Often delegated to the nearest teenager looking for some extra cash, mowing might seem like a goof-proof chore. Believe it or not most insect, disease and weed problems are caused by mowing contractors mowing others lawns and transferring them into yours. But, the truth is, lawns that are properly mowed are actually healthier and more beautiful.
A properly mowed lawn is thicker and has deeper roots, making it more durable and better equipped to combat weeds, insects, and diseases. Alternately, mowing mistakes can result in discolored grass tips, brown spots, and damage to the lawn.
Most common mowing mistakes are mowing too infrequently and cutting grass too short. Here are more specific tips on proper mowing technique:
Letting grass grow tall and then removing more than 1/3 of its leaf blade is called “scalping” and can damage the lawn. Mowing grass extremely low can also damage the lawn by cutting into the crowns of the plants.
Make sure your mower blades are sharp in order to cut cleanly. Dull blades can shred grass and cause discoloration at the tips because frayed grass blades lose moisture easily. Sharpen the blades of rotary mowers several times each growing season or when dull. Some grass species have tough blades, which causes lawn mower blades to wear quickly. Just remember all blades should be sharpened on a 45 degree angle resembling a new blade.
Be Gentle with Damaged Grass
Raise the mower height a notch or two when mowing a lawn that’s recovering from drought, insect damage or disease.
Use Your Grass Clippings
Recycle grass clippings (i.e., mulching grass blades) to reduce water loss, lower soil temperatures, and return nutrients to the soil. Plus, you’ll save the trouble of bagging and keep clippings out of our already-clogged landfills. In fact, many communities will no longer accept grass clippings in household trash.
Don’t Cut Wet or Wilted Grass
Avoid cutting wet grass, which can cause brown spots because clippings clump together and smother your lawn. Cutting wilted grass, particularly during the hottest part of the day, can also cause severe damage to your lawn.
How Often to Mow
The best guide for mowing frequently is the growth of your grass. Plan to cut less than one-third of the grass blade in one mowing. Keep in mind zoysiagrass and centipedegrass may grow at different rates.
Generally in the spring you start off lower and in the summer you raise the height slightly to maintain a thicker, healthier lawn. The reason is the canopy of the lawn helps maintain temperature, moisture and carbohydrates.
So You Miss a Mowing
During periods of rapid growth, lawns may require mowing as frequently as every three to four days. Of course, sometimes we just don’t have time to mow as often as we’d like. If your grass has grown too high, reset your mower to its highest cutting level. Three or four days later, reset the mower to cut at the normal height and mow your grass again.