Avoid These Common Lawn Mowing Mistakes
We’ve all felt the temptation to let the mowing go until we have more spare time. Not a good choice. The best overall mowing plan will have you on the lawn, riding, or walking behind your mower every few days, perhaps not more than five.
The idea is to remove not more than 1/3 of the grass blade per mowing. Frequent mowing means you will leave only short clippings on the lawn, and short clippings do not need to be picked up. The term for this procedure is “grasscycling”. Let nature break down the clippings, removing them and adding nitrogen to the soil at the same time. And, there is less overall work for you.
When you mow, mow tall! How tall is tall? Three inches or higher on Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass and 31/2 to 4 inches tall for turf-type fescue lawns. Transition zone [St. Louis and east through Virginia] lawns of turf-type fescue should be mowed in the same manner and on the same frequency schedule. Southern lawn grasses [Atlanta and south] are mowed differently, but still frequently. Spreading via above-ground runners, called stolons, these warm-season turf varieties should be mowed as closely as 1.5 to 2.0 inches. This height, along with frequent mowing, will keep the stolons in check but without ‘scalping’ the lawn.
And, speaking of ‘scalping’ the lawn or mowing too close, it really should be avoided. Why? Because when the turf is mowed too close, you remove too much of the individual grass blade, which causes significant stress to the plant. This can result in the plant’s inability to fight off summer diseases and tolerate the heat and drought conditions that are unavoidable. Healthy lawns simply out-perform and look better all summer.
In addition, the soil is exposed. Sunlight penetrates to dormant weed seeds and a weed invasion follows. Keep weeds out by mowing tall! Also by mowing too infrequently, you leave piles of long, tough-to-decompose clippings on the lawn, that will eventually add unnecessarily to a ‘thatch layer’ of dead plant clippings that form a literal barrier, preventing air, water and fertilizer from reaching plant roots. So, mow tall, mow often, and keep the mower blade sharp for a clean, healthy cut. Following a schedule of frequent mowing can and should be relaxed during the hot, dry summer months and when growth slows and later, in the fall.
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