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Mowing Your Lawn

Here are some important tips to consider when mowing your lawn.

Nashville, Ark. – During the spring and summer months, the average American spends 2 hours per week on lawn and garden care. While mowing is the most time-consuming lawn maintenance practice, it is not without its merits. The primary purpose of mowing a lawn is to improve its appearance. Proper mowing technique, equipment, frequency and height of cut will improve the quality of a lawn while also increasing the health of the turfgrass plants and decreasing weeds.

Mowing is a destructive practice because it reduces the amount of leaf tissue available for the production of energy. The general response to mowing is for the plant to produce more leaf tissue to replace what is lost. If too much leaf tissue is removed in any one mowing, plants will respond by redirecting energy away from valuable roots to producing new leaves. Additionally, turfgrass cannot efficiently capture nutrients and produce energy when mown too low. Therefore, proper mowing is a key ingredient to a successful, healthy lawn. Mow as often as needed but never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade in a single mowing. In other words, if your mower is set at 3 inches, mow before your lawn reaches 4.5 inches high. mowing frequency will vary greatly based upon the turfgrass species, time of year and rainfall, but a typical frequency is one to two times per week during the growing season. Be sure to time your mowing properly with any intended herbicide applications. Mowing too soon before or after a herbicide application can increase turfgrass sensitivity or reduce weed control.

Sharply-cut leaf blades increase turf health by improving recovery, decreasing water loss and increasing photosynthesis. Lawns mown with a dull mower blade have poor aesthetics, heal more slowly and have greater water loss. Sharpen mower blades at least twice a year. Replacement blades are expensive, so it may be useful to keep a second blade sharpened and available to switch out as the first blade becomes dull. Both blades can then be sharpened after the turfgrass has gone dormant.

  In general, mowing turf at higher mowing heights helps increase overall plant health and reduce weed pressure. Tall fescue and St. Augustinegrass perform best at mowing heights of approximately 3.0 inches. Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass perform well at lower mowing heights. They can be mown at a height of 1.0 to 2.0 inches with a rotary mower or 0.5 to 1.0 inches with a reel mower. Within species, some cultivars tolerate lower mowing more than others. In general, finer-bladed cultivars and species tolerate lower mowing heights. Higher mowing heights may help turfgrasses in shady or partially shaded areas of your lawn.

 One thing to be careful not to do is to scalp your lawn. Scalping occurs when more than one-third of the leaf blade is removed and the stem is left remaining. Scalping not only decreases the aesthetic appearance of the lawn but also decreases the health of the plant. Mow frequently at higher mowing heights to avoid scalping. A reel mower will reduce the likelihood of scalping if lower mowing heights are preferred. Additionally, you can alternate the mowing pattern each time you mow to prevent grain and reduce the risk of scalping. Some species like bermudagrass are more prone to scalping than zoysiagrass or tall fescue.

For more information, you can visit www.uaex.edu, or send an email to skroll@uaex.edu. Howard County Extension office is still working and is there for all the residents in Howard County during this time.

By Samantha Kroll
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Samantha Kroll
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
skroll@uaex.edu

 

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.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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