Mowing Tips and Recommendations for Indianapolis Yards
If your goal is a thick, beautiful lawn that blocks out weeds and stands strong against disease. Mow tall and mow often. Spend time maintaining and mowing properly and you’ll spend less time fixing the issues that come along with taking shortcuts.
Recommended Mowing Height
The ideal mowing height for most Indiana lawns is between 3.5 to 4 inches. The benefits of mowing tall are numerous. Roots will grow deeper, improving drought tolerance. Tall turf provides better shade for the root system, conserving water, and blocking the growth of unwanted weeds. A longer grass blade provides more area for your lawn’s critical process of photosynthesis.
Recommended Mowing Frequency
Maintaining a proper frequency will help ensure that no more than 1/3 of the total grass blade is removed at one time. This is referred to as the One-Third Rule. Cutting off more than 1/3 of the overall blade causes stress on the plant and weakens your lawn’s defenses. Mowing correctly and maintaining the One-Third Rule will also save you from needing to bag your lawn clippings which is a great source of nutrients for your lawn.
Mowing with a sharp blade ensures a clean cut. Grass with ragged edges from a dull cut is more susceptible to disease and water loss. Sharpen your mower blades often. Preferable at least once in the spring and once in the fall.
Switch It Up
Switch up your direction with each cutting to encourage grass blades to stand straight. To minimize extra turns and backtracking, mow your lawn in rows.
Learn about the One-Third Rule from Cale Bigelow, Professor of Agronomy in the Turf Science Program at Purdue University: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=CU1XMub8yh8feature=youtu.be Get a Quote Today
Before you mow, take a walk through the yard to collect debris that may be thrown by the blade. These objects could be propelled causing serious bodily injury to you or anyone nearby (objects may also damage your mower or dull the mowing blade).
Choose the coolest time of day possible (morning or evening) to minimize heat stress for both you and your turf.
Mowing wet grass can get messy, but it also poses some soil and safety concerns as well. Don’t risk slipping on wet turf with the mower running. Additionally, the weight of the mower can cause soil compaction when it’s soggy, and wet grass is more resistant to the mower blade. The best bet is to allow the turf to dry sufficiently before you begin mowing.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: How often should I sharpen my mower blades?
A: Mowing with a sharp blade ensures a clean cut. Grass with ragged edges from a dull cut is more susceptible to disease and water loss. Sharpen your mower blades often. Preferable at least once in the spring and once in the fall.
Q: Should I mow in a pattern?
A: Switch up your direction with each cutting to encourage grass blades to stand straight. To minimize extra turns and backtracking, mow your lawn in rows.
Q: What is the best time of the day to mow the grass?
A: Choose the coolest time of day possible (morning or evening) to minimize heat stress for both you and your turf.
Q: Should I mow the grass when it is wet?
A: Mowing wet grass can get messy, but it also poses some soil and safety concerns as well. Don’t risk slipping on wet turf with the mower running. Additionally, the weight of the mower can cause soil compaction when it’s soggy, and wet grass is more resistant to the mower blade. The best bet is to allow the turf to dry sufficiently before you begin mowing.
Need additional help? The experts at Lawn Pride are here to answers all your questions. Call us at 317-251-6800
Kansas State University
From the human perspective, mowing is the most basic and time consuming of all turf maintenance activities. We generally mow turfgrasses for two reasons. The main reason for mowing most turfgrasses is to improve appearance. Mowing turf at appropriate heights and frequencies is a major component of a turf management scheme designed to develop a dense, actively growing, attractive turf. In addition, another reason for mowing turfgrasses is to produce recreational or sports playing surfaces. Many outdoor athletic or play activities, such as golf, tennis, lawn bowling, baseball, soccer, and football, take place on turf surfaces specifically mowed and managed to accommodate these activities.
Conversely, mowing is a destructive practice; it reduces turfgrass leaf area available for producing necessary plant metabolites and also opens leaves to disease entrance. In addition, when mowed too short, turf can become open, allowing weed invasion (especially annual weeds such as crabgrass or prostrate spurge). Finally, turf mowed too short often has poorly-developed root systems and reduced rhizome spread, which also contributes to the development of a thin, open turf.
Thus, for these reasons, it is important to find the balance that produces attractive, healthy turf in an efficient manner. To assist turf managers find the balance between turf and human needs, information about mowing height, mowing frequency, general mowing practices, handling clippings, and types of mowers requires consideration.
Mowing Height and Frequency
A neatly trimmed lawn is generally considered to be more attractive than one that is unkempt and shaggy. By mowing frequently and maintaining a uniform turf surface, a neat appearance can be achieved, even at taller heights. Unfortunately, however, a common perception is that a short turf is superior in appearance to tall turf. In reality, turf that is uniform appears neater than uneven turf, regardless of height. Proper height and frequency are the two most important aspects of a turf mowing program.
Mowing turf at the appropriate height is important to turf health and appearance. Turf cut too short usually has a shallow root system, lacks density, and often requires pesticide applications to stave off weed and pest infestations that commonly occur in stressed lawns. Conversely, tall turf is often considered to be unattractive because of wide leaf blades, low density, and a clumpy, unkempt appearance. In addition, tall turf may not be satisfactory for some sports applications.
Mow turfgrasses according to the heights presented in the table below. Note that a range is listed for each species. When healthy and actively growing, turf can be mowed at the lower heights; raise mowing heights within the desired range during warm-hot periods or when turf is stressed due to drought, disease, shade, insects, or traffic. The heights listed in this table provide a balance between turf appearance and health.
Suggested Mowing Heights for Commonly Used Turfgrass Species
Turf should be mowed as necessary, not according to a preset schedule. Turfgrasses grow at different rates depending on weather, management, and species. A basic recommendation is to remove no more than one-third of the grass blade at any one mowing. For example, Kentucky bluegrass being maintained at 2 inches should be mowed when it reaches 3 inches. This “one-third rule” will help maintain maximum turf root growth. Removing more than one-third of the grass blades may cause root growth to cease while the leaves and shoots are regrowing. This practice can be especially destructive if practiced continuously over a period of successive mowings. Roots may not have a chance to fully develop and the plants will thus be more susceptible to environmental and management stresses. Maintenance of healthy, growing turf root systems should be a primary consideration of any turf management program.
Other Mowing Recommendations
Removing over one third the height of the turf in one cutting and setting the mower at less than 2 inches has stressed this lawn and created noticeable brown areas.
Occasionally, personal schedules or weather conditions prevent turf mowing when it is needed. If this occurs, attempt to mow using the one-third rule. If turf is 6 inches tall, and the desired height is 2 inches, the first mowing should be at 4 inches, or at the highest setting nearest to 4 inches. Several days later, mow again by reducing the mowing height using the one-third rule. This mowing should be lower than 4 inches in height. Continue this pattern until turf is adjusted to the proper height.
Two other basic mowing recommendations are to maintain mower blade sharpness, and to mow when grass is dry. Dull blades tear turf leaving a ragged appearance. In addition, turf water loss and the incidence of turf diseases can be greater from ragged leaf edges than from cleanly cut grass leaves. Thus, cleanly cut turf generally looks better and is often healthier than turf with torn leaves. Also, mow when turf is dry. Wet turf may clog the mower or form clumpy masses on the turf’s surface.
In a lawn already being mowed at a low height, a slight depression caused an area of serious scalping.
When turf is cut excessively short, scalping can occur. Scalping can occur as the result of irregular land contours, excessive thatch, infrequent mowing, or poor mower adjustment. Scalped turf usually appears brown and stubbly due to the removal of healthy leaves and exposure of turf crowns, dead leaves, or even the bare soil. Avoid scalping turf as it can result in unattractive appearance, and in some cases, severely scalped turf may not recover.
Frequent and close mowing in the same direction or pattern can cause the turf shoots to lean in the direction of cut causing grain to develop. On closely clipped turf, such as a golf course putting green, grain is undesirable because it can alter the path of a putted ball. By altering the mowing pattern with each mowing, the turf shoots tend to grow more upright which reduces grain. In addition, altering the mowing pattern changes the position of the mower wheels or rollers at each mowing which can reduce excessive wear in the same location.
On taller turf, such as parks or home lawns, cutting in the same direction at each mowing is usually not a problem. Taller turfs are less prone to develop grain than are short mowed turfs and the turf use is generally not affected. If it is convenient, alter the mowing pattern in these areas at each mowing. In other areas (e.g., small gardens or sloping areas) use the most convenient or safest mowing pattern at each mowing.
Athletic turf managers sometimes use mowing patterns to provide visual interest for their fields. On these fields, the turf is mowed frequently in the same direction using reel mowers to provide striped or checked patterns. Football and baseball fields are often cut in this fashion.
First and Last Mowing of the Growing Season
The first and last mowing of the year are sometimes handled differently than other mowings. Before the grass begins to grow, in spring mow the turf slightly shorter than normal to remove dead blades and other debris. Be careful not to scalp turf during this initial mowing. Once turf begins active growth, mow at the proper height and frequency. The last mowing of the year should be at the normal mowing height. Turf should neither be cut excessively short nor allowed to become excessively long going into winter.
Mowing results in the production of grass clippings. There are several ways of dealing with clippings, but in general, clipping collection is not necessary, provided proper turf management occurs. Using the one-third rule of mowing is especially important when clippings are not collected because small leaf portions readily filter to the soil surface and decompose quickly.
Returning Clippings to the Turf
Returning clippings to the turf has several benefits. It obviously eliminates the need for disposal in landfills and also reduces the time and energy required to transport clippings to composting facilities. In addition, when clippings are returned to the turf, the consumer does not bear the cost of commercial composting.
When clippings are returned, a small quantity of organic matter and substantial quantities of mineral nutrients are returned to the soil, contributing to improved soil conditions. In one Colorado study, the annual quantity of nutrients produced in clippings from 1,000 square feet of highly fertilized Kentucky bluegrass turf was 5.7 pounds of nitrogen (N), 0.6 pounds of phosphorus (P), and 3.4 pounds potassium (K). Even when grown at very low fertility, 1,000 square feet of Kentucky bluegrass clippings annually yielded 1.0 pound N, 0.1 pound P, and 0.7 pound K. The result of returning clippings is that mineral fertilization can be reduced while still producing turf of high quality.
With regards to minerals, the benefits of returning clippings can occur quickly. When returned into a healthy turfgrass growing environment, clippings were found to release nutrients into soil in as little as 14 days in another study.
Not collecting clippings also saves time and expense. Mowing is not interrupted for emptying grass catchers. The Colorado study discussed earlier found that 1,000 square feet of highly fertilized Kentucky bluegrass yielded 529 pounds of clippings in one year. If clippings were collected, work stoppage would occur 22 times to empty a basket that accommodated 25 pounds of clippings.
Clippings and Thatch
Clippings are often thought to contribute to thatch build-up. This is not the case unless excessively long clippings are returned to turf. Thatch is composed primarily of turfgrass roots, crowns, rhizomes, sheaths, and stolons. These plant parts contain large amounts of lignin, a waxy substance that decomposes slowly. Turf clippings contain little lignin and are usually composed of at least 75 to 85% water. After drying, short clippings break down quickly. Clippings may, however, contribute to thatch when tall grass is mowed too short, resulting in large clippings. Mowing at proper intervals insures small clipping size and Rapid clipping breakdown.
There are four situations in which clipping collection is recommended. These situations include: (1) when clippings are long and thick; (2) when clippings interfere with the use of an area or a surrounding area; (3) when the potential for disease development is increased by returning clippings; and (4) when the mowing equipment in use necessitates collection. Unless one of these situations is encountered, returning clippings is recommended.
When turf is extremely tall, mowing will produce long clippings. Long clippings can contribute to thatch because they break down more slowly than short clippings, Also, long clippings on the turf surface can restrict light that is necessary for turf photosynthesis and can hold excessive moisture near turf which can cause disease invasion.
Excessive clippings on a lawn are unattractive and unhealthy for the turf.
Lifting this clump of clippings revealed a dead patch of grass beneath.
There are several ways of dealing with clippings if they are still visible on the turf surface 24 hours after mowing. By re-mowing the turf, the clippings will be re-cut and reduced in size. This will also redistribute the smaller clippings and allow them to filter to the ground. Another way to move and disperse clippings is by waving a long pole or garden hose through clumps of clippings.
Collecting clippings for composting or mulching is another alternative when long clippings remain on the turf surface after mowing. When collected for mulch or compost, try to air-dry clippings before use. Avoid using clippings recently treated with herbicides. It has been recommended that herbicide-treated clippings not be composted for at least three mowings following application
Reel and rotary mowers are the two most commonly used types of mowers. Either of these mowers can produce acceptable results provided mowers are well-maintained and proper mowing practices are followed. The following table compares characteristics of these two types of mowers.
The rotary mower is commonly used to cut home lawns.
The reel mower is a good choice when shorter mowing heights are desired.
Comparison of Rotary and Reel Mower Characteristics
Conventional mowers designed to discharge small clippings back to the turf often produce turf of acceptable quality. Reports vary regarding the need for mulching mowers. According to some reports, mulching mowers work well, while others indicate that mulching mowers can be difficult to operate if turf is long or wet. A study conducted at the University of Illinois determined there was no benefit to using a mulching mower, as compared to using a conventional rotary mower, provided mowing frequency and nitrogen rates were appropriate for the turf in use.
Mow frequently at the recommended height using the one-third rule. Maintain blade sharpness, mow when turf is dry, and return clippings to produce the best quality, most healthy turf possible.
Mowing Height Debate: Last Mow of the Season Low?
There has long been a debate on the best height to cut the grass when it comes to the final mowing of the lawn before winter. Some say it should be cut lower than normal. Others say it should be cut the same height as usual. We’ll examine both sides of this mowing height debate and let you decide whether the last mow of the season should be lower or at the normal height.
Why Some Say Yes
When it comes time to make you final mow of the season, the argument goes, trim low:
- It prevents the laying over of grass during the winter.
- It helps prevent snow mold (a fungus that occurs under the cover of snow) by denying it the long, wet grass it needs to develop. The principal snow mold diseases are Microdochium patch, Coprinus snow mold, Typhula blight, and snow scald.
- It is an organic way to fight fungal growths of winter, no fungicides required. It should be followed by mowing low with the first cut of spring.
Mowing Tall Overgrown Grass on Labor Day
- There is less growth that needs to be pushed aside by new grass in spring.
- It discourages meadow mice. The furry pests, also called voles, leave tunnels in your lawn you won’t find until after the snow cover melts.
- Aesthetics: “A lawn just looks neater if it has that close cut before the snow settles down,” writes respected New York Times gardening columnist Joan Lee Faust.
- Allows more sunlight to reach the soil, which means warmer soil temps and an earlier green-up in spring.
- Removes dead grass blades and debris
- A natural way to encourage healthier grass, avoiding the use of chemicals
- Reduces thatch levels
Those making the argument recommend these guidelines:
- Instead of following the one-third rule, cut the lawn by half. So instead of going from 4 inches deep to 2 ½, go from 4 inches tall to 2 inches.
- Be careful not to cut it too low; those low patches will die before spring
- Mow until all the leaves have fallen from the trees
- Mow until the grass has stopped growing for the year.
Why Some Say No
Setting mowing height too low can damage your lawn, other experts say:
- Keep it normal when it comes to mowing height. Turf should neither be cut short nor left long going into winter.
- The root systems become shorter and smaller, limiting the grass’ ability to pull in water and nutrients from the soil. This is because there is a direct relationship between the grass height and the amount of roots it can maintain. Lowering that grass height is the direct cause of the lessened root system.
- Mowing too close allows sunlight to reach weeds that otherwise would have been covered by the canopy.
- Low mowing reduces the area available for photosynthesis, which takes away from the vigor of the lawn.
- Aesthetics: Lawns “look much better” when they are higher (take that, lovers of short grass), according to the University of Illinois Extension.
The One-Third Rule: Learn It
For most of the year (with the possible exception of the last mow) the One-Third Rule is sound advice. The One-Third Rule says never remove more than one-third of your grass on any cutting.
Adhere to the one-third rule, and cut your grass down in increments. This will reduce the amount of stress you put on the grass as it grows throughout the year.
Mowing Heights by Type of Grass
The University of Minnesota Extension Service says homeowners should keep mowing grass at the proper mowing height until it stops growing. Follow these proper mowing heights for healthy grass during spring, summer, and fall.
“With cool-season turf grasses like the blue grasses, rye grasses, and tall fescue, I recommend mowing at the same height that has been done through the summer and fall,” says Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., professor at the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. “The key thing is to keep mowing until you no longer are taking off clippings.”
The University of Missouri Extension recommends that cool-season grasses should be mowed at the same height “until growth stops” before winter.
The University of Nebraska Extension agrees, stating, “Never remove more than one-third of the total canopy height at one time,” even as you prepare for winter.
Warm-season grasses such as Zoysia and St. Augustine might benefit from a little more length, but should be kept within the recommended height range, according to the University of Tennessee Extension: “Higher mowing heights within the preferred mowing height range for a particular species favor the development of strong roots and rhizomes.”
Bermudagrass is not shade-tolerant and is intended to be cut shorter (as short as one inch), according to the University of Clemson Extension.
“On warm-season turfgrasses like Bermudagrass, I would begin to raise the mowing height up a little,” says Danneberger. “This would be especially important in the more northern region of its adaptation going into fall. A slightly higher height of cut will enhance the plant’s ability to tolerate winter injury a little better. Also…mowing short going into winter may inhibit fall photosynthetic activity.”
Put Proper Mowing Practices First
Tired of all the minutiae? Keep this in mind: Good lawn care practices matter more than trying to get your grass height within a millimeter of some golf-course ideal.
- Keep a mowing frequency that never lets the grass get too tall. You want to hit that balance between encouraging root growth (good) and encouraging weed heads to seed (bad).
- Leave your grass clippings in the lawn as mulch. Mulching beats bagging because the cut grass blades return valuable nitrogen to the soil.
- Vary your mowing pattern. Grass leans in the direction of the lawn mower, so it eventually becomes uneven. Mowing in a different direction also prevents you from wearing ruts into the lawn. That’s a particular issue for heavy riding mowers.
- Sharpen lawn mower blades regularly. Dull blades damage lawn grasses, as they pull and shred rather than cut.
Once the grass stops growing, winterize that lawn mower before turning your attention to the leaf blower or snow plow. Your lawn will high-five you with spring green.
You should never mow your lawn in winter if you can help it, as you could damage the dormant grass. However, if you absolutely must mow during winter, do so when the grass is dry and frost is not anticipated for at least 48 hours.
Keep on mowing until the grass stops growing. For most places, the rule of thumb is that it comes when temperatures during the day fall below 50 F, usually late in October.
Yes, mowing low helps prevent snow mold and excessive thatch, both of which contribute to disease in the lawn.
Yes, cutting wet grass isn’t recommended. There aren’t many days available at the end of the year to mow the lawn, and a number of them can be wet (and all of them cold). But you will have to pass up the temptation to mow despite the wetness. When wet grass is cut, it can result in ragged edges that are prone to fungal infections. Plus, the roots can be pulled out, leaving bare spots.
Go Low? Yes or No?
There is a debate on what height you should use on your final mow of the season. There was a time when the standard advice was to cut it short for winter. Now the best advice is to cut it the same as always.
But make no mistake: It is your lawn. YOU should make the decision on what to do with it. Don’t let it go. Take action and make a decision on what length for the final mow of the season is best for your lawn. If you’d rather have someone else do the work, call a local LawnStarter pro to make the final cut.
Rosie Wolf Williams
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What is the Ideal Height to Cut Grass?
You have a variety of factors that contribute to the overall beauty and health of your lawn. One of the simplest of those factors, but perhaps one of the most important, revolves around the height at which you cut your grass. So, what is the ideal height to cut grass?
Unfortunately, every grass species is different. You can’t take a one-cut-height-fits-all approach to mowing. If you cut your grass too short, you weaken your grass’s growth pattern and open your lawn up to weed growth. Keeping it long makes it unsightly and more hospitable to various critters. You’ll want to find out what cut height works best for the grass you’re working with. And, that’s why we’re here.
Understand Your Growing Conditions
What types of grass grow best in your region? Do you live in colder or warmer temperatures? Do you get a lot of rain, and at which times of the year?
The USDA has developed the Plant Hardiness Zone Map to help gardeners and landscapers. This map marks out geographic areas that average a certain range of climatic conditions relevant to plant growth and survival. Becoming familiar with your zone will help you determine the right grass height for your landscape.
You can visit the USDA Agricultural Research Service website to view state-by-state maps as well as enter your zip code to view the particulars of your own hardiness zone.
Characteristics of Cool-Season Grasses
Cool-season grasses will grow in the upper two-thirds of the USA. That includes New England, the Upper Midwest, High Plains, Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest. These grasses grow in these areas because they’ve adapted to winter weather. Growth thrives during the Spring and Fall, slowing down in the heat of the Summer and lying dormant in the Winter.
How High Should You Cut Kentucky Bluegrass?
Kentucky bluegrass is a robust grass that has dark green leaves and a penchant for spreading quickly. It’s kind of the “jack-of-all-trades” of the cool-season grasses, with decent drought tolerance, foot-traffic tolerance, and shade tolerance. It also has solid tolerance to the cold. It won’t fare too well in high temperatures, which is why you likely won’t find it in the southern states.
During the high-growth seasons, you’ll want to keep Kentucky Bluegrass mowed to 2 to 2-1/2 inches high. During the hot parts of the Summer, and in periods of lower rainfall, increase your mowing height to 3 to 4 inches.
What is the Ideal Height to Cut Perennial Ryegrass?
Perennial Ryegrass is a non-spreading, fine-bladed, cool-season grass that germinates quickly after seeding. As a matter of fact, because of its speedy growth, it’s great for erosion control and it stands up to foot traffic well.
However, it is a bit more susceptible to drought, shade, and heat than the girthier Kentucky Bluegrass.
During the growing season, you’ll want to keep perennial ryegrass cut to between 2 and 2-1/2 inches high. However, because ryegrass enters dormancy in the hot weather, you’ll want to keep it mowed to 2-1/2 inches to 3 inches during the Summer. The longer length will help cast shadows on the grass at the soil level, keeping it cooler and holding in more moisture. Also, because longer stems equal longer roots, keeping your ryegrass longer in the Summer will let the grass reach deeper for nutrients.
Best Cutting Height When Mowing Fescue
Fescue grass comes in many different varieties. Fine fescues are popular in seed mixes because they grow quickly and have a deep gray-green color. They have a fine leaf texture that stands up really well to drought, shade, and cold weather. They don’t tend to do very well in the heat, however.
Tall fescues are a bunch-type grass that feature deep root systems. These grasses also display a high degree of drought tolerance and withstand both hot and cold weather.
With tall fescue, you might as well throw your mower cut height adjustment all the way up. This grass species does its best when it’s cut between 3.5 and 4 inches. Here again, taller shoots equal deeper roots, promoting a thicker, healthier lawn.
Fine fescue can be mowed down to as low as 1.5 inches but will do better at 2 to 3 inches. Again, letting this non-spreading grass develop long roots results in maximum photosynthesis.
How High Do You Cut Bermuda Grass?
As you might expect, warm-season grasses will handle southern geographies (in the yellow, orange, and red sections of the above map). They’ll do most of their growing during the Summer months when the temperatures hang out between 75º and 90º. Then, when the weather turns colder, they’ll transition to their brown, dormant state.
Bermuda grass is a popular warm-season variety for lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and general utility areas. It grows well in just about all soil types and resists droughts well. Spreading both above ground and below ground, Bermuda grass stands up to wear well while choking out weeds easily.
If this is the first time you’re mowing your lawn in the Spring (after the hard freezes pass), some Pros have recommended that you mow between 1/2 to 1 inch to remove as much dead top growth as possible. Be sure to bag your clippings to avoid thatch accumulations.
As the soil warms up with the weather, you’ll want to keep Bermuda grass at around 2 inches. It’s important that you don’t remove more than 1/3 of the blade at a time when you mow, as you’ll cut down below the green portion, scalping your lawn. This will leave your grass ugly, and also susceptible to heat, weeds, and drought. This does mean that you’ll have to keep up with mowing pretty frequently.
As you approach the Winter months, let your Bermuda grass grow to 3 inches, as the extra height will act as insulation over the winter. Bermuda grows slowly over the fall, so you’ll have to think ahead on this one.
What is the Ideal Height to Cut Bahia Grass?
We have a LOT of Bahia grass in Florida. This warm-season grass, which pretty much just exists in the southeastern United States, is popular for its durability, resilience, and low maintenance. It prefers full sunlight and doesn’t require many nutrients to flourish.
It grows (often like a weed) during the late Spring and on into the hot Summer months. It’s more coarse than most of the cool-season grasses but has a deep root system. This keeps it drought and temperature-resistant.
Some Pros recommend that you keep Bahiagrass mowed between 2 and 3 inches to improve stress tolerance and encourage deep roots. Others encourage setting the mower height between 3 and 4 inches to leave your grass with shaded roots. In either case, you want to avoid removing any more than the top 1/3 of the blade.
It’s also recommended that you set your mower to mulch. Bahiagrass clippings decompose quickly to provide nutrients and promote microbial activity that fights off fungal diseases.
How High to Cut St. Augustine
St. Augustine grass features wide grass blades and fast growth patterns. It’s typically found in southern coastal regions of the country. It will tolerate some shade, a lot of heat, salt, and drought. It doesn’t love excessive amounts of water or cold temperatures.
It spreads by above-ground runners (stolons), so scalping the lawn can be particularly damaging with St. Augustine.
For St. Augustine, you’ll have the best results when you set your mower between 2.5 to 4 inches. If you have a shady lawn, you’ll want to set your cut height to 3 or 4 inches. Generally, the lower you mow it, the more frequently you’ll have to mow. But, the tradeoff is that you’ll develop a higher quality turf.
Cutting Zoysia Grass to the Proper Height
Zoysia grass produces a dense, low-growing turf that stands up to heat, drought, and heavy foot traffic. This grass is tough and coarse. It also stays green with relatively little maintenance. Zoysia likes a lot of sunlight but will also put up with some shade.
It grows slowly but comes in thick. It spreads above ground by stolons, as well as by underground rhizomes. It develops a deep root system that conserves moisture well, remaining green even during periods of drought. It turns brown during winter dormancy but greens back up quickly in the spring.
Zoysia grows slowly and doesn’t need a whole lot of babying, which is why many homeowners prefer it. Pros recommend that you mow your Zoysia lawn as needed to maintain a grass height of 1 to 2 inches. This might mean waiting until it has grown to at least 2-1/2 inches high. Ideally, you should stick to the 1/3 rule here as well.
Final Thoughts on the Ideal Height to Cut Grass
Regardless of what kind of grass you have, your ideal cutting height has a lot to do with not waiting too long between maintenance cuts. One interesting feature of mowing height brings up the topic of cut quality. In addition to getting the height correct, you want to always keep your lawnmower blades sharp to ensure you don’t damage your grass over time. It also makes your lawn look greener and keeps it from getting a brown tinge.
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