Did you notice that the grass in your lawn is growing rapidly? This spring’s wet weather has had a big impact on growth. The rain has also made it tough to mow, so your grass may be getting pretty long.
This is a good time to review your mowing practices. They can make a big difference in how well your lawn performs.
Start with your mower
Next time you haul your mower out of the garage, take a good look.
Is the blade sharp? A dull blade will tear the grass instead of making a clean cut. Clean cuts reduce the chance of disease potential and brown tipping. See our recent post on red thread. If it’s not sharp, take it to a lawnmower shop. You can also sharpen it yourself. Here is a video from This Old House with instructions on how to sharpen a mower blade.
Is the mower clean? You should clean the blade regularly. Use alcohol wipes or a spray bottle with a diluted bleach solution.
What is the height setting? See mowing height recommendations below.
Do you need that grass catcher? It is better for your lawn’s health to mulch mow, leaving clippings on the lawn. Mulch mowing adds to organic matter, keeping your soil healthy. It supplies nutrients, reducing fertilizer needs. And it does not contribute to thatch when mowed properly.
Mowing height recommendations
3” – Perfect Height – To develop and maintain a strong, robust and healthy lawn. Lawn will develop and maintain a deep, healthy root system and excellent color.
2” – Almost There – Color and growth will be average to poor. Setting mower up to 2.5” to 3” cutting height will improve the strength and color of your turf.
1” – Too Low – Root system will disintegrate and lawn will become susceptible to disease, drought, heat, cold and stress. Raise the mower height!
Early Spring – We recommend the first cut to be at 1.5” to 2” then raise the blade to the regular setting.
2.5” to 3” is the ideal mowing height for most grass types.
Mow frequently. If you mow every 4 to 5 days instead of every 7 days, mowing time can be reduced up to 38% when you don’t bag your clippings.
Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade when mowing. This will prevent lawn shock and browning.
What if your lawn is wet?
It is best to wait until the next dry day. Rain tends to weigh down grass so it bends over. This makes it tough to get a straight cut. Wet grass also clumps inside your mower and on your lawn.
If you need to mow the grass while it’s still wet, raise the mowing height and mow slowly. This will reduce the load on the lawn mower. You may need to stop periodically and clean out the clogs.
Rake up any clumps of grass on the lawn. Or give them a day to dry out and run the mower over them to break them up.
After you have finished mowing, hose the mower down and leave it in a ventilated area to dry.
What if your lawn has grown too long?
As we said above, you should never cut off more than one-third of the height of the grass when you mow. If you reduce the height too quickly, the grass will send all of its energy into growing grass blades. The roots won’t develop as well.
If your lawn has gotten too long, begin by measuring the length of the grass blades with a ruler or yardstick. Divide that number by three. Set your mower to the height that will remove one-third of the length of the grass blades. Mow your lawn.
Wait a couple of days to mow again. This time, reduce the length of the grass blades by one-third. Repeat until the grass is the right height, about 2-1/2 to 3 inches.
Even if you usually mulch mow, you should rake up the too-long clippings. They will form unsightly clumps of dead grass. They may also be too long to filter down into the grass and break down.