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Busting the Most Common Lawn Myths and Misconceptions

1. Myth: If you let turfgrass seedheads grow in your lawn and then mow them off, they will germinate and grow.

Hot Springs, Ark. –

1.   Myth:  If you let turfgrass seedheads grow in your lawn and then mow them off, they will germinate and grow.

Seedheads need to mature on the stem for several months in order to germinate. So the seedheads produced in spring will not germinate when they are mowed or if they are moved as mulch to the garden. The most effective way to control turfgrass seed­ heads is through mowing frequently with a sharp mower blade. Seedhead production usually lasts only about a month for cool­season grasses and zoysiagrass. Bermudagrass produces seedheads throughout the summer.

2.  Myth: I will not have to mow as often if I mow my lawn shorter.

Lawns need to be mowed in such a way that no more than one-­third of the leaf blade is removed in any one mowing. According to the one­third rule, a lawn mown at 3.0 inches will need to be mown about every seven days. A lawn mown at 2.0 inches will need to be mown about every five days. Lawns mown at a higher height of cut will be healthier and will need to be mown less often.

The optimum mowing height for most lawns is about 2.0 to 4.0 inches. When mown at the optimum mowing height, turf is thickest and requires the fewest inputs. Mowing above these heights will tend to create a less dense turf with coarser leaf blades and potentially a puffy or scraggly appearance. Mowing significantly below this height will create a weak turf that will require more inputs like fertilizer, irrigation and pesticides. Can a turf species be maintained below the optimum mowing height? Yes, but be prepared to spend much more time, energy and money to maintain that turf.

3.   Myth: I should set my mower down for the first mowing in the spring

Before bermudagrass begins to grow in the spring, it is possible to mow the turf slightly shorter than normal to remove dead leaf blades and other debris. This practice reduces shading of the emerging plants and will alsoserve to warm soil temperatures more quickly in the spring. The result is a lawn that greens­ up more quickly in the spring. The risk in this practice is that you could scalp some of the emerging grass if this practice is delayed until after the lawn has begun to green-­up, and you could increase the number of weeds in the lawn by allowing the sunlight to reach the soil surface. Carefully inspect the turf before removing dead leaf tissue and debris to ensure there are no green shoots emerging. Zoysiagrass lawns often do not go fully dormant like bermudagrass during winter. Therefore, this practice is likely to be more damaging on a zoysiagrass lawn than a bermudagrass lawn. Low mowing in early spring is damaging to centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns since they spread by aboveground stems (stolons) and are more prone to injury from this practice. 

4.  Myth:  If I mow my lawn on the lowest setting, it will look like a golf course.

As with myths two and three, mowing your lawn too low is never a good thing. Mowing your lawn below the optimum mowing height (2.0 to 4.0 inches) will result in a weak turf that will require more fertilizer, irrigation and pesticides to control weeds, diseases and insects. Additionally, mowing a lawn too short will increase the amount of time, energy and money required to maintain that lawn. Grass species and cultivars on golf courses are different from those in most lawns. Golf course superintendents select their mowing heights based upon turf species, environment, golfer expectations, revenues generated and equipment available. Golf course superintendents mow fairways, tees and greens with reel mowers, which are needed for low mowing heights.  Additionally, golf course superintendents have advanced degrees and training necessary to maintain turfgrasses at this high level of quality. So, the next time you get the urge to mow your lawn short, simply go play a round of golf and enjoy the quality short turf at the expense of somebody else’s labor. 

5.  Myth:  I need a putting green in my backyard.

Let me advise you strongly against this idea. Maintaining a backyard putting green requires more fertilization, mowing, cultivation and pesticide applications than a normal lawn. It also requires special soils, turfgrass species and cultivars as well as an irrigation system. Additionally, it must be mown five or more times weekly with a special greens­type reel mower that requires servicing from specialized shops. A putting green is like a puppy. You have to go home and check on it at lunch. When you leave for vacation, you will have to find someone to look after it. And, accidents do happen, so be prepared to do some clean­up when squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, the neighborhood dogs or possibly your nephews decide to dig up your investment. If you are still undeterred, see FSA6143, Building a Backyard Putting Green, for more information. 

6.  Myth: I must have a white grub problem if I have moles in my lawn. 

The diet of moles consists mainly of earthworms. If they happen upon a grub, they will eat it, but it is not their preferred snack. Therefore, if you have moles and then kill the grubs with an insecticide application, you will still have moles. 

For more information, contact the Garland County Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703, or email Jimmy Driggers at jdriggers@uaex.edu

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email jvincent@uaex.edu.

Master Gardeners

If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information, you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1pm at the Elks Lodge.  You may also call the Extension office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email abates@uaex.edu.

4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Linda Bates at lbates@uaex.edu

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

By Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
abates@uaex.edu

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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