Mowing is the most timeconsuming lawn maintenance practice, but it is not without its merits. The primary purpose of mowing a lawn is to improve its appearance. Proper mowing technique, equipment, frequency and height will improve the quality of a lawn while also increasing the health of the turfgrass plants and decreasing weeds.
Property owners take great care in watering, fertilizing, weeding and protecting their lawns but few realize that improper mowing practices can undo the care they so diligently show to their lawns. Mowing has an immediate impact on your lawn and by observing proper practices you can ensure you are contributing to the development of a high quality lawn. The two most common mistakes are cutting grass too short and mowing too infrequently. When mowing, you should never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade’s height. By removing more, you can cut into the crown of the blade and damage it. Furthermore, mowing grasses too low leaves limited leaf area for the grass to sustain photosynthesis, which reduces grass vigor. Lawns that are too short also have shallow root systems, which become apparent during summer stress periods: as soil moisture drops, these lawns will begin to die. By leaving the height longer, you keep grass healthy and reduce the number of weeds by providing shade and competition to weed seedlings. If you miss a mowing and your grass is longer than usual, cutting at your regular height is, therefore, detrimental to the grass. You should reset the mower to its highest cutting level and then three or four days later cut again at the normal height. This ensures maximum protection for your lawn.
Knowing when to mow is also important. Mowing during the heat of the day causes undue stress on the lawn and mowing when the grass is wet leaves it susceptible to disease. The best time to mow is in the evening when the sun is less intense and morning moisture has long burned off. You should also vary your mowing patterns. Retracing the same lines every time you mow can harm the grass that is constantly run over. Mowing at right angles to the previous direction will prevent grass from repeatedly being pushed to one side and minimize stress on those areas.
All about Grass
Every grass has an ideal mowing height. It doesn’t matter whether you’re tending cool-season grass in Minnesota or warm-season turf in Phoenix, your particular type of grass has specific height requirements. Maintain your lawn at the ideal height, and you’ll be rewarded with lush, healthy turf that easily fends off weeds, drought and disease.
Forget the lawn-mowing myth that says the shorter you mow grass, the less often you’ll have to cut it. That misguided concept lays a foundation for a problem-prone lawn. Grass that’s cut too short is more susceptible to weed invasion, drought and heat damage.
Let your grass grow too long between cuttings, and you run the risk of creating an ideal habitat for insects like mosquitoes and critters like voles, mice and snakes. Grass that’s too long is also hard to mow, and the extra-long clippings create more work, since they usually need to be raked or bagged.
It’s worth the extra effort to mow a lawn frequently enough to maintain the ideal height. Even during peak growth, you’ll probably only be mowing every five to seven days-at most. Your mowing frequency ultimately depends on your lawn’s ideal height, which varies during the growing season and depends on growing conditions.
Cool-season turf, which includes fescues and Kentucky bluegrass, grows the most during the cool temperatures of spring and fall. While specific heights vary, the typical range for cool-season grasses falls between 1 and 4 inches high.
Warm-season turf includes St. Augustine, Bermuda, centipede and zoysia. These grasses achieve their peak growth when summer hits its stride. Specific mowing heights vary by grass type and can even be different for different types of the same grass. For instance, mowing height for Empire zoysia is 0.75 to 3 inches, while Zenith zoysia thrives when cut to 1.5 inches, and even those ideal heights vary by region.
The general rule of thumb for mowing is never to remove more than one-third of total grass blade length at a single cutting. The easiest way to accomplish this is to discover what your turf’s ideal height should be and allow it to grow one third longer before mowing.
Follow these general guidelines to cut your grass at an ideal mowing height.
Bahia: 2.5 to 4 inches
Bermuda: 0.5 to 2.5 inches
Buffalo: 1.5 to 4 inches
Centipede: 1 to 2.5 inches
Kikuyu grass: 1 to 1.5 inches
St. Augustine: 1 to 3 inches
Zoysia: 0.5 to 3 inches
Fine fescue: 1.5 to 4 inches
Kentucky bluegrass: 0.75 to 3.5 inches
Perennial ryegrass: 0.75 to 2.5 inches
Tall fescue: 1.5 to 4 inches
You’ll have to research seasonal exceptions to these guidelines based on your region. To learn about seasonal height shifts, contact your local county extension office, a reputable garden center or local sod or seed suppliers.
Typical Seasonal Height Variations
- Allow all grasses to grow taller in summer and during drought.
- Mow warm-season turf shorter in spring to remove dead grass blades.
- Mow cool-season grasses shorter for the final fall mowing in snow prone regions to help prevent snow mold.
- Allow grasses growing in shade to grow taller.
Grass article Credits: diynetwork.com
Lawns are water guzzlers. On average, most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week to stay lush and green. That water can come from rainfall or irrigation. How often your lawn needs a drink depends on a host of factors, including things like soil type, sunlight, grass type and regional climate. The list truly goes on and on. In many municipalities, water restrictions are the norm, and lawn watering is high on the list of wasteful water activities. Fine tune your lawn watering skills with these easy irrigation tips.
Choose a hose-end sprinkler for a small-to-medium size lawn area. Check out different types of sprinklers to find the one that suits your lawn shape best. This traditional sprinkler waters in a rectangular pattern. Don’t forget to turn off a manual sprinkler. Set an oven timer to help jog your memory and conserve water. With all lawn watering, deeper, less frequent irrigation is best. This encourages grass to grow deep roots, which is one secret to growing a healthy, low-maintenance lawn.
Design an in-ground irrigation system to deliver water in the most efficient way possible. Consider using low-volume, low-angle heads to apply water efficiently. Adjust and angle irrigation heads so that water is delivered as close to turf as possible. This minimizes water lost to evaporation. Observe your system in action. If you spot a mist or even fog coming from heads, that’s a sign that system pressure is too high. Make adjustments to reduce the pressure and restore irrigation to streams of water.
Check out new advances in irrigation technology. Rotary nozzles, also called stream sprays or, in some areas, rotators, deliver water to turf in a slow, even stream. Choose this type of irrigation head for watering slopes or anywhere you want slow, deliberate water delivery. These nozzles are designed to operate with low water pressure, making them adaptable to homes with water pressure in the 20-to-55 psi range. At high water pressures, rotary nozzles don’t revert to mist or fog.
Include a programmable timer in your lawn irrigation set-up. Explore the world of smart timers, which gauge irrigation schedules based on local rainfall, average temperatures and even the evapotranspiration rate of grass (how fast the grass is actually using water). Set your timer to water during low water-use hours. That typically coincides with a pre-dawn irrigation schedule, which is also ideal for minimizing water loss to evaporation. If at all possible, don’t water lawns at night, which makes them more susceptible to disease development.