Mowing lawns: Lawn care 101

Lawn care in Dickson, Tennessee

Dickson lawn and landscapeOne of the biggest problems homeowners have when it comes to mowing, is cutting the grass too low, or scalping. Each type of turfgrass has it’s very own height of cut that is ideal for it to grow and be healthy. Tall Fescue, should be cut at 3 to 4 inches. Most people cut it way to low. Use a ruler or tape measure to set your blade at a minimum of three inches while the mower sits on a hard, flat surface.

Remember: Never cut off more than one third of the grass during any single mowing. All too often, homeowners allow the grass get too high and then attempt to cut the long grass back to the same level of the previous mowing, resulting in too sudden a change for the grass. This usually stunts and shocks the grass into a state of reduced health & hardiness. Sometimes you’ll notice the grass turning yellow after a cut like this.

Tall Fescue grows at its best in the spring and fall, during which time you may have to mopw the lawn every 5 days or so just to keep up. With regular, proper mowing, the grass will appear increasingly vibrant and lush as the lawn becomes healthier and thicker. Frequent cutting encourages tillering (spreading out) of fescue. Fescue does not spread laterally on the ground like bermuda grass, but rather it gets wider by each grass blade branching (tillering) to cover a wider area.

Bermuda grass can be cut much lower than fescue. It has a preferred cut height of about 1 to 2 inches. to a large degree, the proper cut height depends on how smooth the lawn is. If there are humps and dips in your lawn, you won’t be able to cut the grass quite so low. Bermuda grass is used extensively on golf courses and is routinely cut as low as 1/2 inch. You must have a perfectly smooth lawn to be able to cut this low without chucking some dirt.

More: Types of lawn grasses

Do your part for the environment by recycling when you mow. ‘Grasscycling’ — leaving grass clippings on the lawn :: saves time, landfill space, and nurtures the soil, according to the Professional Lawn Care Association of America. “Yard waste bans are in place in many areas of the country,” says Michael Gaffney, PLCAA’s technical resource specialist. “Grasscycling is an alternative to dumping and bagging, and enriches the soil for a healthier lawn.” Grass clippings are 85% water and return 20% of their nitrogen to the soil to feed the lawn’s root system. They decompose rapidly and return nutrients to the soil with no thatch buildup. Grasscycling can be practiced year-round with most mowers.

When you mow, follow the one-third rule: mow often enough to cut only one-third of the grass plant in any one mowing. Cut the grass when dry and keep the lawn mower blade sharpened.

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