13 April, 2017
6 Mowing Tips for a Healthier, Better Lawn
Every time you mow your lawn, you could be doing be setting it up for success or failure. If you mow correctly, you will groom grass that’s healthy, thick enough to suffocate weeds, and drought-tolerant. On the other hand, if you don’t mow properly, your lawn may not survive. Time your mowing so you don’t remove a third of the whole leaf surface of each grass blade per cutting.
Never mow wet turf
Mowing turf that’s wet is a bad idea for various reasons. First of all, it will affect the cut quality as it’s more difficult for the blade to keep up its speed. This is because wet clippings clump together and impede its progress.
Secondly, the clumping adversely affects the ability of the mower to chop up and mulch the clippings. It then leaves large clumps in the grass which need to be raked up, or the clumps get stuck in the deck to impede your mower further.
Thirdly, a slower mower blade will produce a poor quality of cut. This may also mean the blade tearing grass blades in half, instead of cutting them.
Never scalp lawn
Never scalp grass, in other words, cut it too short. When you scalp your lawn, it’ll be vulnerable to weed infestation and diseases. Scalped lawn tends to be sparse and weak, which exposes soil. Exposed soil is one of the leading sources of weeds as it lets weed seeds take root. In addition, a sparse lawn allows sunlight to reach weed seedlings, enhancing their growth. Grass that’s constantly scalped has a weak root system, making the lawn more vulnerable to severe damage from high temperature or drought.
Sharpen mower blades
Keep your lawn mower’s blades sharp to achieve the best results each time you mow. Sharp blades cut turf cleanly, while dull blades tear grass, resulting in an uneven, jagged edge. These tears allow diseases and pests to enter grass blades.
During the cutting season, sharpen your blades a few times. Avoid mowing over stones or thick branches to minimize damage or dulling of the blades. Consider buying an additional blade, so you always have another sharp blade at hand.
Mow your turf according to conditions
The height of your turf should change with the change in overall conditions. The height needs to be shorter during normal, optimal growing conditions, and longer at times of stress.
Some usual risks and stresses for your turf include disease, sod (recovering from transplant), drought, and newly growing/planted grass. Longer turf will let root systems develop more fully so your grass is more drought-resistant.
Longer grass also lets less of the sun penetrate the soil, which means your soil dries out less quickly, weeds are denied sunlight as they attempt to grow, and the turf can partially cover itself from the intense rays of the sun.
So, take note of your conditions. For short grass, ensure that the weather and your lawn’s current health allow it. If not, allow it to grow a bit more.
Use the 150% rule when mowing
The length you mow your grass is vital, so always mow your lawn before or when it reaches 150% of your preferred cutting height. This is also called the one-third rule, which means you don’t mow more than a third of the blade of grass when cutting your grass. So, to cut one inch grass, do it before or when it’s one and a half inches long.
Cutting the grass too short shocks it, causing halted growth. In addition, it can leave your turf open to further damage from disease, conditions, and result in a thinned lawn.
If your grass usually grows fast and you’re tired of mowing it repeatedly, choose a longer lawn length. You’ll have enough time between cuttings and you won’t jeopardize your lawn’s health.
Mulch your clippings
Always mulch your clippings instead of bagging them. This returns vital nutrients to your turf, encouraging thicker, healthier grass. However, if you aren’t sticking to the one-third rule, you probably aren’t helping your grass.
If you’ve allowed your grass to grow too long and you cut more than a third of its length, you may end up with large clippings that block sunshine to the remaining living grass. If this happens, it’s best to bag the clippings, or rake the lawn, if necessary.
Short, finely cut clippings are a good lawn fertilizer. They can easily fall between the remaining grass blades and into the soil to be absorbed. In case your clippings aren’t visible or you’re unable to mulch, you should certainly bag them.