Mowing Guide

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Turfgrass Mowing

Mowing Requirements Vary From Region to Region and for Various Turf grass Types Consult a Professional For Your Turf grass and Area. 

From the human perspective, mowing is the most basic and time consuming of all turf maintenance activities. We generally mow turf grass for two reasons. The main reason for mowing most turf grass is to improve appearance. Mowing turf at appropriate heights and frequencies is a major component of a turf management scheme designed to develop a dense, actively growing, attractive turf. In addition, another reason for mowing turf grass is to produce recreational or sports playing surfaces. Many outdoor athletic or play activities, such as golf, tennis, lawn bowling, baseball, soccer, and football, take place on turf surfaces specifically mowed and managed to accommodate these activities. Conversely, mowing is a destructive practice; it reduces turf grass leaf area available for producing necessary plant metabolites and also opens leaves to disease entrance. In addition, when mowed too short, turf can become open, allowing weed invasion (especially annual weeds such as crabgrass or prostrate spurge). Finally, turf mowed too short often has poorly-developed root systems and reduced rhizome spread, which also contributes to the development of a thin, open turf. Thus, for these reasons, it is important to find the balance that produces attractive, healthy turf in an efficient manner. To assist turf managers find the balance between turf and human needs, information about mowing height, mowing frequency, general mowing practices, handling clippings, and types of mowers requires consideration.Mowing Height and Frequency

Mowing Height and Frequency

A neatly trimmed lawn is generally considered to be more attractive than one unkempt and shaggy. By mowing frequently and maintaining a uniform turf surface, a neat appearance can be achieved, even at taller heights. Unfortunately, however, a common perception is a short turf is superior in appearance to tall turf. In reality, turf that is uniform appears neater than uneven turf, regardless of height. Proper height and frequency are the two most important aspects of a turf mowing program.

Mowing height. Mowing turf at the appropriate height is important to turf health and appearance. Turf cut too short usually has a shallow root system, lacks density, and often requires pesticide applications to stave off weed and pest infestations that commonly occur in stressed lawns. Conversely, tall turf is often considered to be unattractive because of wide leaf blades, low density, and a clumpy, unkempt appearance. In addition, tall turf may not be satisfactory for some sports applications.
Mow turf grass according to the heights presented in Table 1. Note that a range is listed for each species. When healthy and actively growing, turf can be mowed at the lower heights; raise mowing heights within the desired range during warm-hot periods or when turf is stressed due to drought, disease, shade, insects, or traffic. The heights listed in this table provide a balance between turf appearance and health.

Mowing frequency. Turf should be mowed as necessary, not according to a preset schedule. Turf grass grow at different rates depending on weather, management, and species. A basic recommendation is to remove no more than one-third of the grass blade at any one mowing. For example, Kentucky bluegrass being maintained at a two-inch height should be mowed when it reaches three inches. This “one-third rule” will help maintain maximum turf root growth. Removing more than one-third of the grass blades may cause root growth to cease while the leaves and shoots are re-growing. This practice can be especially destructive if practiced continuously over a period of successive mowing. Roots may not have a chance to fully develop and the plants will thus be more susceptible to environmental and management stresses. Maintenance of healthy, growing turf root systems should be a primary consideration of any turf management program.