What if I told you that mowing a lawn properly will save water, save money, dramatically reduce weeds, bring out the dark green color, improve the soil health, take less time, and prevent fungus problems… would you make the necessary changes?
Mowing a lawn correctly is so easy and so important, yet so many homeowners and professional lawn care companies make these 3 easily avoidable mistakes.
Turfgrasses thrive when they are mowed at 3 inches or taller. Yet, most lawns are being mowed somewhere between 2 inches and 3 inches. Perhaps this mentality is due to an association with golf courses, which mow the turf so short, but we don’t play golf on our lawns. So, let’s see why mowing the lawn too short is so damaging.
The biggest issue with mowing short is that grass roots will only grow at a maximum of 3 times as deep as the grass is cut tall. Therefore, if a lawn is cut at 2 inches tall, the maximum the grass roots can grow is 6 inches deep. If a lawn is cut at 3 inches tall, the grass roots can grow about 9 inches deep. That is a huge improvement!
Deep-digging roots are extremely important to the health of a lawn because a lawn with well-established roots will be able to easily transition from cool, wet weather in the spring to hot, dry weather in the summer. A lawn with deep-digging roots that are 8-9 inches deep will also be able to stay green with about 33% less water than a lawn with 5-6 inch deep roots.
Everyone knows that deep-digging roots are better than shallow roots! So what are some other mistakes that we see when mowing a lawn?
Wait, that sounds a lot like #1! Yep, this is exactly like mowing the lawn too short. Why did we say it again? Probably because more than 50% of all lawns are being mowed too short and I probably have this conversation every time one of our lawn care technicians or I go to look at a problem lawn.
The conversation goes something like this…
Organo-Lawn Brad: “Hi there, did you know your lawn is being mowed too short and by raising your lawn mower height your lawn will have fewer weeds, use less water and have a deeper darker green color?”
Customer: “That is helpful, but I am mowing the lawn at 3 inches.”
Organo-Lawn Brad: “Hmmm let me measure it with a ruler… as you can see it is being cut at 2 inches. We strongly recommend that you cut the lawn at the highest setting on the lawn mower.”
Customer: “That is strange; I have it on the highest setting.”
Organo-Lawn Brad: “Can I take a look at your lawn mower?”
Customer: “Sure, it is in my garage, there it is right there.”
Organo-Lawn Brad: “Yep, that is what I thought! As you can see, it is on the middle setting. I think this happens a lot because people think the highest setting must be too tall and the lowest setting must be too low; so they put it on the middle. In actuality the middle setting is too low and the highest setting is the correct choice.”
Customer: “Look, it is on setting 3 on the lawn mower, doesn’t that mean it is on 3 inches?”
Organo-Lawn Brad: “Those numbers on the lawn mower mean nothing, they are just numbers. The best setting is to put it on the highest setting and leave it!”
Customer: “That is strange; I had it on the highest setting. My son must have moved it when he mowed the lawn.”
Organo-Lawn Brad: “That is probably what happened; your son must have moved it!”
That sounds a lot like #1 and #2! Because it is! Mowing the lawn
too short causes so much damage and it is the most common mistake that is also
the easiest change that a homeowner can make!
small change of raising the lawn mower height from 2 inches to 3 inches will
bring out the full green color of the grass. Instead of a lime-green color, the
grass will be a deep dark emerald-green color. Grass stores water in its blades
and by removing less of the blade of grass the lawn will have more water
stored. The better water content a lawn has in each blade of grass, the darker
green the grass will be and the healthier it will look.
If you are mowing your grass short, blame your son and then raise your lawn mower deck! If your lawn mowing company is mowing the grass short, ask them to raise the lawn mower deck. If they say they can’t, find a new company! Mowing the lawn at 3 inches or taller is the easiest change that makes the biggest impact on the health of a lawn.
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