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The Boston Globe

Lifestyle

5 tips for a healthy lawn from Fenway’s go-to guy

Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File 2007

1. Make sure your mower is in good condition. A clean cut makes a difference in how healthy a lawn is. Sharpen the blades every four to six weeks.

2. Never cut more than a third of the grass blades at a time. All too often, people cut their grass too short. A height of 3 to 3½ inches is ideal. The length helps shade the root so it doesn’t dry out. Better too tall than too short.

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I don’t catch grass clippings at my house. At Fenway, I catch them only on the edges. Those clippings will decompose and be an organic fertilizer.

3. The best time to water? Between 2 and 7 a.m. Most people come home from work and water, but you don’t want the grass sitting wet all night. It can get disease and fungus. A good rule of thumb is an inch of water a week. Put out a cup and water for 10 minutes, then you can determine how much you’re watering. Always be sure to follow your community’s water regulations, and make sure your equipment is in good order, that you’re not watering the driveway.

4. Get a soil test from your county extension service or the University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory (soil-test.umass.edu ). The soil test is a good base line for your nutrients, the type of soil you have, and the drainage, among other concerns.

5. People should be smart about water and whatever products they are using. Make sure that your product isn’t being washed into a storm drain or a body of water. Myth: A little is good, so a lot must be better.

It’s important to feed your lawn. [Mellor uses Scotts seed at home and at work.] Healthy-growing grass will choke out weeds. And just because you have a few dandelions, that doesn’t mean you have to treat your whole lawn. It’s all about tolerance. A weed is defined as an undesirable plant out of place. A rosebush in the middle of the field at Fenway would be considered a weed. [Mellor said that when his daughter turned 5, they threw a party and invited her whole kindergarten class. He was talking to one mother when he noticed that a parent from one of the other arriving cars had disappeared. Turns out he was trying to spot a weed on the lawn. The man’s wife was appalled to hear there were several dandelions in one section. Turns out, Mellor’s kids like them: “The kids are happy, I’m happy.”] If you don’t want dandelions, then dig them out with a screwdriver or pour a mix of boiling water and vinegar on them.

6. Enjoy your lawn, which is meant for picnics, throwing Frisbees, playing with your dog, and Wiffle ball games. Have fun with grass patterns. My book “The Lawn Bible ” also covers a lot of turf 101 and some grass-pattern information so people can mow like the majors at home.

A lawn adds to curbside appeal and is the backdrop for beauty. Lawns are all about creating memories.

As told to Eileen McEleney Woods (Interview has been edited and condensed.)
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