Mowing and Watering Tips to Avoid a Brown Lawn

bad mowing brown lawn

Spring-Green often gets asked, “why is my lawn turning brown?” or “why do I have a brown lawn and my neighbors don’t?”Often people think that the reason their lawn is brown is due to insect or disease activity. In most cases, the damage is usually the result of improper mowing and watering. Learn these mowing and watering tips to help avoid a brown lawn, and ensure a healthier and greener one.

Mowing Tips To Avoid a Brown Lawn

The number one reason for most lawn damage and having a brown lawn is improper mowing. Here are the proper mowing heights for the most common grasses found in home lawn areas:

  • Bermuda Grass 1/2 to 1-1/2”
  • Zoysia Grass 3/4 to 1-1/2”
  • Centipede Grass 1-1/2 to 2”
  • St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 to 4”
  • Tall Fescue Grass 3 to 4”
  • Kentucky Bluegrass 2 to 3”
  • Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 3”
  • Fine Fescue 2-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2”

There is a rule in regards to how much to cut off each time a lawn is mowed and it is called the “one-third” rule. The goal is to mow so that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed at any one time.  That is not always practical, especially when it seems to rain every weekend, which is the only time most people mow their lawns. If the lawn mower is set at the proper height, even if more than a third of the grass blade is removed, the grass will still look like a green and healthy lawn after mowing.

It is important to understand why mowing at a higher setting is important to the overall health of your lawn.

4 tips why the lawn should be cut at a longer length:

  1. The grass blade is where photosynthesis takes place. That is how the plant produces food.  When too much of the grass blade is cut off, less food will be produced by the plant.
  2. The longer grass blades will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and, therefore, moister for a longer period of time, so watering requirements are reduced.
  3. By shading the ground, less sun is able to reach weed seeds that are always present in the lawn and prevent them from germinating. Mowing tall is one of the best ways to control weeds.
  4. It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will match the height of the grass plants. Short mowing will result in short roots.

How Much Should I Water My Lawn?

Watering is the second most misunderstood cultural practice. Homeowners either water too much or too little. As a general rule, a lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week to stay green and healthy.  Automatic sprinkler systems in the spring and summer make watering great, but watering too much can lead to turfgrass that is more water dependent than it needs to be. Too much water also saturates the soil, filling up the air space between the soil particles with water, causing the plant to drown. Watering less and letting the turf dry out between watering will develop deeper roots that need less water.

Turfgrass is a remarkable plant and can recover even after some extremely dry weather or drought. For the most part, cool-season grasses can go about 4 weeks without water. Warm season grasses can last much longer with little to no water and, in some cases, will survive through the entire growing season. There is no mistaking that lawns will go dormant and and cause a brown lawn. This is the plant’s defense mechanism – to shut off all unnecessary growth in an attempt to keep the crown and roots alive. At a minimum, supply about one-half an inch of water to the lawn each month to protect the crown and roots.

Before thinking you have a brown lawn due to an insect or disease problem, determine if you are mowing and watering the proper way. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to have your entire lawn evaluated today.