Lawn Mowing Tips
How to Cut Grass Like a Pro
Lawn mowing is important and how you mow determines the quality of your lawn. We are going to provide you with tips and techniques to help you keep your lawn looking clean and healthy. Improper mowing increases negative effects, giving weeds, diseases and insects the upper hand.
Grass Cutting Rules
These Rules will keep your grass looking good, healthy, vigorous, tolerating drought and prepared to fight pest invasions.
- Mow high (1 to 2” ) for most warm season lawns (3-4”) cool season
- Mow frequently. once a week recommended during growing season.
- Don’t remove more than 1/3 of growth
- Keep your mower blades sharp
- Don’t bag your clippings – “grasscyling” (mulching) leaf blades hold 30% of nutrients in the lawn.
- Don’t cut in the same direction every time.
- Blow clippings off walks, driveways and streets back onto lawns
Mowing Tip #1 – Cut High; (1-2”) Warm season (3-4”) Cool season
Most lawns should be mowed in the range between 1 to 4 inches – depending on the grass-type. Warm-season grasses – Bermuda grass, Zoysia and centipede grass should be mowed 1-2″.
Fescue- a cool season grass should be keep 3-4” during the summer and 2-3” during the winter.
Cutting grass too short results in…
- Reduced vigor
- Fewer roots
- More frequent cuttings
- Will require more water and fertilizers
- More weeds
- Less resistant to diseases and insect attacks
- Root deeper and tolerate drought better
- Cool the soil and reduce evaporation
- Shade weed seeds from sun so they don’t germinate
Summer Lawn Mowing Tips: If you are growing cool-season grasses, it is a good idea to raise the height of cut during the heat of the summer. Cutting warm-season grasses low in the summer will improves quality. Prepare them for winter by raising the height in the fall.
Lawn Mowing Tip #2 – Cut Frequently
Cut your lawn frequently…before it gets too long.
Proper lawn mowing removes no more than 1/3 of the total length of the leaf blade.
The 1/3 Rule: Cut your lawn often enough so no more than 1/3 of the grass height is removed at any single cutting. For example, If your mowing height is 2 inches – mow the grass when it is 3 inches tall. You may have to mow every three to four days during the spring/early summer when the grass is actively growing. But only once every seven to 10 days when growth is slowed by heat, drought or cold.
Warm season grasses – such as zoysia or Bermuda grass – should be cut at lower heights. The more frequent you mow lawns that are maintained short the nicer they will look.
Mowing Tip #3 – Keep Your Blades Sharp
- Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades
- Sharp blades give your lawn a clean, manicured look.
- Dull blades tear, shred and bruise grass leaves instead of cutting them cleanly. The frayed leaves turn brown and then white, making your lawn look ugly.
- Cutting grass with dull mower blades increases water loss and leaves entrances for disease.
Mowing Tip #4 – Grasscycling: Let the Clippings Fall
Don’t bag the clippings! Leave them on your lawn to decompose naturally. Grass clippings decompose quickly and are a source of nutrients and organic matter. Did you know that about 30% of the nitrogen in your lawn fertilizer is removed with grass clippings?
Mowing Tip #5 – Protect Our Rivers and Lakes: Cleanup Clippings
Keep grass clippings on the lawn and out of streets, driveways and sidewalks. Sweep or blow them back into your yard. Grass clippings are full of nutrients – they are basically fertilizer – and when left on sidewalks, driveways or in the road they will wash into storm drains and find their way into our rivers and lakes.
How often should I water my lawn?
A general rule of thumb is to provide your lawn with 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, from irrigation or rainfall. A good way to check moisture penetration is to probe the soil with a screwdriver or similar object. How often you water will vary based on where you live and what type of soil you have. In order to conserve water and give grass just what it needs, it’ll help you to understand the factors that influence irrigation frequency.
Different grass types require different amounts of water. For example: Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, Zoysia and Centipede, thrive in warm conditions, developing deep root systems that make them better able to withstand drought. In general, warm-season grasses require 20 percent less water than cool-season types. A healthy lawn of tall fescue has a deep root system and the highest drought tolerance of cool-season turf types.
Different types of soil absorb and retain moisture differently.
- Sandy soil will absorb water quickly and needs less water.
- Loam soil will absorb water evenly without puddling or runoff
- Clay soil absorbs water slowly and can cause runoff when water is applied too quickly.
- Clay also holds water longer which makes it slower to dry out.
Different regions receive different amounts of rainfall and summer weather conditions, which influences irrigation needs. Grass needs the most water when heat, drought, low humidity, and high winds prevail.
There’s one other key when determining irrigation frequency. While all lawns need consistent moisture to remain green and healthy, newly planted lawns are in a critical stage for the first year. Don’t rely solely on rainfall to establish a healthy, deep root system – provide supplemental irrigation during the first year of growth.
Watering Without Waste
During the scorching hot months of summer, conservation is key when it comes to watering and lawn care. Here are a few tips to ensure that not a drop of water goes to waste when watering your lawn this summer.
Choose a SMART IRRIGATION SYATEM. For small lawns, try a hose-end sprinkler. Use a timer of some sort (even an oven timer will work) to help you remember to turn it off. With in-ground irrigation systems, use low-volume, low-angle sprinklers with heads that suit the size of the area you’re watering. Angle heads as low as possible to minimize evaporation. If you spot a fog or fine mist, system pressure is too high. Newer rotary nozzles (also called stream sprays or rotators) apply water slowly and evenly.
- Watch water distribution to ensure you’re not watering hard surfaces (causing runoff) or creating puddling on the lawn (applying too much water too quickly for soil to absorb).
- Tinker with timing. Add a smart timer that adjusts irrigation based on local weather conditions such as rainfall, temperature and even evapotranspiration rates. Water an hour or two before sunrise to minimize evaporation and take advantage of calmer winds. Time irrigation to avoid high water use hours in your household. Avoid night irrigation to prevent disease.
- Fine-tune the duration. Measure how much water your system releases by evenly spacing six (or more) straight-sided containers (such as tuna fish or cat food cans) in the area you’re watering. Run your irrigation system for 20 minutes. Measure the amount of water in individual cans, adding them and dividing by the number of cans to get an average. Multiply the average by three to determine how much water your system releases in an hour. You can also hire Legacy Group to preform a Irrigation Audit for you.
- Shorten cycles. With clay soils, slopes, and other areas where water runs off quickly, use short watering cycles and more of them on separate days to minimize runoff.
- Inspect the system. Two clues that valves need to be repaired or replaced are leaking sprinklers or water-filled valve boxes. Fix leaks or unclog heads according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Reset frequently. At least seasonally, reset your watering schedule. Check with your local water authority for recommended irrigation schedules based on records of average weather conditions.