Do you know the proper cutting height for your type of lawn turf? What to do with grass clippings? How often to sharpen mower blades? We answer those questions and others in this short blog on the best ways to care for your lawn.
It’s August in Florida, which means mowing every 24 minutes or your yard turns into a meadow. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what we mean. Weekly lawn mowing is necessary during this season when grass grows very rapidly.
Unless you’re a lawn geek, you’re happy to just tame the beast and get the yard looking decent for another seven days. But did you know that there are right and less right ways to mow a lawn?
The Time of Day Makes a Difference
If you feel fried after mowing for an hour at 2 p.m., guess what? The grass feels fried, too. Avoid mowing during the hottest parts of the day when the grass will be stressed.
Try to cut grass in mid to late morning after the dew has dried or in the early evening. Of course, Florida’s late afternoon summer rains throw a wrench into the perfect mowing schedule. Just keep ideal cutting times in mind and do your best.
How High Should Grass Be Cut?
Different grass types should be cut at different heights. Although some homeowners love turf that looks like that short carpet look, if they allow the grass to grow taller, a stronger, deeper root system results. A robust root system produces robust grass.
These are the recommended cutting heights by turf type:
Zoysia: ½ – 1 ½”
St. Augustine: 2-4”
Bermuda: ½ – 1 ½”
Centipede: 1 ½ – 2 ½”
Fine Fescue: 1 ½ – 2 ½”
Tall Fescue: 2-3”
Ryegrass: 1 ½ – 2 ½”
Longer grass blades offer another benefit: they shade out baby weeds and keep soil from heating up as much as it would if the turf was short.
The Clipping Question
Most homeowners would rather not deal with grass clippings after they’ve spent an hour mowing. Minimize the amount of debris left by cutting regularly and only removing the tops of the blades. Then rake up the rows and use the clippings as compost or mulch (spread in 1-2-inch layers).
Or install a bag on your mower to catch the clippings. The bag will need emptying periodically. This works alright on smaller lawns. On bigger lawns, installing a mulching blade is a better option.
Mulching blades chop the grass into tiny little pieces and deposit them back on the grass. The pieces are so small that they don’t gather into rows on top of the grass.
About Blade Sharpening and Mowing Direction
Don’t forget to sharpen your mower blades. The rule of thumb is to sharpen blades after 20-25 hours of mowing. Don’t know how to sharpen blades? Get the job done at a landscape or lawn equipment company that offers mower blade sharpening services.
Change up the direction you mow. If your rows run parallel to the street one week, mow in a perpendicular pattern the next week, and diagonal the next. Varying mowing direction keeps ruts from forming in the soil. It also promotes upright grass growth since blades tend to lean in the direction they’re being mowed.