by Mark Wolfe
A great looking lawn is the keystone of a great looking landscape. Whether you have a postage stamp sized lot or acres of grass, proper mowing is the surest way to maintain a lush, healthy stand of turf grass. There are three facets of proper mowing: height, frequency and equipment; but before you mow you must know what type of grass you have. Your local garden center expert or Master Gardener can help you identify your turf grass. (see the selection on gas-free WORX mowers here)
Mowing Height, In Inches, For Average Growing Conditions
Warm Season Grasses
- Bermuda 1 to 1.5
- Centipede 1 to 2
- St. Augustine 2 to 3
- Zoysia 1 to 2
Cool Season Grasses
- Kentucky Bluegrass 2 to 3
- Fine Fescue 2 to 3
- Tall Fescue 2 to 3
- Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 3
Lawns that are stressed by heat, drought or shade should be cut a little higher. When hot or dry conditions subside, gradually lower the height over the course of several mowings, rather than all at once. Warm season grasses benefit from raising the height before fall dormancy, to provide extra winter insulation; and cutting extra low (once) just prior to spring green-up, to remove excess brown foliage. Cool season grasses should not be left extra long through winter due to the potential for matting over winter, which can lead to snow mold and infestation by meadow voles.
For optimum growth and minimal shock, lawns of all types should be mowed often enough to remove no more than ¼ to ⅓ of the height of the grass each time. For example a lawn that is maintained at two inches should be cut when it is not taller than three inches because one inch, or ⅓ of the overall height will be removed. A lawn maintained at three inches, should be mowed when it is no taller than 4 ½ inches, so that no more than ⅓ of the height is removed. Maintaining the lawn at a taller height allows a bit more flexibility in mowing frequency whereas a shorter lawn will require cutting more often.
A sharp blade is the most important equipment requirement for a great looking lawn. Sharpening the blade yearly is sufficient in average conditions. A dull blade will tear, rather than cut the grass. The resulting ragged edges are not only unsightly, but may increase the potential for fungal disease.
Mulching and discharging the clippings are safe, easy ways to recycle nutrients. Doing so can help reduce fertilizer applications. Bagging is helpful if the lawn is thatch-laden, if weeds are a problem, or if fall leaves have dropped heavily onto the lawn.
Forget the gas and mow your lawn with a battery-powered or electric WORX mower!