When you look at your lawn what do you see?
Do you see a nice green lawn that’s a pleasure to look at, sit or play on? Are you content as long as it stays green most of the summer and you don’t mind a few weeds as long as it still looks okay? These questions can only be answered by you, but one of the best ways to determine if you have been successful with your lawn area is if it’s meeting your needs and expectations in appearance. There are numerous levels of care for your lawn, but basically we’re all busy and we want to have the best looking lawn we can, while putting only the minimum amount of time, money and effort into it as possible – right? The good news is that proper mowing habits will bring a huge boost towards having your best lawn ever.
We can all agree your lawn would not look better if you never mowed it because depending on what kind of grass you have it would grow anywhere from 12 to 36 inches tall, set inconspicuous flowers, and in time the grass would fall over and begin to thin out giving a neglected appearance. Thus doing the minimum amount of mowing your lawn will look much better than if you did nothing at all. This is because mowing actually helps make your grass grow thicker because the tip of each blade of grass contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. So when you cut the lawn, you are removing the tips and the hormones which then allow the grass to spread and grow outward faster. Mowing also removes any brown or damaged tips and it also helps deter weeds by keeping the lawn thicker with fewer holes for weeds to take hold.
Conversely, the very nature of mowing is actually injuring the plant leaving a cut end for pathogens to invade, and every mowing shocks the plant to put its energy into growing new leaves rather than the roots.
So the roots of mown grass can be less extensive and robust, and mown grass tends to store fewer carbohydrates which it needs to help combat stress. So the pros and cons of mowing have a huge influence on how healthy a lawn is, and this is why mowing your lawn correctly is so important. It has to be tall enough for the grass to be able to recover from mowing and maintain a healthy root system, and also be short enough so the lawn doesn’t get stemmy and rough looking.
Most grasses have a balance between the size of their root systems and length of their grass blades. When the roots and the grass blades are in balance the plants will be their healthiest and be able to handle all kinds of stress. The best way to keep your grass in balance is to keep it at its correct height. Try to avoid scalping your grass too low because this forces the plant to tap into its food reserves which will in time stress the grass which will make it thin out, be more susceptible to heat, cold, drought, pest attacks and disease. When grass is severely cut back the growth of the roots and the plant comes almost to a complete stop until the leaves can recover. This places a huge amount of stress on the plant which is often visible in a yellow to brownish look to the lawn after mowing. When the grass is mowed at its correct height however, the roots can keep growing and the grass thrives.
What is the best mowing height?
A good rule of thumb to follow is the one-third rule. The one-third rule says: Never remove more than a third of the grass blade at any one time. Cool season grasses like Blue Grass, Fescue, and Rye should be mowed as high as possible. The best is around 2 to 3 1/2 inches. If you cut any taller than that, the grass can flop over, and if you cut it too short, the grass is more susceptible to weeds, it dries out faster, and over all does poorly. Warm season grasses like Zoysia should generally be mowed at a slightly shorter height and may require mowing more than once a week. Mowing at the proper height will encourage a dense, thriving turf that naturally blocks weeds.
How and when you mow your grass depends upon the type of grass you have, the season, and the amount of water and fertilizer you apply throughout the year. For example: cool-season grasses are mowed more in the spring and fall, while warm-season grasses are mowed more in the summer. You may have to mow once to twice a week during peak growth times or only once every ten days or twice a month during slow growth times. Thus a proper mowing schedule is done by height and not on a calendar schedule. Consider your optimum mowing height for your type of grass, allow it to grow one-third taller than its optimum height, and then cut it back by no more than one-third to bring it back to its optimum height. Continue mowing your lawn until it goes dormant in the fall.
If possible try to mow your lawn in different directions every time. This avoids compacting soil into ruts and will help your grass grow more upright and provide a better appearance.
Try not to cut grass when it’s wet. This is because the cut tends to be very uneven, the clippings clog the mower and can mat on the grass blocking light. However, if you have long periods of rain you may wish to consider using light equipment to help balance the need to keep your grass from growing too tall and thus violating the one-third rule.
It is important to keep note of uneven areas of the ground. Avoid scalping the high spots by either raising the deck on your mower, or repairing the grade of uneven areas. Also, when mowing on a slope it is generally safer to do it on a diagonal.
Mowing your lawn is like getting a good haircut. You need to overlap each pass to ensure there are no missed strips. It is always important to make sure your mower blade is sharp. Otherwise they won’t make a clean cut and will rip and tear the grass. This creates an injury for diseases and pests to invade your grass.
The good news – paying attention to proper mowing habits will lead to huge improvement in the health and appearance of your lawn within a few weeks.
Now you only have one question left to ask yourself. Should you mow the lawn yourself or call our team of experts today and let them take the sweat out of your lawn mowing needs? To get started call today at 301-251-9822 or request a Free Estimate from our website.