Use these smart mowing tips and you will protect your lawn regardless of the climate or soil type. Proper mowing is an integral part of lawn management and, without it, all other lawn care practices are rendered ineffective.
Prepare the Lawn in the Spring
In the spring, lawns start to green-up at different rates depending on the type of grass and the location. If the lawn is very thick, it will take longer to become green because less sunlight reaches the individual blades, and that is a good sign!
This is the time of year to prepare the lawn by getting rid of stones and sand left by winter storms, snowplows, and snow blowers, especially along the road and driveway. Begin by raking up the worst of the rubble and then use a shop vacuum to pick up the smaller pieces. Keep at it until you no longer hear stones being sucked up.
Don’t Cut the Lawn too Short
Follow the recommended height for mowing depending on the variety of grass growing in your yard. In general, or when in doubt, make sure that no more than one-third of the lawn’s surface is removed at each cutting.
If the grass is cut shorter than it should be, the lawn is subject to physiological shock and will take time to recover before it begins growing again. Grass should be 2.5 to three inches tall after cutting it, which means it should not grow higher than 4.5 inches before mowing.
Cutting the grass shorter may be the style in your neighborhood, but don’t give in to peer pressure. There are many more benefits to keeping your grass longer and not removing more than one-third of the height each time. You will have healthier, thicker grass over the long term. Short grass exposes the soil to increased sunlight and air, which causes a loss of moisture and slower growth.
Follow these General Mowing Rules
Cut the grass when it’s dry. Wet grass clumps together and doesn’t cut as cleanly as dry grass, and you risk leaving mowing tracks behind if the mower sinks into soft soil.
Cut the grass regularly. You don’t want to cut more than one-third of the height at any one time, which means the grass mustn’t be left to grow too long.
Make sure your mower has sharp blades so that the grass is cut cleanly and not bruised and torn, which means a longer recovery time before it starts to grow again.
Let the Clippings Lie Whenever Possible
If you cut the grass regularly, you can receive the benefits of leaving the clippings where they fall on the lawn:
- It takes much less time to mow since you don’t have to stop every few minutes to empty the grass catcher.
- Short clippings fall between the blades and disappear very quickly.
- The biggest advantage to leaving the clippings is the protection of the soil from the elements, the retention of moisture, and the source of fertilizer. Up to 25% of the lawn’s fertilizer needs can be met by the decomposing grass clipping, which also encourage earthworms that help keep the soil aerated.
- If you leave the grass un-mowed too long, the grass clippings will lie on top of the mowed lawn creating the unfortunate look of hay. If you can’t keep to your mowing schedule and the clippings are longer than an inch or so, bag them.
Don’t let anyone tell you that leaving the clippings will create a harmful, thick matting of thatch that prevents the penetration of moisture, air and nutrients, and harbors harmful insects. Thatch is not caused by leaving grass clipping on the lawn but by the normal intertwining layer of living and dying stems and roots, which is healthy and natural. Thatch that becomes too thick and causes problems is the result of watering too frequently with too little water each time.
Use smart mowing tips to encourage the growth of a healthy, thick, lush lawn.
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