Regular Mowing Is Important
Many folks strive to grow a beautiful lawn. Pride in your lawn or simply the enjoyment of being outside are two very good reasons to mow your grass. But did you know that mowing your lawn and mowing it correctly has a significant impact on the health of your turf and in turn the way your lawn looks. The two easiest (and inexpensive) tips to remember are: Mow your lawn at the correct height and the correct periodicity, and use sharp lawn mower blades.
Proper Mowing Height and Periodicity
Here in Eastern North Carolina the preferred grass type is warm season grasses, such as Bermuda, St Augustine, Centipede and Zoysia. Cool season grasses like fescues can be planted in certain areas, but the level of attention required in maintaining a healthy cool season lawn is most often not worth the fight in this area. Drive around and note the number of brown lawns. The vast majority of those lawns are not ‘dead’. They are simply warm season lawns that have fallen dormant for winter.
In general warm season grasses should be cut between 1 and 3 inches. During the peak of the growing season, grass should be cut every week. For warm season grasses that’s typically between July and September. By mowing more often, you reduce thatch by minimizing the amount of grass blade you remove from the plant each time you mow. A general rule of thumb is never cut more than 1/3 off of the total length of the established blade of grass. For cool season grasses, including Fescue or Kentucky Blue grass, active growth occurs during spring and fall. The rule of thumb for cool season grass height is between 2.5 -4. In some cases 4.5 or 5 may be advisable.
Sharpen Those Lawn Mower Blades
Sharp lawn mower blades are critical in preventing disease in the lawn. This is even more important during those hot, mid-summer months. Dull blades basically shred the top of the grass blade making the plant more susceptible to pests and disease. The sharper the blade the cleaner the cut and the faster the plant heals. A dull blade will also make the lawn lose some of its green vibrancy due to the condition of the blade tips throughout the lawn.
Sharpening lawn mower blades is a relatively easy job. However, if you don’t have the tools, know how, or desire to do it yourself, you can always take them down to your local lawn care store and ask them to do it for you or you can simply buy new blades.
To sum it up
Identify the type of grass that you have and contact your local lawn care provider or state cooperative extension to determine the exact height to cut your grass. Then simply set your blade height and forget it. During the heavy growing season, cut your lawn more often and only remove 1/3 of the total length of existing grass blade. And finally, sharpen those blades often. For most homeowners, sharpening once or twice a month is acceptable.