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.
"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 moisture 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 mowing.
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.
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.
– Bermuda Grass 1” to 2” – Zoysia Grass 1” to 2” – Centipede Grass 1½” to 2” – St Augustine Grass 3½” to 4” – Tall Fescue Grass 3” to 4” – Bluegrass 2½” to 3” – Perennial Ryegrass 2½” to 3” – Fine Fescue 2½” to 3½”
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.
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.
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