Proper Mowing Techniques
Careful with that axe, Eugene! A cut to the quick will mean a slow recovery!
The right height, the right time, and a sharp, sharp blade are what you need to keep things growing at a healthy clip! There is nothing we do more frequently in lawn maintenance than mowing the grass, and nothing we do with a greater frequency of mistakes either! Here are some tips on proper mowing.
Keep Those Blades Sharp
The quickest way to improve lawn quality and turf health is to mow with a sharp blade. Cutting with a dull blade results in jagged edges at the cut and provides a point where diseases can enter plant.
When is the last time you sharpened and balanced your mower blade? We recommend homeowners sharpen the blade at least three times per growing season: start the year off with a sharp blade (perhaps you can do this when you put the mower away for the winter?), sharpen it again in late spring, and then once more in mid-late summer.
Set your mower’s cutting height to match the appropriate height of cut for your particular grass. If your lawn has a white hue rather than a green color after you mow, it is a good bet that you are cutting too low.
For cool-season turf grass, like those grown in most of the transition zone, it is always a safer bet to begin raising their cutting heights in late spring/early summer to reduce stress due to environmental conditions and pest pressure.
Taller cutting heights at these times help maintain the plant’s root system. Set your mowing height to at least 3″ to 4″ for the summer to help reduce stress. What about turf in the shade? Mow on the high side of the recommended range in order to maximize the plant’s leaf area.
Be Careful How Much Cut At Any Single Mowing
Perhaps you have also heard of the “1/3rd rule” of mowing — that is, never remove more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade at any single mowing. Removing most of the foliage in a cutting shocks the plant, forcing it to redirect its food resources from roots and stems to growing new leaves.
If the grass has gotten away from you, resist the temptation to scalp it in a single mowing. Instead, slowly drop the mowing height every 2-3 days while returning the turf to its ideal cutting height. This approach takes a little patience, but it will maintain plant health.
What To Do With the Clippings
Return clippings as often as possible to your turf. Clippings are nothing more than organic fertilizer for your lawn, and if you follow the 1/3rd rule, you will never produce enough clippings to cause problems with your lawn.
When to STOP Mowing?
Finally, if environmental conditions, no rain, hot temperatures or a combination of both, cause the grass to stop growing…STOP MOWING. Continued mowing will cause more stress to the grass plants.
Fescues will turn brown under stress conditions and is nothing more than the plants protective response. They will usually recover with adequate moisture.
In review… keep your blades sharp, mow when the grass needs to be cut, minimum mowing height for fescues is 3″, return the clippings and stop mowing when the grass stops growing.
Proper Mowing Techniques