A beautiful lawn is never an accident. And among all of the strategies for grass care that make a lawn look its best, mowing properly is one of the most important. Keeping your lawn a cut above the rest is really very simple. Just remember these mowing techniques, and you’ll be well on your way to a greener and healthier lawn.
Tip #1: “Grasscycling” Helps Fertilize Your Lawn
“Should I catch my clippings when I mow?” No! It’s almost never a good idea to collect clippings from your lawn for several good reasons. Clippings return a lot of nutrients to the lawn and help with fertilizing. They do not add to thatch, and there’s no more room for them in landfills anyway.
Clippings “recycle” as much as 15% of all the food value of the lawn fertilizer applied. This means a lawn that “grasscycles” can be greener and better fed than one where clippings are removed. And because clippings have such high water content, they break down quickly and return both mositure and lawn fertilizing nutrients to the soil fast. Letting your clippings lie will tap into the natural cycle of nature, and save you time and effort during routine lawn fertilization.
Tip #2: Make Sure You’re Controlling Thatch Build-Up
Thatch is the layer of living and dead roots and stems that form on top of the soil. A small amount of thatch is a good thing, but when thatch builds up faster than the soil can break it down, all sorts of lawn maintenance problems start to crop up. The misunderstanding is that grass clippings add to this thatch. This just isn’t true. Thatch is made up mostly of roots and stems, not grass blades. Bagging the clippings does not reduce thatch build-up. Core aeration will help control thatch more than bagging grass clippings.
Tip #3: Mow Your Grass High
The first guideline for growing grass is mowing high. A lawn kept clipped at the correct height is able to stay greener, helps with weed control, conserves water by shading the soil, and has more food producing ability. Weed and crabgrass seeds need plenty of sun and heat to sprout. Because of this, taller grass is one of the best methods of weed prevention you can use. Shading the soil by mowing higher also reduces water loss from evaporation.
Cutting too short or too much off at once is Scalping. When you set the blade too low, you may remove most of the food producing parts of the plant. The result is a brown lawn that takes weeks and weeks to recover.
Tip #4: Don’t Mow Too Much – But Make Sure You’re Mowing Enough
Mowing at the right frequency is the second grass care rule to keeping your lawn in top condition. Lawns grow at very different rates from season to season. Turf grass produces more top growth during the spring and fall, and your mowing schedule should match the growth of your lawn. During periods of heavy growth, once a week may not be enough, while every ten days might be fine during the summer.
The key to mowing frequency is to never remove more than 1/3 of the total blade height in a single mowing.
Tip #5: Maintain a healthy lawn by sharpening and balancing your mower blade
We receive grass care inquiries every year about lawns that look brown even after periods of rain and cooler weather. In almost every case, this is the result of a dull mower blade shredding the tips of the grass. When a blade is dull, it rips the turf instead of cutting cleanly. The ripped tips then bleach out and turn brown, giving the whole lawn a tan or brown cast. Having the blade sharpened and balanced once per year is usually not enough, especially on larger properties. To keep your grass growing strong, you should touch up your blade edge with a file or have it re-sharpened 2 to 3 times per year.
Remember: always disconnect the spark plug anytime you put your hands into the blade area. By following these easy grass and lawn care rules, you’ll always keep your lawn on the cutting edge.
Things to remember when cutting grass:
- The common perception that clippings add to thatch has been disproved by university research.
- Grass clippings left on the lawn return up to 15% of the nutrients applied in lawn fertilizer.
- Up to 10% of landfill space has been used by grass clippings, and we’re running out of space.
- Mow the turf high. Set the mower on one of the highest settings. Never remove more than 1/3 of the blade height at a time.
- Mow more often during periods of heavy grass growth.
- Keep the blade sharp for a clean cut.
- Never handle the blade without disconnecting the spark plug wire first.
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