“As landscape professionals, we are on a constant quest to create that picturesque and sustainable lawn. Juggling the expected (events and deadlines) with the unexpected (weather, staffing, pests) is simply our way of life. As property foreman for Martha Stewart’s residential farm, I don’t just work for Martha, I often work with her.
“People are often surprised as to how hands-on Martha Stewart is on her farm; she works the land and gets her hands dirty. Of course, she’s also juggling a full schedule of appearances and media events, so that’s where I come in, to help keep everything running,” says Chhiring Sherpa, property foreman. “Martha and I work side-by-side to maintain her farm—it’s a 152-acre constant work-in-progress.”
Stewart’s Bedford, NY farm spans varying terrain, from the well-manicured to undeveloped meadows and woodlands. It includes horse paddocks, a fruit orchard, gardens, and the infamous soccer lawn for her grandson that doubles as a “party lawn” for social gatherings. A fleet of four orange mowers and a Kubota M Series tractor stay busy year-round.
“We have been using Kubota zero-turn mowers for 15 years on my farm—the reliability and durability is second to none for homeowners and professionals looking for a sleek, comfortable ride and professional results,” Stewart says. “Plus, they are easy and fun to operate.”
The approach at the farm is simply to schedule everything, then “roll with it” when changes, events, and Martha herself, want to shake things up. Sherpa took us through his general operating procedures at the farm:
- Calendar Everything. Schedule everything, not only big events but even details like equipment maintenance and lawn feedings. Once a week it’s important to conduct a thorough review of all equipment, checking fluids, blades, and testing for any vibrations—these checks are critical for keeping big repair surprises at bay.
- Invest In Quality. Invest in a quality mower, whether it be a ride-on, walk behind, or zero-turn. Quality equipment will have a direct impact on the time it takes to manage your lawn and will contribute to the overall turf health.
- Cut Less, More Often. Schedule mowing frequently enough so that you don’t remove more than 1/3 of grass blades. Cutting too little will not achieve the right look. Cutting too much will damage grass and can cause browning and loss. Not only does this achieve the optimum look, but grass cut to the proper height thrives in a wider range of weather.
- Nourish Seasonally. A seasonal feeding program for lawns considers the pH balance, temperature, and weather. Martha’s farm relies heavily on natural practices to restore and strengthen—no herbicides or pesticides—so understanding the “when and how” to work the land is imperative. We aerate and over seed in late summer and early fall to prepare for new growth. This helps maintain a healthy lawn and repairs bare spots over time.
- Catch That Grass. Lawn clippings are our secret weapon to maintain healthy turf, and doubles as a treat for the chickens. Outfitting mowers with a grass catcher and then composting the grass clippings keeps the lawn tidy and creates a healthy compost to use in the lawn and garden.
“From busy celebrity calendars and prepping the property for high-profile events, to mower maintenance and lawn seeding schedules, a turf professional’s life is always changing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
~ Contributed by Kubota Tractor Corporation
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