Mowing Best Practices
Lawn mowing plays an important role in maintaining a beautiful well-groomed lawn.
Cutting height, frequency and direction of mowing, and mulching all play key roles in promoting the health of your lawn. As part of the Lawns of Southern NH seasonal application program, our experts suggest the following procedures:
- Spring/Fall - 2-3" high
- Summer Stress Periods - 3.5" high
- End of season mowing - 2” high
Higher mowing heights during the summer period will help keep soil temperatures down, preserve soil moisture, and help maintain turf grass quality.
Your lawn should be mowed frequently enough so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade length is removed during any one mowing. For example, if Kentucky bluegrass is normally mowed at 2" above ground level, the turf grass should not be allowed to grow higher than 3" before the next mowing.
The direction of mowing should be altered every one to two times. Mowing at right angles to the previous direction will help to prevent the grass from laying over in one direction and will also minimize the possibility of scalping in which bare soil is exposed in an area.
Bagging versus Mulching
Research shows that a nitrogen loss of roughly 30% occurs when the grass clippings are bagged and thrown away. Nitrogen is a macronutrient that keeps your lawn green all season long. Contrary to popular belief, turf grass clippings do not contribute to thatch accumulation.
Drought Stress (July-August)
While drought stress is mainly associated with the heat of summer, it can also occur during other seasons.
Detecting Drought Stress
In New Hampshire, even a week or two without rain can stress a lawn while overwatering can promote the growth of turf diseases. In addition, ineffective watering wastes water. The best way to conserve water and avoid disease problems associated with overwatering is to water just before the development of wilting and drought stress.
How do you know when your lawn needs to be watered?
Turf grasses undergo a series of visible changes when they begin to wilt. One indication is when your footprints remain visible for several minutes after you have walked on your lawn. In contrast, hydrated grass will spring back immediately. Another sign is the development of bluish-green areas of discoloration. Both of these symptoms mean that your lawn should be watered immediately in order to prevent drought stress from occurring.
Recommended Watering Practices
Watering deeply and less frequently provides for improved turf growth and increased water conservation. You want your lawn to dry out completely between watering events in order to prevent the growth of moisture-loving harmful fungi. Nighttime watering is not recommended since it has been shown to promote lawn diseases.
Water can only be taken up by the root systems of the turf grass. Water has to soak down several inches into the soil before the roots can access this moisture. Therefore, a light watering simply makes the grass blades wet. The time of day is also important, the optimal being early morning. While the theory that summer daytime wetting of grass blades can lead to scorching has been disproved, the fact remains that evaporation rates rise with temperature so that watering in the heat of the day is inefficient since much of it ends up as moisture in the atmosphere. Lawns require 1" of water per week, which can either be delivered in one watering event, like a significant rainfall, or from several regularly scheduled irrigation events.