Although it may seem like a mundane summer task, cutting the grass is both an art and a science. How frequently you cut grass, its height and even the amount of grass you cut at each mowing can all affect how quickly it grows as well as its health. Knowing a few basics can help keep your grass growing without compromising its ability to withstand weeds and disease.
1. Cutting and Grass Health
Cutting grass can promote growth, but this may be a good or a bad thing depending on how short you cut. When grass is mown very short, it tries to replenish its shoots by growing back very quickly. The downside is that the fast growth depletes the roots, and grass becomes more susceptible to hot weather and drought. This in turn makes grass less capable of producing food and taking in water, both of which are necessary for optimal health.
2. Ideal Cutting Frequency
Grass allowed to grow more between mowings is likelier to be healthy. Cut no more than one-third of the grass height per session. Cutting over one-third in a single mowing will stress and injure grass. For example, grass that is 4 1/2 inches tall should be cut back to 3 inches. If grass grows very long, stick to the one-third rule and cut it back gradually over several mowings rather than cutting it back more than one-third at one time.
3. Ideal Grass Height
In addition to frequency, grass height can make or break your grass' ability to grow at a healthy pace. If you allow grass to grow taller than 2 inches before mowing, it will be more resistant to stress and have fewer weeds. Most grasses should be kept at a height between 2 and 3 inches. Grass that grows beyond this height is not only unappealing to the eye, but it will be less dense than grass kept within the range.
If you are experiencing problems getting your grass to grow, cutting more often is not the answer. There are various factors that can affect grass height and health, including watering frequently for short periods, too much shade, overfertilizing or mowing your lawn when it is wet. If you investigate these causes but find that grass will still not grow, seek professional assistance or purchase a soil test kit to help you remedy these potential problems.
- The Lawn Institue: Mow It High and Let It Lie
- Michigan State University Turfgrass Science: Mowing Turfgrass
- University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program: Lawn Mowing
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Turfgrass Extension and Outreach: Turfgrass Mowing
- Washington State University Extension: Lawns
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