The art of mowing the lawn
Most of the time we mow the grass in our yard to keep it manicured and where we can walk around the yard easily. There are a number of reasons why mowing frequently is very healthy to your lawn and we will cover all of these in this article.
Frequent mowing will help provide a dense canopy which will reduce the weed pressure, shade the soil from the hot sun, lower the required amount of irrigation and fertilizer. Weekly mowing causes the grass plant to produce newer leaves below the mow line vs trying grow vertically and then produce the new leaves.
The general rule is to never cut more than 1/3 of the grass plant at one time to prevent stress on the plant. It requires the leaves to produce energy and removing small amounts at a time does not impact this energy production in a stressful manner. When more is removed, then the plant has to use its resources to recover from the large loss of leaf material. There are times where you may need to raise the mower for the first cut to achieve this, then lower the mower in increments. This can be spaced out a few days apart to allow the grass to recover in-between mowings.
Each type of turf has a preferred mowing height, and the location can determine if you need to keep it at a higher or lower height. Bermuda typically likes to be mowed very low, but for a home lawn 2.5” or lower is ideal. Zoysia, depending on the variety likes to be mowed be-tween 1-3”. St. Augustine prefers to be around the 3-4” height. Buffalo must be kept at 6” plus.
As the summer temperature increase, we want to raise the mowing height to protect the soil and give the plant more leaf surface area to produce energy to tolerate the heat stress. If you have a shady area, then raising the height will also help. By having more leaf material, the grass can capture more sunlight and better tolerate the shade.
You don’t want to overlook having a sharp mowing blade. A dull blade can cause disease issues, uneven cuts, mulching issues, and a terrible looking lawn. If you are mowing your own lawn on a weekly basis, it is a good idea to sharpen your blade monthly. If you are having a professional company maintain your property, then you want to make sure they are doing it daily.
To mulch or not to mulch?
The only time it’s a good idea to bag the clippings is if you are using them to compost. Other than that, it’s always best to mulch them up in the yard. The microbes in the soil will break down the clippings over time and provide nutrients to the turf. The exception is if you are scalping down the grass. Then you will want to bag the clippings.
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