Best Practices Mowing

February 28, 2014



1. Mow frequently with sharp blades. If your hopes include a green lawn, the key is frequent cutting, which forces it to grow thick and keep out weeds. Keep mower blades sharp so the grass isn't beat up and made vulnerable to disease.


2. Don't go too short. Golf courses mow low for a tightly trimmed look, but grass cut short responds by growing faster. "The lower you mow, the more herbicides and water you need, and then it becomes an intensive management system," says Pete Landschoot, professor of turf grass science at Penn State University. So how high to cut? That depends largely on your type of grass, but Euel Coats, retired professor of weed science at Mississippi State University, preaches the "one-third rule": Never cut more than a third of the grass' height at a time. If your grass is three inches tall, cut an inch or less. Any deeper and you're "scalping" the plants, which can take two or three mowing cycles to recover.Mowing high forces grass roots to grow deep, says Roch Gaussoin, Extension turf grass specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The deeper the roots, the better it will resist disease and the less water it will require. Your lawnmower's owner's manual will explain how to change the blade height. Banon Specialist recommend a grass blade length of 2-1/2" to 3-1/2" during active seasons.


3. Don't mow a wet lawn. Mowing when the lawn is saturated with water will compact the soil so the roots can't breathe. When that happens, the grass dies and you'll see bald spots in your lawn. For pet owners this can turn into a nightmare, dogs tend to dig where there is dirt, they are able to smell things in the soil that they will want to go after. If you prevent balding in your turf you are less likely to have holes where your pet has decided to look for buried treasure. Thick healthy turf grasses mask most scents that your dog(s) will be attracted to. Deeper roots hold your loam layer so when your pets go outside to relieve themselves their urine soaks through the top soils easier and more evenly preventing pooling in the soil. Concentraded amounts can cause "burn" spots from the urea in their urine, and once heated by summer temperatures can turn into ammonia further destroying turf grasses preventing any viable recovery.


4. Mulch clippings into the lawn. Leave the clippings where they fall. Not only do you eliminate all the bagging and dump trips, but the clippings fertilize the soil. If you're cuttingoften, the clippings are short and few and work their way back into the soil without becoming brown and messy. That being said, if you aren't able to mow frequently enough to keep the size of your grass clipping to a small and managable size, you will want to remove the clippings to prevent excess material from building up. If you mow and the clippings are half the length of your grass or more your doing it wrong, make sure you don't leave this overwhelming amount of dead material laying in your turf. These clippings cause problems such as lawn disease, trapping moisture on top of the soil preventing proper watering of turf grasses and providing shelter for insect life such as sod web worm and other living creatures.

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