Mowing is a vital part of lawn care. We here at Brookside wanted to take this chance to tell you some practices that we think lead to the healthiest lawn.
The proper cutting height is dependent upon the time of year. Between the months of April-mid October, 3-4 inches is the height that is recommended. It is important not to cut the grass too short! A little extra height on the turf grass helps to avoid drought stress. This is because it increases the humidity and keeps the temperatures at the soil level cooler. Higher mowing also shades out germinating weeds and sun loving insects. Proper mowing also encourages deeper rooting and denser turf grass. In turn a higher density of turf grass helps to choke out weeds. On most household mowers, these means setting it to the highest height setting. Also, be aware that some household mowers aren’t even capable of setting it to the correct height. Just something to keep in mind if you’re in the market!
Later in the Fall, around mid October, you should start to gradually mow the grass lower and lower. The goal is to hit the lower possible setting before the snow comes. Don’t worry if you cut so low it scalps the lawn a bit on the last couple of mows. Continue to mow, weather permitting. Also, it is best to mow turf grass when it is completely dry. If you’re lucky you may even get a final mow in during late November or early December.
Turf grass should be mowed frequently so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf is removed. For example, if Kentucky bluegrass is normally mowed at 2 inches, the height should not be allowed to grow beyond 3 inches before it is mowed back to 2 inches. If 1 inch is mowed, 1/3 of the total blade length is removed and the 1/3 mowing rule has been followed. During periods of active turf grass growth, many lawns will require mowing more than once per week if this recommendation is to be followed. Proper mowing frequency is a key to successful implementation of the “Don’t Bag It” clipping return program. If extended wet periods prevent timely mowing and the turf grass gets excessively tall, move the mower height adjustment to the highest setting and mow the lawn. Once the clippings dry, lower the height adjustment to the desired height and then mow the lawn a second time in a different direction. This approach is termed “Double Cutting.”
The direction of mowing should also be considered. You should alter the direction of mowing every two mows. This will prevent the grass from being pushed in the same direction and laying over. Also if scalping areas of the lawn is a problem, the different mowing directions will help minimize continual scalping in any one area.
Your lawn must be monitored frequently. Don’t wait for it to turn brown to water it. The first sign of stress is wilting and loss of springiness. It will also have a dull, grayish appearance.
Proper Watering means watering deeply and infrequently. If you water shallow and frequently, this encourages shallow roots, which are not ideal for supporting turf grass during dry periods.
For the best results, especially during dry periods, you must water 1”-1 ½” of water per week. You can measure this by placing a container in your yard and when it reaches the desired amount, it is time to move the sprinkler. It is best to water in the morning, if possible. Wet grass during the night encourages disease. Also, it is not possible to water the entire law enough with a single sprinkler during hot and dry weather.
If you follow these common practices, you can be sure that you will be one step closer to the lawn you desire. Getting the perfect lawn is hard work, but it will be worth it!