Mowing Practices

Q: When mowing the lawn, should you bag or mulch?

A: By mulching grass clippings, you are keeping nutrients in the soil longer.  Many think it may contribute to the thatch layer since dead grass clippings may come up when you de-thatch, but is not necessarily causing the problem that are associated with thatch.  The grass clippings decompose and adds organic matter to the soil, increasing the availability of nutrients in the soil.  A significant amount of grass clippings would be needed for it to cause problems associated with thatch.

You want to avoid going more than 10 days, during the growing season, without mowing.  By the time two weeks comes around, there may be too much grass to mulch.  This would be the only time you want to bag.  You do not want clumps of grass clippings!  The clumps will smother out the grass underneath and could eventually kill grass.  Wet clumps will make matters worse!  Also, mowing when the grass is high, could lead to frayed ends of grass blades, making the lawn more susceptible to disease.

Q:  At what height should I mow?

A: Mowing height should be at a minimum of 3 inches (length of the grass blade).  Ideally, you want to be at 3.5 inches.  If more than 3.5 inches still looks neat and desirable, go for it!  Taller the grass blades, deeper the roots.  This will lead to a healthier lawn and it will increase durability.  It is a good idea to leave grass tall during hot and dry periods, as it will help prevent the lawn from burning up.  Be careful not to mow too short, especially on the edges.  Grass mowed too short can be burned up easily by the sun and most edges are surrounded by paving, which gives off even more heat.

Q: How often should my lawn mower blades be sharpened?

A: If you are only mowing one property and depending on the size, once a year should be plenty.  Cleaning and sharpening the lawn mower blades should be scheduled, at least, with the time of tune up to the mower.  When grass blades don’t get a clean cut, their end become frayed.  The split ends of the grass opens the door to disease and becomes weaker against other stresses.  In order to tell if the blades of the lawn mower need sharpening, look for frayed ends on the grass after a mowing.  Keep in mind, if you go a long time without mowing and grass gets long, this could lead to split ends as well.