Mowing for a Healthier Lawn
Posted: April 10, 2013
since mowing is the most frequent lawn chore, proper technique is important for a healthy lawn.
- Proper mowing helps to reduce the spread of weeds, conserve water, and decrease the need for fertilizer by promoting a healthy thick lawn that shades out weed seeds and helps keep the soil cooler.
- A sharp mower blade is the first step to proper mowing. A sharp blade produces a cleaner cut and doesn’t tear or shred the ends of the grass, The blade should be kept sharp throughout the mowing season, which may mean sharpening multiple times depending on the amount of mowing, the species of grass, and the debris which is encountered.
- Mowing height is also important. For most of this region’s cool season grasses, the mower should be set to about three inches in sunny areas and up to four inches in the shade.
The key to maintaining the proper grass height is mowing at the proper frequency. The basic guideline is “the one-third rule,” in which no more than one-third of the grass’s length should be removed. For instance, if the grass should be maintained at 3 inches, it should be cut when it is about 4 ½ inches. Because of this rule, it is difficult to mow on a set schedule. It may be necessary to mow more often than once a week, especially during the spring and fall when grass is growing most rapidly. When grass is mowed following the one-third rule, there is rarely a need to remove the grass clippings. It is a common misconception that clippings contribute to excessive thatch. Instead, the clippings, which are mostly water, easily break down providing nutrients to the lawn.
When mowing, alternate the mowing direction from one mowing to the next. This will reduce soil compaction from the mower wheels as well as prevent the grass from leaning in the direction of mowing. Try to reduce the number of turns and keep necessary turns wide which will help prevent damage to the turf.
And finally be sure to follow all of your mower’s safety instructions.
Article contributed by Jason Kilgore, Luzerne County Master Gardener