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Mow Right! Improving IPM adoption in home lawn care via a simple mowing message 2008

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Project Leaders: L. Bushway, Senior Extension Associate, Department of Horticulture; J. Grant, Assistant Director and Community IPM Coordinator, NYS IPM Program

Cooperators: Cornell Turfgrass Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension Community Horticulture Program Work Team, ; D. Chinery, Rensselaer County Cornell Cooperative Extension

Abstract: In NYS 82% of our three million acres of turfgrass are lawns maintained by homeowners. We work with our cooperators to conduct a survey to enhance our understanding of current lawn mowing practices.  We collected nearly 1,700 survey responses from lawn owners representing all 62 NYS counties. Well over two thirds of these lawn owners were raising their mower blade to a reasonable height but only less than a half  were waiting for their grass to reach over 4 inches and not even one quarter were sharpening their mower blade more than once per season. In response to this information we initiated a simple message campaign with a press release that emphasized the benefits of sharpening your mower blade regularly. To further promote proper mowing practices as the best long-term, low-toxicity solution to weed problems in lawns we recruited more than 30 Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and volunteers to participants in two separate 6 hour workshops that built their confidence and skill in diagnosing lawn care issues and providing recommendations for home owners. Feedback from these workshops was overwhelmingly positive.