Welcome back to The Wonderful World of Weed Man! Our hope is to continue Lawn Care education through our blog. If this blog helps you learn how to have an amazing lawn, then we have done our job! This article continues our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!’ series. If you are just joining us, you can click on the link and catch up on any of our previous articles. Our most recent article, ‘If You Don’t Wash Your Lawn It Will Get Dirty’ was all about successful watering habits to make sure you have the most efficient watering habits.
This week we will continue on with mowing practices! Before we get to far in, I wanted to point out that I discovered Amazon will rent you goats to come and ‘mow’ your lawn. You can see for yourself right here! Amazon has just increased a level of impressiveness in my opinion. For those that prefer not to traipse through goat droppings when they are having fun in their lawn, the old fashioned modern mower usually will do the trick.
We have touched on mowing in a couple articles in the past: We touched on a very basic set of mowing practices in a blog entry earlier in the year, and covered the mechanics of mower startup earlier in this series as well. I would like to delve further into mowing practices and expand on what has already been covered. Mowing is a VITAL part of the success and health of your lawn.
One person will spend more time mowing a lawn per season than any other aspect of lawn care.
Fertilizer, Weed Control, and various other lawn aspects of taking care of a lawn require far less time to invest then what is spent on mowing. If you are spending all that time and energy mowing your lawn, you definitely want to see great results for your efforts. For those of you who despise mowing your lawn, let me give you some benefits that hopefully will help you realize it is worth your time:
Stronger Grass – only the strongest grass blades left after mowing will heal and improve and the weakest blades will be left in the dust. The more often you cut your lawn, the healthier/stronger it will be.
Uniform Growth – when you mow the lawn, it brings all blades to a uniform level. This in turn means that there will be a more even distribution of water and sunlight – which will help the lawn grow more consistent and uniform all around. You will still get areas that grow at a greater rate than others, but you will see less and less of this over time.
Aesthetically Pleasing – a well-manicured lawn just looks great! It does! The curb appeal of your home is important – it is the first impression of your home. We have been told over our entire lifetime not to judge a book by its cover, unfortunately that is what we do as humans. We are constantly judging upon first impression. Make your home’s first impression a great one!
Exercise – mowing benefits you personally. For every hour of mowing you burn on average 300 calories. That milk shake you just bought from Sonic will only take you two hours of mowing to burn off! If you hate mowing and are on a diet, just think of how many times you have to mow the lawn to burn off that meal you want to eat. It may help motivate you to slim down in more ways than one.
Upon discovering the importance of mowing and resigning yourself to the fact that it must be done, how should you go about it? Here is a set of principles you need to be aware of throughout the mowing season:
First Mowing – your first mowing is less about a specific date, and more about the state of your lawn in the spring. Even in the same neighborhood, two homeowners may start mowing at different times of the spring. You want to monitor the length of your grass, and mow it when it reaches a specific height – 3.5” – 4”. Then cut it down to a height of 2.5”-3”. Remember our 1/3 rule. Cut no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time. I’ve seen articles where the ‘weekend gardener’ says to cut cool season grasses down to 2”. Depending on your grass type, this will damage your lawn. Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye-grass, Tall Fescue (prominent grasses in the Treasure Valley) should all be cut down to 2.5”-3.5”. Never trust ‘professional’ advice from a person whose title by definition identifies themselves as an amateur lawn hobbyist. Once the lawn is cut the first time of the year, it will promote growth in the semi dormant lawn and help wake it up for the year.
Raising and Lowering your Mower – Your mower deck, at any given point during the year should be no lower than 2.5” from the ground. If you mow too short the grass will be damaged and more prone to weakness. The grass has to expend a large amount of nutrients to try and repair itself. Vital nutrients it needs to defend itself against drought, disease, insects, and even weeds. Crab grass in particular has an easier time invading a lawn when the grass is cut too short. The best way to measure this is to find a flat surface (driveway or sidewalk) and use a ruler/tape measure and measure up from the concrete to the lower lip of the mower deck –
Mow Different Heights at Different Times – During the cooler seasons of the year (Spring, Fall) you want to have a little shorter lawn than during the hot summers. If you keep it at 2.5”-3” while it is cooler, this will help keep out some of the cooler seasons diseases like rust and powdery mildew. This helps the soil dry out the top layer in a shorter period of time to prevent disease. When the warm temps of summer roll around you would then raise your mowing height to 3.5” – 4”. A taller grass blade will help shade the soil so the top layer of soil does not dry out too quickly in the triple digit temps. A taller blade will also help block sun from germinating weeds that are particularly troublesome in the summer. Crab Grass, Spurge and other summer annuals have a harder time invading lawns with a taller grass.
Keep Your Blade Sharp – I often run into people who love the smell of fresh cut grass. The stronger the better they say. It is important to realize that the particular smell the grass makes when it is cut, is in fact a defensive chemical secretion grass makes when it is stressed or damaged. The grass thinks it is being attacked by an insect and sends a chemical signal out that other parasitic insects will sense and come looking to eat the original insects. The stronger the smell, the more damage has been done to the blade. This is typical when you have a dull mower blade. It is ripping the grass instead of cutting. It takes more energy and resources to heal itself then if the cut was clean.
- Grass A = A sharp mower blade
- Grass B = Very DULL mower blade
- Grass C = Semi Dull Blade ripping grass
- Grass D = Blade that has been dull for some time and been continually used on same lawn.
Mulching – if you mow often enough and keep the 1/3 rule in mind you should be able to mulch every time and not see the ‘buildup of hay’ most people think of when they think of mulching. If the clippings are little they absorb easily back into the lawn without seeing them very much and it is greatly beneficial to do so. If you mulched all year, it would be equivalent to a full application of fertilizer on your lawn. That is a lot of nutrients most people throw away each year.
Best Time to Mow – The best time to mow, is similar to the best time to water. Mornings. If you mow during the heat of the day, your lawn will be unnecessarily stressed out. If you mow at evening/night, there is not enough time for your lawn to heal itself before it is introduced to and environment that disease and fungus thrive in. It will be more prone to disease and damage if you mow at less than ideal times.
Last Mowing – similar to the first mowing, the last mowing is less about a date and more about the state of your lawn. As long as your lawn is still growing, you still want to mow. If you don’t mow towards the end of the year and end up with a lawn 3.5” or taller you run the risk of inviting snow mold/winter mold into your lawn. This occurs when, again the top layer of soil cannot dry out. As long as it is growing, keep mowing!
Following these principles will help you maintain your lawn and keep it beautiful and green all throughout the growing season! If you have questions about mowing, don’t hesitate to call us for advice. If you can’t or don’t want to mow your lawn yourself, let us know. Though we do not mow lawns as part of our services, we can definitely recommend a great mower to you!