Summer is approaching, and your grass is going to start growing like wild!
If you’re having some problems maintaining a lush yard, maybe the way you’re mowing is the issue.
Check out these six mowing tips to cultivate healthy, vibrant grass this season:
1. Don’t Overwater
Running sprinklers during a hot summer can help your turf retain the moisture it needs to flourish, but there are quite a few drawbacks to overdoing it!
For starters, the more often you water your healthy grass, the more quickly it’ll grow. This means more mow jobs for you, as well as the risk of long-term damage to your turf, from compaction caused by your heavy mower to the stress on your blades from frequent cuts.
In addition, oversaturated lawns have their own set of problems (think musty smells and rot!). Wet lawns are more likely to develop mold or disease, invite troubling pests like mosquitoes and experience ruts from heavy lawn equipment sinking into soft dirt.
Be sure to water infrequently but deeply this summer. This promotes deeper root systems and stronger turf which results in needing to water less! Not sure how to properly water your yard? Check out our post on hydrating your turf.
2. Beware of “Scalping”
Scalping is a term for cutting your grass too short, much like exposing your landscape’s bare scalp!
Cutting your grass low leaves your turf vulnerable and exposed. Thick grass blocks certain pests and diseases from affecting your blade’s root system. Not only is grass that’s less than two inches tall more likely to let in weeds or grubs, but it also means you’ll need to use more herbicides and pesticides, which if used in excess can affect your lawn’s vibrancy and long-term health.
Grass that’s cut very short can cause damage to the crown of your blades, an essential part of the structure of your grass. Crown damage can take a full season to recover from, during which your yard will be under a great deal of stress.
Remember, your grass blades are just like the leaves on a plant— they absorb nutrients from the sun. A shorter blade means less surface area to undergo photosynthesis, so always be sure to leave your grass at about three inches tall or higher.
But wait you say, “I’m a golfer and the greens are always mowed very short without issue”. Keep in mind these are special varieties of grass meant to be cut short (Bentgrass) and they are maintained daily. Cutting your turf short once a week shocks it by removing more than ⅓ of the blade at a time.
3. Keep Your Blades Sharp
Just like you wouldn’t trust a dull pair of scissors to cut a clean line, you also can’t trust worn mower blades to create a neat lawn. Dull scissors pull at the material it’s trying to cut instead of creating a clean slice. You might not realize it, but dull mower blades can actually pull up on your grass and disturb their roots. Think too about how a clean cut on your skin usually heals faster than a jagged wound. Frayed grass invites diseases when left exposed.
It’s easy to forget to sharpen your mower blades; after all, they’re still spinning and technically getting the job done! But a quick sharpening can do wonders. As a rule of thumb, have your mower blades sharpened at the start of every “mowing season,” or every two months during the season. For our commercial mowers, we sharpen blades at least twice a week due to their usage.
4. Trim Weekly
We all wonder, “how often should I mow?” This question can vary greatly depending on the time of year it is, the amount of rainfall you receive, which type of grass you have, etc. but a good rule of thumb for Massachusetts homeowners is to mow once a week during the summertime.
Mowing more often can cause major stress to your grass blades, which use a lot of energy and resources to regrow— only to be hacked back down again before they can absorb adequate replacement nutrients from the sun! Too frequent of mows can also compact your soil, and affect the growth of your turf’s root systems.
Waiting too long to mow also has its downsides. In an effort to clip that tall grass, you might adjust your mower’s deck improperly and scalp your lawn, as we discussed above. Plus, cutting off a substantial portion of your grass can put your turf into panic mode, depleting resources it needs to recover and regrow. If you went on vacation and came back to two weeks of sky-high grass, take two to three passes over the course of a few days to get it back to normal height. Keep in the mind the rule of thumb is you never want to cut more than ⅓ of the blade at a time. So if you maintain a height of 3”, which we recommend you don’t want to get much above 4” before your next cut.
5. Take Your Time
When mowing more frequently, it can be tempting to rush the job. It’s certainly not fun spending every Sunday trimming your yard, and some homeowners like to zip around on their zero-turn, as if they’re on a race to get back inside and relax.
Quick mows can lead to sloppy cuts and missed patches. Plus, sharp turns can tear up your turf, causing rivets in your dirt that can compact or damage your root systems.
6. Skip the Bagging
When you mow your lawn, resist the urge to bag the clippings left behind. Some homeowners think it makes their turf look neat and clean, but you’re actually robbing your lawn of nutritious organic matter, which will eventually be broken down and reabsorbed by your soil. This leftover grass also helps your turf to better retain water.
There are only two instances where you should pick up your clippings. Firstly, if you waited too long to mow and didn’t listen to our advice to mow incrementally to get it back to the proper height. Dense piles of cut grass can smother your grass and stop your turf from absorbing the sun, or collect too much moisture and over-soak your terrain.
Secondly, it’s okay to collect your clippings to add to your compost! Mixed with right nutritious table scraps and brown matter, your trimmings can make one mean fertilizer, which you can spread across your lawn for an extra mineral punch! Learn more about the power of “grasscycling”.
Maintain a Brag-Worthy Landscape
There’s nothing more rewarding than a clean lawn to enjoy on a sunny afternoon. But even the sharpest of lawns can do little to help a messy landscape.
Our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal can help with that! It includes six ways to instantly increase your property and home value, like adding lighting, plant life and more.
Not sure you want to do this all by yourself? That’s understandable. Take back your weekend! Our team is here to lend a hand with all your turf care needs. We’ll ensure you have that green, neat lawn you desire.