Everybody wants a lush and healthy green lawn. Achieving a lawn that is envy worthy is nothing but the product of following the appropriate cultural practices, time, and a dedicated budget. If you selected the right grass cultivar for your site’s conditions and the site was prepared correctly, this series on lawn maintenance practices will help you attain the lawn of your dreams.
Mowing is the most basic cultural practice used to achieving a healthy lawn. Below are some tips regarding the adequate mowing of your lawn:
Always use sharp blades on your mower! Dull blades will rip and shred the leaves not only giving your lawn a yellow brownish appearance, but it also weakens the grass and increases the chance of infections. How often to sharpen your blades? On average, after every 20 to 25 hours of use.
Mow at the optimum mowing height for your type of grass. In general, cool season grasses such as Fescue will have higher cutting heights than warm season grasses such as Bermuda and Zoysia. The height has been established depending on the grass classification as C3 or C4. C3 and C4 are the photosynthetic pathways followed by grass species during photosynthesis. C3 grasses incorporate carbon dioxide (CO2) into an initial three-carbon compound, whereas C4 grasses incorporate carbon dioxide (CO2) into an initial four-carbon compound.
That difference distinguishes the grasses ideal growing conditions to include their tolerance for shade. Keep in mind that when you cut your grass too short, you weaken the grass and invite weeds, diseases, and insects. It is hard for weeds to find space to germinate when the grass is lush!
Mow frequently and follow the 1/3 rule. As a rule of thumb, mow once a week during the growing season remembering the 1/3 rule. The most important mowing rule is to never remove more than one-third of the plant in a single mowing.
There are various reasons to follow the 1/3 rule:
- Aesthetics, more leaf blade surface means greener grass
- When you mow too low you are reducing the amount of leaf area available for photosynthesis which in turn may reduce the turf’s vigor.
- Lawns become more tolerant of environmental stresses.
As an added bonus, when you mow frequently there are less chances for your weeds to go to seed therefore reducing the spread of those weeds. Yes, you will have to adjust your lawnmower’s height if you are mowing infrequently.
Leave grass clippings on the lawn for free fertilizer. If you are mowing frequently, leaving grass clippings behind is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. A mulching mower works the best because it is designed to chop up clippings very fine and then deposits them down in the turf canopy. As the clippings decompose, they release water and nutrients back into the soil. As per the University of Oregon, grass clippings contain up to the equivalent per weight of 3% – 4% nitrogen, 0.5% phosphorus, and 2.5% – 3.5% potassium.
Bag your clippings if:
- your lawn is infested with a disease, pest, or fungus, as leaving the clippings on the lawn can spread the infestation.
- you applied an herbicide.
- the grass was too long when you cut it.
- the clippings are wet and heavy as they will smother the grass underneath.
Change your mowing direction each time you mow to avoid compaction and rutting. Try 2 to 4 directions if possible (north to south, east to west, and 2 diagonal directions).
Avoid mowing when the grass is wet. Besides the increased chances of leaving ruts and low spots on your grass or even having an accident on a very slippery surface, there is the probability of diminished health. When you cut grass that is damp, the mower could leave ragged edges that can welcome fungal infestations, mold, and other problems.
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