
  2. Serpentine a soaker hose on the lawn watering day. Much like a subsurface irrigation system you can slowly and deeply water your lawn without any runoff.  You’ll have to move the hose around several times to get the proper soaking of the whole grass.  Then, it’s important to remove the hose as you don’t want it sitting on the grass making an image of the hose.
  3. Use root zone management products. Modern technology is amazing.  Because this isn’t the first drought southern California is experiencing companies have created solutions for managing moisture at the root zone.  Products can be either liquid or granular.  Either way, it’s applied to the lawn and then soaked into the soil.  It’ll hang on to the moisture for a really long time then release it to the roots as it needs it.  There’s even a product that creates droplets of water created from the humidity of turf.

I hope we’ve been able to motivate you to understand that your lawn is a reflection of you, your neighborhood, your City and those that we keep in memory whom allows us to have these things to live in a place we call America!

Nick Federoff
Award-winning radio & TV garden communicator

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