In general, taller mowing heights result in healthier grass that is better able to resist drought and limit the occurrence of weeds. The mowing height also depends on the turfgrass species and environmental
Four turfgrass species are primarily used in Iowa lawns.They include Ken tucky bluegrass, fine fescue,perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. Perennial ryegrass and the fine fescues can be mowed slightly
shorter compared to Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue Increase the mowing height of cool-season species during the stressful summer months. Taller mowing heights insulate the crown of the plant
against high temperatures, provide more leaf area thereby increasing photosynthesis, and encourage deeper root systems to obtain more water. These practices help enable the lawn to withstand periodic
high-temperature and drought conditions. The height may be lowered in the fall when the temperatures cool and more consistent rainfall returns. The recommended range in mowing heights also reflects cultivar differences within a species. For instance, many common Kentucky bluegrass cultivars have more erect growth habits compared with newer cultivars. Similar differences also apply to perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. For more information about selecting grass species, see PM 1578,Grass Selection for Iowa Lawns.
Mowing below the recommended range can scalp the turf and lead to rapid deterioration of turfgrass quality .
Excessively close mowing heights decrease the total leaf area, carbohydrate reserves, and root growth thereby creating a situation where the plants are unable to produce enough food to meet their
own demands. This makes the plants more susceptible to drought, high temperature, and wear injury. In addition, the bare areas created by a decrease in lawn density increase the chances of weed problems.
Turfgrasses also can be mowed too high. Mowing above the recommended ranges reduces tillering and causes matting of the grass. Reduced tillering results in fewer and coarser plants, while matted grass
creates a microenvironment that encourages disease development.
A common misconception about grass clippings is that they contribute to thatch. The truth is that grass clippings contribute very little to thatch development because clippings are primarily cellulose and
decompose easily. Therefore, removing grass clippings to control thatch is ineffective.
The need to remove grass clippings depends on mowing frequency. Regular mowing eliminates the need to collect grass clippings. In fact, grass clippings returned to the yard release nutrients back into the soil and can reduce fertilizer applications. Only in situations where clippings fail to filter into the turf canopy should they be removed.
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