April is National Lawn Care Month, and to help celebrate the time-honored tradition of lawn ownership we thought it appropriate to highlight one of our most inspiring customers: Jimmy Lewis. Lawns play an important role as the “carpet” of our landscapes; creating the central open space where families play and pets frolic. And there aren’t too many folks out there maintaining their lawn better, or more enthusiastically, than Jimmy.
Jimmy runs the website JimmyLewisMows.com as well as a YouTube and other social media channels. I was lucky enough to interview Jimmy and talk about his passion for lawn care.
Nature’s Seed: Can you give us a little background on how you got interested in lawns and lawncare?
Jimmy: We bought our home in 2014. It was new construction at the time, and back then having a lawn wasn’t even on my radar. My wife really wanted to put in a lawn as soon as possible, and before long we had irrigation installed and we purchased and planted our seed. After it grew in I knew I needed to start working with it - mowing, watering, fertilizing. Problem was, I didn’t even know where to start. I found myself on YouTube learning as much as I could, and applying what I learned to the best of my ability. Once I started seeing results from implementing what I was learning, I was hooked. There’s something about being able to look at something you’ve worked hard on, and knowing it looks the way it does because of your efforts. It’s addicting.
From there, I started looking for ways to document what I was learning and how the lawn was doing throughout the year. I started with pictures, and then started making videos and putting them on YouTube. Now I enjoy being a part of a global community, and I have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and am learning with people all the time. Helping others learn and giving back to the community that way is really rewarding for me.
Nature’s Seed: What Nature’s Seed products do you use and why?
Jimmy: My lawn is Nature’s Seed Blue Ribbon blend. It’s the only seed I’ve used since initially planting, with a few over-seeding events since the initial grow-in. I prefer seed over sod because you can pretty much get what you want that’s going to work best for you, and you can see exactly what you’re getting in each bag of seed because it’s documented right on the label. I’ve been really happy with this blend. It has a beautiful color, it’s resilient and versatile - it looks good at both short and tall heights of cut (my front yard is cut around 1 inch, backyard around 2.5 inches), and it’s pretty easy to work with.
Nature’s Seed: You live in Utah which is the second driest state in the nation, and the West is facing another year of historic drought. What do you do to maximize water efficiency?
Jimmy: Water conservation is important, whether you live in the drought-stricken western part of the country or not. Having an understanding of how to properly water the lawn is key. I’m able to keep the lawn green during the summer with one inch of water per week, split up between two watering sessions 3-4 days apart. I also have a smart sprinkler controller that has a cycle-soak feature to avoid runoff when watering, and it will automatically skip watering sessions when we are lucky enough to get a decent rain during the growing season.
Because everyone has different sprinkler types and configurations, you have to take some time to figure out how long it takes your irrigation system to apply 1/2 inch of water in each of your zones. I spread out a few empty chicken cans across each zone, run my sprinklers for a full cycle, and then stick a tape measure in the can afterward. From there, I can tell whether a zone is being over or under-watered and adjust my controller settings.
Lawns also do better when they are fed well. I use fertilizer products that are rich in potassium, especially leading up to the hot summer months. Potassium helps the grass plant with moisture uptake and retention and improves the plants ability to tolerate different forms of stress.
Finally, during the peak summer months I apply a moisture managing product each month where high temps are above 85 degrees. The product I use literally saves me from needing a third watering session during the week, which given the watering restrictions I was working with last year, and will likely be dealing with again this year, I wasn’t allowed to water more than twice each week. Products like that are a staple in my strategy.
Nature’s Seed: Do you have any tips for the average homeowner who wants to improve their lawn but doesn’t know where to start?
Jimmy: Start with the basics - mowing, watering, and fertilizing.
Find time to mow your lawn often. If you’re not mowing once a week, get in the habit of mowing weekly. Once you’re in the habit, or if you’re already in the habit of mowing weekly, find one night during the week to mow again. The more you mow your lawn, the healthier it will grow. Check your lawn mower’s blade every month or so and sharpen it if needed. If after you mow you find that the tips of the grass blades are frayed, your blade needs to be sharpened. Sharpening your blade is something you can do yourself. There are tons of videos online that will show you several different ways to do it. I personally recommend an angle grinder with a 40-grit flap disc. It’s quick and easy.
Water properly. Use the chicken can strategy to dial in your sprinkler system (if you have one) to put down 1/2” of water each time you water, and set that schedule to run twice weekly, 3-4 days apart.
Don’t be afraid of fertilizer. Invest in a good quality spreader and be patient with learning to spread fertilizer on your lawn. Start with a modest setting and adjust from there. Focus on making an even application, water it in, and wait on the results. Over the course of the growing season you’ll progressively build your confidence and the fear turns into fun.
Nature’s Seed: In your opinion, what’s the biggest gimmick in lawncare?
Jimmy: Two things come to mind, especially after building an audience online. First, there are a lot of people out there who think that lawn care as a hobby is weird. And what’s more, not only is it my hobby, I’m outside working on the lawn with a couple of cameras working on my next video for my YouTube channel. While I’ll admit that part of it is a bit weird, it’s not fair to think of someone’s hobby as strange. Everyone needs an outlet. Somewhere they can go to get away from the everyday grind. I find that outside in my yard. I look forward to the work. Being able to mow the lawn is a way for me to get in the zone, clear my head, and be with my thoughts for a while. For me, it’s not weird or crazy, it’s therapy.
Second, people think there is only one way that’s best practice when it comes to lawn care, and that’s their way. If you don’t do something the way they would do it, you’re doing it wrong. That’s simply not true. Grass is resilient. There are lots of different strategies for doing things with your lawn that can prove successful. Find what works for you and what is comfortable to you.
Nature’s Seed: What weed do you hate the most?
Jimmy: Dandelion. They are resilient and easily spread with those puffballs of seeds the kids like to blow away with their wishes. Thankfully they can be easily controlled.
Nature’s Seed: What’s your favorite lawn game?
Jimmy: Golf. Keeping my lawn short in the front yard (around 1 inch) I’m able to chip golf balls across the yard. The kids like to do that, too. I’m also in the process of building a putting green in the backyard, so I’m looking forward to chipping and putting on that once it’s ready to go. I also enjoy spending time at the local courses, admiring the grass and enjoying the game. I learn a lot about lawn care from golf courses and the people who work tirelessly to maintain them.