Aside from a sound lawn care system of fertility and weed management, how your grass is mowed is probably the greatest influential impact on the appearance of your lawn. We have covered a lot of ground on proper mowing in previous posts, but here are the basics:
- Never mow more than 1/2 of the grass blade at a time. Mowing 1/2 or more of the blade removes too much of the plant at one time, which will ‘scalp’ the lawn and perhaps leave heavy clippings that will smother and possibly further burn the grass.
- Always mow with a razor sharp blade. Lawn mower blades need to be sharpened 2-3 times during the lawn care season. Mowing with a dull blade rips/tears grass blades causing plant injury that results in a general yellow, unhealthy appearance. New lawn mowers need to have blades sharpened because most manufacturers do not fully sharpen blads for shipping purposes. Keep two blades on-hand so you always have a sharp blade to swap out.
- Alternate mowing directions. By altering the mowing directions you keep the grass growing straight up. Otherwise the grass would take on a slanted growth pattern; Creating many different problems, including proper air and light circulation which are important for optimal turf health.
- Mulch Clippings. If you are mowing often enough to follow the 1/3 rule above, you will never have to worry about the clippings smothering the lawn. Most lawn mowers are able to mulch light clippings quite easily. Grass clippings are a great natural source of nitrogen that should really not be removed by bagging.
At this time of year, and particularly in hot dry regions where lawns are showing obvious drought stress, mowing should be suspended altogether. In fact, particularly if you are restricted from watering, it is a good idea to minimize all foot traffic on a dormant lawn. Normal mowing practices can resume when the weather cools down and the lawn starts to grow more actively. So, if your lawn is showing signs of drought, please remember it is natural for your lawn to brown. Adjusting mowing strategies & reducing foot traffic on the lawn may be necessary to get your lawn through a hot and dry stretch of weather. Please contact your local Weed Man to do a complimentary analysis if you are concerned about your lawn's health and appearance. Summer conditions can also contribute to turf disease and insect issues. If the brown spots you see seem to be rapidly increase by day, rather than gradually like drought symptoms.