Lawn mowing best practice

Lawn mowing best practice mowing lawn short, correct lawn mowing height, how long to mow grass, how often to mow grass, lawn mowing frequency, best lawn cutting practice, how often to cut grass, gardener Bourne End, Marlow, Taplow, Wooburn Green gardener

Over the years we have learned many do’s and don’t’s relating to mowing lawns.  This gives us a good understanding of how best to keep a lawn healthy, and how to keep client costs as low as possible.

In an ideal world these points should always be applied, but unfortunately life and the weather get in the way.

Most important to lawn mowing best practice is keeping the lawn alive and healthy. Here are the basic facts.

Height of cut

Most contentious if the  height of the cut. Many people want to have a lawn that is very short, like a cricket pitch or tennis court. Of course they mostly don’t have the resources to undertake it.  Cutting turf too low is the most common mistake.  The idea is is to improve the lawn’s appearance, but the result is often the opposite.

After maintaining a lawn too low  for a couple of years, there will be more weeds, more disease, and generally poorer lawn quality.

Lawn mowing best practice
Cutting too low will cause damage.

This is caused partly by removal of too much leaf tissue and subsequent physiological effects on the plant. Mowing cuts newly emerged, highly photosynthetic leaf blades. This means older, less photosynthetically active blades must carry the burden of carbohydrate synthesis for the plant. As a result, the plant weakens and root growth slows as the plant-produced carbohydrates are shunted to produce new leaves. Grass in this weakened state is slow to recover from insect damage and disease, and weeds fill in the space.

Proper mowing height is critical to lawn health because it:

  • Allows for proper food production
  • Reduces stress
  • Inhibits weed growth
  • Reduces irrigation requirements.

In addition removing more leaf material and maintaining a lower canopy, the microclimate is changed. More light reaches into the canopy, increasing turf and upper-soil temperature. Consequently, temperature of lower-cut turf is generally higher than that of higher-cut turf. High temperatures speed up metabolism and can deplete carbohydrate reserves that the lawn needs for growth. In addition, high temperature can interact with pesticides and cause phytotoxicity.

Lawn height against lawn function

Mowing height should be based on the lawn’s main function, with consideration to the lawn quality and weediness. The height of the lawn cut will also affect the time between cuts, and hence the cost.

If a lawn is generally healthy it can be cut shorter on some occasions without major stress. So the plan should be to keep it generally longer, reducing the height occasionally. If the lawn has got longer, because it couldn’t be cut due to bad weather  for example, it may be reduced by several cuts, but still left longer than the usual final height.

Mowing frequency

Mowing frequency is based on the growth rate of the grass, not on a set time schedule. Getting this perfect is easier said than done, as the every lawn grows at it own rate. But it is the lawn mowing best practice.

Mowing frequency varies based on the lawn quality and use. A golf course typically mows its golf greens on a daily basis, while you only may need to mow a roadside several times a year. For most moderately to intensively cultured lawns, the best advice is to remove no more than one-third of the turf height at any one mowing. If you remove more than one-third, you may create an imbalance between aerial shoots and roots, thus retarding growth. Plus, too-frequent mowing can cause less rooting, reduced rhizome growth, increased shoot density, decreased shoot growth, decreased carbohydrate reserves and increased plant succulence. But, that has to be measured against cost, and availability.

So mowing frequency changes as grass starts to grow faster in April and May, slowing or even stopping in July and August, resuming in September through November; more frequently during part of the season and a reduced schedule during other months. Weather conditions, irrigation and fertilisation also affect growth rate.

Clippings

Clippings are one of the contentious elements of lawn mowing. They do occasionally benefit the lawn, but it won’t look as neat. Collecting clippings also takes longer and therefore costs more. Taking clippings away costs even more,  so best practice is to add to a clients compost pile. We try to explain and encourage  customers about composting and its benefits.

Some of the many benefits of leaving the clippings on the lawn include the return of vital nitrogen, providing up to 25% of the fertilising requirement . Removing clipping removes about 100 to 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre every year.

Leaving clippings on the lawn reduces mowing time by up to 50%. The larger the lawn, and further to the compost pile, the more saving potential there is.

The benefits of mulching mowers

Side- or rear-discharge mowers throw clippings back onto the lawn, but a mulching mower is the best option. These specially designed units cut clippings into smaller and smaller pieces so they will easily fall back to the soil, rather than sitting on top of the newly mown lawn.  These sophisticated machines create adequate suction to stand the grass, cut it, hold it long enough to chop it into tiny pieces and then evenly blow it into the turf without clumping. The subtle design of the individual cutting chambers and the blades inside the deck housing play a critical role in this process.

So when cutting your lawn we consider these factors.

  • Type of grass
  • Height of cut
  • Mowing frequency
  • Area use
  • Total area to be mowed
  • Obstacles present
  • Safety of operator and bystanders
  • Skill required for operation and maintenance
  • Skill level of operators and maintenance personnel
  • Economics
  • Equipment versatility.

We have chosen equipment to provide the best performance and cost for clients, and the wide range of lawn conditions we encounter. And while all clients are most important, lawn cutting tasks usually take priority because the task only gets harder if it is delayed. Cold, frost and wet weather delay cutting, but wet and warm weather is difficult as you can almost watch the grass growing.

Mowing safety

Our lawn mowing best practice allows consideration to client and operator safety when using lawn mowing equipment.  We are aware of hazards on lawns, proximity of people and property.