As we continue into warmer weather, let’s talk about the best tips for mowing your lawn. Proper mowing and watering give your lawn its best chance to remain green and healthy through any hot and dry periods we may have through summer and fall.
There are three main components to proper mowing:
- Mowing Height
- Mowing Frequency
- Blade Sharpness
Let’s briefly look at each of these components.
Tip 1: Mowing Height
The ideal mowing height (blade height setting) varies based on the type of grass in your lawn. The vast majority of the lawns in Indiana consist of bluegrass, ryegrass, or tall fescue. All three of these grass types prefer to be mowed high. I recommend a minimum of 3”, but prefer to see lawns mowed at 3.5-4” in the hot summer months. This height helps to shade and cool the roots and crowns of the grass plants as well as the top layer of the soil. Keeping the soil cool helps it to retain moisture as long as possible, and will also make weed germination less likely. Mowing high also promotes deeper roots for an overall healthier plant.
Tip 2: Mowing Frequency
It is also important to mow as frequently as needed so that you remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Letting the grass grow to 6” and mowing it down to 3” is stressful on the plant and will affect the color of the lawn. Try to stay on top of your mowing and not let it get too tall.
An additional benefit to frequent mowing is that you will be able to leave the clippings on the lawn. This allows the nutrients that are stored in the grass blades — those that we apply as well as those generated by the plant — to be recycled as they compost back into your soil. If you bag your clippings, you are removing nutrients from the lawn!
Tip 3: Blade Sharpness
The final component of a successful mowing strategy is keeping your mower blades sharp. Sharp mower blades result in a clean cut to the grass blade rather than the tearing/shredding that happens with dull mower blades. Tearing and shredding the grass blade will cause a couple of problems: (1) the lawn will brown as the top of the grass plant is stressed, making your lawn appear discolored; and (2) the plants become more susceptible to disease issues, as the grass blades will have larger wounds caused by tearing. A nice, clean cut from a sharp blade will help minimize both of these problems.
You can watch a video from “This Old House” about sharpening your lawnmower blades here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFusHPPmOFo
Use these tips to mow your lawn, and they will help enhance the results of your lawn program. It will improve lawn color and health through the growing season, especially during any stressful periods of hot dry weather. So mow high, mow often, and keep those blades sharp!
Your lawn will thank you for it!