Mowing Your Lawn
Correct mowing produces a neat, even, well-groomed appearance. Likewise, your mowing practice will greatly influence the lawn’s density, growing vigor, water need, and weed infestation. The effectiveness of all other lawn maintenance practices (such as fertilizing, watering, and weed control) depends on proper mowing.
Proper mowing begins at choosing the correct height for your turf grass species. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass are generally mowed at 2 - 3 inches high. The repeated mowing of cool season grasses too low places the turf under stress causing it to require more water. The resulting turf is thin and weak and is highly susceptible to weed invasion. Warm season grasses such as Bermuda grass and zoysia grass are mowed at 1-2 inches high. Warm season grasses will build up excessive thatch when mowed higher than recommended. Calibrate your mower by placing it on a flat surface and measuring the distance from the ground to the blade. Then make height adjustments as needed.
The frequency of mowing will depend on the mowing height and growth rate of the grass. The grass should be mowed when it has grown one-third taller than the desired height (this is called the one-third rule). Failing to follow the one-third rule results in the removal of excessive leaf tissue, shocking the grass. The result will be a thin, stemmy turf with a poor root system.
If you follow the one-third rule, there is no need to bag the clippings. The short clippings are 90% water and will quickly shrivel and filter down to the ground. A common misconception is that leaving the clippings on the lawn contributes to thatch formation. In fact, clippings break down quickly and recycle nutrients back to the lawn. Mulching mowers are not a necessity for a beautiful lawn.
A sharp blade is critical to a quality mowing job. Dull blades beat and tear the grass leaving frayed leaf tips which give a whitish cast to the lawn. A sharp blade cuts cleanly and easily, requiring less fuel. Inspect the blade after each mowing checking for sharpness and for the presence of nicks.
Mowing is an important part of the lawn maintenance program. Proper mowing height and frequency with a sharp blade will result in a healthy beautiful lawn. Make sure, however, to read and follow all of the manufacture's operation safety tips for your mower.