To the uninitiated, mowing a lawn may seem like a matter of aesthetics, just a way to make your yard looked trimmed and even. But ineffective mowing can actually cause damage, stressing the grass and encouraging weeds and disease.
Check out these mowing techniques that not only make your lawn look great but also encourage a thicker thatch and more nutrient-rich soil.
Maintain Your Mower
Mowing your lawn is stressful for the grass, but you can make it less so by sharpening your blades. Sharp blades cut cleanly while dull blades make a mash out of grass tips. Clean and sharpen your blades at the beginning of the season as well as in the mid-summer. Do it more often if you have a large yard.
Mowing Height Matters
Mowing acts by cutting off the tips of grasses, where the plant is growing. The grass reacts by sending out new shoots, thickening the turf to the carpet-like surface favored in most suburban yards.
But since the chopped area was also responsible for providing food for the rest of the plant through photosynthesis, mowing reduces food production for the roots. The more you cut off, the more stress on your lawn.
Best mowing height practices include:
• Checking and adjusting your lawnmower’s mowing height based on the height of the grass. Try not to cut off more than one-third of blade height.
• Mowing less frequently and with higher mowing heights during high-stress, low-growth times such as during droughts or hot summers.
• Adjusting to a higher mowing height when you miss a week or two, even though the grass is very high. It’s better to repeat the mow some days later to get your lawn back to a reasonable height rather than cut off a large portion of the active food-making part all at once.
• Adjusting your mow height based on your lawn grasses. For Bluegrass, that’s 2 to 2 1/2 inches, fescue is at 2 to 3 inches, and ryegrass is at 1 1/2 to 2 inches
Mow When Dry
Moisture from dew or rain lies upon blades of grass and bends them over. Mowing the lawn when your yard is damp will make it likely you’ll cut the grass in the middle rather than at the tip. It’ll also gunk up the blades, making them less effective. Best to mow when the ground is dry, when the grass stands up straight.
Bagging Is Bunk
Bagging grass clippings is like taking food away from a hungry baby. Why remove so much fresh organic matter from your lawn when, by leaving the cuttings, you can add a bit of mulch to suppress weeds as well as nutrients to feed your soil?
So long as you’re not doing a heavy cut, ditch the bagging. The clippings will shrivel quickly and settle between the grasses. Just be sure not to leave behind any clumps.