How to tend a healthy yard this spring

Protect the water supply, avoid a code violation and keep your community clean by following these healthy lawn tips from the City of Lenexa’s Rain to Recreation program.

Cut the grass the right way

  • Find out the maximum grass height allowed in your city based on your property type. In Lenexa, developed residential properties may not exceed 8 inches. Other properties must keep their grass under 12 inches. On large pieces of land (1 or more acres), Lenexa may make exceptions and only require a perimeter mow. In addition, Lenexa allows stands of native vegetation in lieu of some of your turf grass but this must be approved by the City.
  • You may consider mowing higher and less often, as long as the grass height stays under 8 inches. Cutting your lawn higher (3–4 inches tall) encourages a stronger root system and reduces evaporation.
  • It’s important to not only mow your lawn but to also trim around landscaping, mailboxes, and — most importantly — fire hydrants if you have one in your yard.
  • If you live next to a stream, avoid mowing within 10 to 25 feet from the edge of the stream and keep lawn clippings and leaf piles off the banks. Mowing too close to the edge damages roots that hold soil in places, causing stream banks to erode.
  • Consider mulch mowing instead of bagging your cut grass. Leaving your grass clippings on the lawn will return nitrogen to the soil.
  • Sweep grass clippings off your driveway and sidewalk and away from storm drains. Not only does it look more appealing, it also prevents clogs in the storm drain system and reduces impacts on local waterbodies.

Carefully consider how much fertilizer to use
Harmful algae blooms — like blue-green algae — are unpredictable, difficult to remove and can make lakes and ponds harmful for people and pets who enjoy them in the summer. Algae blooms typically occur in the hot, dry periods of late summer, but you can do your part to prevent them much earlier in the year.

The best way to prevent these blooms is to limit the amount of excess nutrients — the main cause of algae blooms — that enter streams and ponds. The most common source of nutrients in our water is one you’re probably using at home: fertilizer.

  • Get a soil test to find what nutrients your soil needs. This will help you to pick the right fertilizer and avoid using too much fertilizer. All Johnson County households can receive one free soil test per year through the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office. Learn more at Johnson.K-State.edu/lawn-garden.
  • Use phosphorous-free fertilizer. Phosphorous is a significant nutrient pollutant in our water.
  • Landscape with native plants. Their natural ability to thrive in our climate and soil reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizers, watering, pesticides, mowing and maintenance.
  • Make sure you keep fertilizer off pavement. Also, exercise caution when fertilizing on slopes and lawn edges to prevent chemicals from washing into nearby storm drains.
  • Check the weather forecast before you apply fertilizer. Never use lawn chemicals before a heavy rainfall, and allow plenty of time for chemicals to dry.
  • Compost is a great alternative to chemical fertilizers! It also reduces strain on our landfills.

Pick up pet waste
Leaving pet waste on your lawn doesn’t just leave you prone to an embarrassing misstep at a backyard barbecue. Pet waste carries bacteria that are harmful for pets, humans, and our streams.