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Proper Mowing

Proper mowing and lawn maintenance are two of the most important activities in determining the health of turf grass — and proper mowing does not simply mean cutting the yard regularly. Below are some tips for proper mowing and maintenance.

When you mow, only remove the top third of the grass blade — mowing a lawn lower than this level is referred to as scalping, and scalping the lawn removes the protective leaf blade of the grass. The grass blade offers cover for the roots and runners, which can be damaged from exposure to traffic, sun, insects, and drought. Scalping the lawn also encourages shallow root growth, and turf grass with shallow roots cannot easily withstand drought conditions. Mowing a lawn too low can also result in weed infestations because you are left with a weaker turf stand, and there is nothing to inhibit the germination of weed seeds in a weak stand.

It is also important to bag the clippings every time you mow when weeds or disease are present. Returning the grass cuttings to the lawn when disease is present only spreads the fungus over the lawn. Likewise, if weeds are present, the weed seeds will be spread over the extent of the lawn every time you mow. Do not be fooled by mulching mowers — no mulcher, no matter how small, will destroy weed seeds in the mulching process. The elimination of weeds will never happen if clippings are not bagged and removed every time.

Finally, observe these rules to ensure a healthy lawn:

  • Alter your mowing pattern from time to time to avoid creating ruts.
  • Never mow a lawn that is drought-stressed or dry, as doing so will result in dead and damaged mower tracks throughout the lawn.
  • Never mow a lawn that is wet; this approach will result in torn grass blades and ruts.

Click here to see an important article about mowing by Duval County Extension Agent Erin Harlow.