As we begin each season, we like to advise everyone on the importance of proper mowing practices. This article will be repetitive for many, however we must stress that mowing is the most important maintenance that your lawn receives and that improper mowing is still the most common cause of lawn problems for homeowners in our area. Mowing too short, too infrequently, and with a dull blade are the most common mistakes made mowing. The effects of improper mowing often do not show until hot weather comes. Poor color, thin turf, and even brown areas of lawn result each season from mowing too low as well as too infrequently.
For a high quality dense turf, mow frequently. We want to encourage everyone not to mow on a once-a-week basis; rather mowing frequency should be dictated by the grass' growth rate. There is a rule in horticulture that says to mow often enough so that you never remove more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Good mowng contributes to the appearance, health, and weed resistance of a lawn. There are three keys to quality mowing.
1. Height: We recommend 3 to 3.5 inches. Taller mowed turf will grow deeper roots, have more leaf area to manufacture food, and provide more cover over the soil, keeping roots cooler and helping prevent weed germination.
2. Frequency: We recommend mowing often enough so that only leaf tissue is cut. When grass grows tall between mowings, the stems elongate, and stem tissue is cut during mowing causing a lower quality, stemy turf. We recommend mowing twice weekly or on a 4 to 5 day schedule.
3. Sharp Blade: We recommend sharpening the mower blade every six weeks for the average homeowner. The easiest way to stay on schedule with blade sharpening is to buy an extra blade. This allows plenty of time for taking the dull blade in for sharpening. Also be aware that many new blades do not come sharpened, for safety reasons.
Proper mowing can help overcome the heat, insects, weeds, drought, and disease problems that your lawn can face each season. Improper mowing only adds another obstacle to overcome. Remember, a little effort with setting up a proper mowing schedule not only keeps your lawn looking great, but also helps prevent the time, money, and effort that would have to be spent in repairing a lawn not properly maintained.