Mowing your lawn
Mowing is the most time consuming maintenance practice related to lawn care but many aspects of mowing are misunderstood and performed incorrectly. Proper mowing practices play a vital role in helping to maintain a healthy, sustainable home lawn. Because lawns often look attractive after mowing,
it is easy to assume that grass thrives on mowing. In reality, mowing is a destructive process that injures the grass plant. Each mowing temporarily stops root growth, decreases carbohy drates, increases water loss, decreases water absorp tion by the roots, and creates entry routes for diseases. Sound mowing practices help minimize these stresses. This publication will answer the most common questions related to mowing your lawn:
• How often should I mow?
• What is the correct mowing height?
• Should I collect grass clippings?
• How do I stripe in my lawn?
• What maintenance does my lawnmower need?
The frequency of mowing should be based on the growth of the grass. As a general rule, mow as often as needed so that no more than one-third of the total leaf area is removed in a single mowing. For example, if you maintain a Kentucky bluegrass lawn at a 2-inch height,the lawn should be mowed when
the grass reaches 3 inches. Remov ing more than one-third can lead to scalping which decreases the aesthetic appearance of the lawn. More importantly, scalping reduces the reserve carbohydrates within the plants that are used to regrow shoots and leaf tissue after mowing. Depleting the carbohydrates
reduces the capability of the grass plant to withstand environmental stresses.
Shorter mowing heights also require more frequent mowing.
1. A lawn maintained at a 1-inch
2. height would have to be mowed every 2.5 days to remove only one-third of the above ground tissue, whereas a lawn maintained at 2 inches would not have to be mowed for 5 days.
A related topic is when to begin mowing in the spring and when to stop mowing in the fall. Often, the first mowing of the spring is helpful to remove dead leaf tissue on top of the grass canopy. Removing this excess tissue helps sunlight reach the live grass underneath and stimulates the lawn to begin actively growing.
The exact date to begin mowing varies and depends on geographic location, environmental conditions, and the type of grass species in the lawn. In general, mowing can begin after the ground has thawed, the grass regains a green color, and it slowly begins growing. Mowing should continue into the fall as long as the grass is actively growing.
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