Leaving on vacation; seven days of stress free fun and escape from the hum-drum duties we all face in maintaining our properties during the summer season.
And, if you are like literally millions of other homeowners, one of your thoughts may be, “Better set the mower down for a close cut before we go so I won’t find a hay field where my front yard was when we get home”
Makes sense, sort of. If you mow every 5-6 days and are gone for a full week, stands to reason you’re going to face piles of clippings on your return. Solution, scalp the lawn!
Other options are smarter. Scalping the lawn, mowing it down to an inch or so, will buy you more growing time; but it happens at a cost. Specifically, the lawn will suffer big time. Here’s how:
- Close mowing opens up space for sunlight to penetrate directly to the soil surface. Why is that potentially bad? Because that’s precisely where weeds are waiting; waiting for just the right conditions to take off, growing rapidly and filling in open areas. And you, albeit unwittingly, have provided just the right conditions! So, close mowing promotes weed growth. Not good.
- Close mowing means removing most of the grass blade. When you remove more than 1/3 of the blade per mowing, you create stress on the plant. Imagine you are given the choice of losing a finger or an entire hand. Which would be most damaging; most stressful? The answer is obvious; lose the finger. Same situation exists with plants. The more tissue that is removed, the greater the stress on the plant. So, take off only 1/3 of the blade per mowing. So much for scalping the lawn before vacation.
- Close mowing not only stresses the grass plant, it removes the part of the plant where food is produced. Photosynthesis, food production, takes place consistently in the grass blade. Remove the blade and you remove the food producing cells, so important to healthy growth.
These are three good reasons to re-think close mowing before leaving on the family vacation. Check with any plant expert or your local university extension service and you will find the same recommendation; mow tall.
And, to avoid the ‘hay field’ of turf on your return, bite the bullet and pay the neighborhood kid to mow your lawn while you are away!!