A vibrant green lawn is one of the best ways to make your house stand out. The key to growing a lawn is getting the right mowing height. Here's everything you need to know to get the right grass-cutting length in Pennsylvania.
Mowing your grass too short, sometimes known as scalping, is far from ideal. The biggest risk is that you will stress the grass to a point where it has difficulty recovering. In an area like Pennsylvania, which gets hot summers and cold winters, you risk damaging the crown and making it difficult for the grass to bounce back.
Another potential problem is that shorter grass can make it easier for weeds to take control of the lawn. The shade of a longer grass blade will make it harder for species like crabgrass to get a foothold on your lawn. A taller grass will typically be more resistant to seasonal stressors as well.
While mowing your lawn too low can cause problems, you also don't want to let the grass get too high. Most often, this will mean that you can't avoid cutting more than a third of the grass blade off at a time. This will usually lead to a stressed out lawn, longer recovery times between mowings and potential thinning of the grass as a result.
It can also cause problems after you have cut the grass. With a proper mowing, the debris will usually be small, forming a natural compost and returning to the soil as organic matter. However, if there are too many clippings, they will clump together or blanket the lawn. This blocks the sunlight, creating dead patches on your lawn.
If aesthetic is a priority for you, perhaps the biggest problem is that long grass will make your yard look unkept.
It's recommended that you keep cool-season grasses between 3 inches to 4 inches tall, according to Tennessee University. Though we recommend no lower than 3.5 for our area (Lewisburg, PA).
There are a few reasons why this is a good height. First, it will stimulate strong root growth. This ensures that it will be able to withstand warmer temperatures during the summer months. The extra height will a more dense canopy to shade and cool the roots. This reduces the chances of damaging heat stress during a drought.
When winter approaches, you can feel comfortable mowing on the shorter end of our recommended range. If you've mowed properly and cared for your lawn through the summer months, the resulting stronger root system will likely be able to survive colder temperatures.
It might be a good idea to pick up any debris following the final mow of the year. This will help to avoid any damaged or dead spots when spring rolls around.
When the temperature starts to rise again in the spring, growth will start to return. Let the weather determine when to start mowing your lawn again. You don't want to mow until it's consistently above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In early spring, you can kick off the season with a light trim to stimulate early growth.
Spring is also a good time to start applying some fertilizer, to give the grass the nutrients it needs to grow. During summer, it's vital to water the grass, limiting heat stress. Ideally, you should be doing this in the morning. This gives the water plenty of time to be taken up by the roots, fall through the soil, or evaporate. If the grass is damp at night, it can lead to fungal diseases.
Making a few changes to the way you mow your lawn can have a big impact on the amount of stress your grass experiences. This will help you boost growth and keep your lawn looking healthy.
The most important tip is to make sure that you are only taking off one-third of the grass blades at a time. More than this and you risk causing stress or damage. If you have an overgrown lawn, you might need to mow it a few times to get it under control. It's best to wait two days between mowing sessions, to give the grass some time to recover.
It's best to mow your lawn in the morning or evening, rather than in the heat of the day. You may want to wait for the morning dew to evaporate. If you mow your lawn while it's wet, the grass clippings may clump together. This can lead to dead zones, as the clumps block sunlight and water from getting to the grass.
Next, try to change the mowing patterns you are using. If you follow the same mowing pattern each time, there is a chance that the weight of the mower can cause compaction or thin out areas that see the most traffic.
Finally, make sure to keep your lawn mower blades sharp. A dull blade will rip through the grass, leading to jagged tears in the grass. This has the potential to lead to disease and increases stress. Every ten mower hours, remove the blades from your mower and sharpen them up.
The most important part of lawn mowing is getting the right grass height. This will reduce grass stress and prove to be a reliable weed control tactic. As long as you keep these simple lawn care principles in mind, you shouldn't have any problems. If you want more help, don't be afraid to give the friendly team at JC Landscapes a call. We're always happy to help mow your lawn, creating a healthy environment for your grass to thrive.