Mowing is the most time consuming lawn maintenance practice, but it is not without its merits. The primary purpose of mowing a lawn is to improve its appearance. Proper mowing technique, equipment, frequency and height will improve the quality of a lawn while also increasing the health of the turf grass plants and decreasing weeds.
Below are some tips from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture for mowing your lawn this summer.
- Mow often enough – to avoid removing more than one-third of the grass blade height per cutting. In other words, if your mower is set at 3 inches, mow before your lawn reaches 4.5 inches high.
- Mow your lawn high – In general, mowing turf at higher mowing heights helps increase overall plant health and reduce weed pressure. Mowing below this range will cause a rapid decline in turf health and an increase in weeds. Tall fescue and St. Augustine grass perform best at mowing heights of approximately 3.0 inches. Bermuda grass and zoysia grass perform well at lower mowing heights. They can be mown at a height of 1.0 to 2.0 inches with a rotary mower or 0.5 to 1.0 inches with a reel mower. Within species, some cultivars tolerate lower mowing more than others. In general, finer-bladed cultivars and species tolerate lower mowing heights.
- Keep the blades sharp – Sharply-cut leaf blades increase turf health by improving recovery, decreasing water loss and increasing photosynthesis. Lawns mown with a dull mower blade have poor aesthetics, heal more slowly and have greater water loss.
- Recycling Clippings Saves Time and Work – A study conducted in Fort Worth, Texas, found that 147 homeowners who quit bagging their clippings mowed 5.4 times per month versus 4.1 times when they bagged clippings but saved an average of 35 minutes per mowing by not bagging clippings. After six months of returning clippings, these homeowners saved an average of seven hours of yard work, even though they mowed more often. There are special mulching mowers on the market, but they are not necessary for recycling clippings.
- Don’t Mow Drought-Stressed Turf – During hot and dry conditions in the summer, your lawn will not actively grow. During periods when your lawn is not actively growing, it is best not to mow your lawn. Mowing a lawn when it is under drought stress should be avoided since this can damage a lawn.
- Be safe – Each year approximately 70,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for mowing-related injuries, and unfortunately, more than 9,000 of those injuries are to children under the age of 18. Use caution when mowing your lawn.
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