Mowing Tips

Mowing is pretty simple. There are a certain set of rules you follow and that’s it. It is pretty cut and dry, pardon the pun. However, watering rules are not so easy. Since I have already covered mowing heights under “Our Choice Lawns” this section is to give you rules of mowing. It is best not to use a rider mower. The wider the deck on a rider mower the more likely it is to scalp areas.  The lawn may be contoured and you might be using a deck that is 60 inches wide. A wide flat deck over a contoured area will leave some areas too tall and other areas too low. Next, generally people on riding mowers are in a hurry and they cut too fast. Cutting too fast causes the grass blades to be torn instead of cutting evenly so if you ride, mow slowly giving the mower time to mow instead of tearing. When grass blades are torn, the grass turns brown after mowing. Also, because of their size, riding mowers generally have to take the same path week after week. Over time the weight of the mower compresses the soil and you can actually stand in the yard and tell exactly where the riding mower travels. That’s not good for the soil or the lawn. Changing directions when you mow is important. You don’t want to create a “nap” in the grass causing it to lay over in the direction that you mow every week. To avoid this you change directions. One week you mow East to West, the next week you mow North to South, the third week you mow at a diagonal and the 4th week you mow at an opposite diagonal.

Rule Number One

Is that a walk behind mower is better for you and better for your lawn. Also, part two of the first rule is to mow in different directions. With all the negatives I just gave you about riding mowers, I know many of you have riding mowers. I have one too. I'm just saying, you will not get the best job out of a riding mower. Be sure to mow slow and with sharp blades.

Rule Number Two

Partially covered above, mow slowly. No matter what kind of mower you use, mow slowly. I have purchased walk behind mowers in the past that were 3 speeds. The first slowest speed was so fast that I have no idea what the other two faster speeds were for.

Rule Number Three

Is to mow low. Bermuda and Zoysia should be mowed at one inch or less March through August and two inches September through February. The best way to mow really low is to use a mower called a Reel Mower. A gasoline self propelled Reel Mower can mow at heights of 1/16th of an inch and lower, just like a golf green. They have 7 or 9 spinning blades that cut like scissors, so no more tearing. However, most people don’t have and are not interested in buying a Reel Mower. The majority of you own a Rotary Mower. Most Rotary Mowers on their lowest setting mow at about one inch. Tall grass lies over and suffocates the grass underneath. Also, grass likes to be mowed low and weeds hate it. Most weeds like to grow tall. So frequent low mowing will discourage most weeds. Mowing too tall causes a multitude of problems. Insects like to hide in tall grass and tall grass stays wet too long allowing fungus to breed. Tall grass lies over and suffocates the grass underneath. So be sure to mow slow and mow low.

Rule Number Four

Is to bag your clippings. Bagging is very, very important. I know it is easy to find contradicting information that says mulching is good for the lawn, that the grass clippings break down and adds fertility to the soil. Just answer me this one question. If the grass clippings break down, why then when it rains do grass clippings float to the top of my lawn and make “dams” as the water moves across my lawn? And I bag!!! Think how many clippings there would be if I didn’t bag! I have seen grass clippings accumulate in lawns that are not bagged to the point that they start to suffocate the lawn. When it rains, rain water or irrigation water runs off the top of the grass clippings and down the street like water off a ducks back. When grass clipping accumulate, fertilizer and pre-emergence can’t reach the root zone. When grass clippings accumulate insects have a place to hide and breed and fungus has a place to grow and multiply. Please bag your clippings. In addition, be sure you are using a vacuum type blade, not a mulching blade. A mower such as a Honda does the best job bagging. They are available at Advanced Mower, 428-1546.

Rule Number Five

Is to mow frequently. Mow at least once a week, every 5 days would be better. Mowing frequency will really depend on how warm the weather is, how much you water and how much you fertilize. Some people with a Reel Mower will mow every 2nd or 3rd day. It is bad for the lawn to mow every ten to 14 days.

Rule Number Six

Is referred to as the 1/3rd rule. The 1/3rd rule states that you should not mow any more than 1/3rd of your grass blade off at any one time. Some lawn care companies have argued with me that this is the reason they raise their mower. Well, if they followed the above rules of mowing low and mowing frequently, they would never have to raise their mower.

It is important to mow frequently so that you are not mowing off too much grass with one mowing. This is the main reason that lawns turn brown after mowing. People then think they are mowing too low so they raise their mower so the lawn won’t turn brown. By the end of the mowing season they are mowing 4 to 5 to 6 inches tall.

Rule Number Seven

Keep your blade sharp. Again, lawns turning brown after mowing are caused by several factors, one a dull blade; two, mowing too fast; three, not mowing frequently enough and therefore; four, mowing off too much at once time. Blades should be sharpened after every 3rd or 4th mowing.