Mowing Your Lawn

Mowing is the most common cultural practice performed on lawns. When carried out properly, mowing can provide an enormous benefit to the appearance of the lawn. When done improperly, mowing can create serious problems for the lawn
resulting in a significant degradation in appearance.

One key to proper mowing is to mow often enough so that you never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade. This may mean mowing as often as every 5 days during rapid growth periods. Removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade may send the grass plant into a state of shock, which can allow for weed invasion. Another important factor is to mow tall. Turf mowed tall develops a more extensive root system leading to a healthier lawn which is more resistant to stress. Turfgrass mowed no lower than 2 1/2 inches is vastly easier to manage. 3 1/2 inches tall is even better. Tall mowing is a significant aid to a nice, healthy lawn.

It's always a good idea to check mower blade sharpness, and make sure the blades remain sharp as the season progresses. Instead of cutting cleanly, dull mower blades shred the grass and cause extensive discoloration during the growing season. The shredded tips of grass blades are a good indicator that it's time to sharpen the mower blade.

Allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn, if possible. Grass clippings recycle fertilizer components into the soil, and they do not contribute to thatch build-up. However, if the grass has grown too much since the last cutting and the mower is leaving a large amount of clippings, then we recommend removing the excess clippings. Leaving a 'hay crop' lying on the lawn may promote fungus infestation.

Watering Your Lawn

Watering is one of the more confusing aspects of lawn care. In this writing we will focus on watering the lawn for the purpose of providing adequate soil moisture for the roots of the grass.
The common rule of thumb on watering is to apply 1 inch of water per week; 1/2 in of water applied twice a week is the usual recommendation. There are so many variables to proper watering; that several factors should be considered to determine what is best for your lawn:

Do I need to water every week?

No. You only need to supplement natural rain. But you need a rain gauge to measure the amount of rain received by the lawn. Don't guess, and don't use weather bureau reports of rainfall because the amount may vary considerably from one part of town to another. You only need to apply sufficient water to bring the total water received to approximately one inch per week.

How long does it take to apply 1/2 in. of water?

The time will vary depending on hose diameter, water pressure and type of sprinkler. Many properties are watered by underground irrigation systems. The design and layout of the system are additional variables affecting the time required to apply adequate water. The only way to know for sure is to collect the water with a rain gauge, and measure the time needed to reach the 1/2 in mark. Inexpensive rain gauges are available at most lawn and garden stores.

Why is my water running down the street?

Because your soil is not absorbing the water as fast as it's being applied. You need to know when the point of run-off is reached, and be sure you don't continue watering past that point. Check your gauge and record your time for future reference.

The slope of the lawn and the soil type will determine the absorption rate of your watering. Many new lawns are installed on clay soil, which absorbs water slowly. Steep slopes require more frequent, but lighter applications of water.

How should I manage my irrigation system?

First, be certain the system is covering the lawn properly. It is not uncommon to have lawns overwatered in spots and completely dry in other areas, due to uneven sprinkler coverage. Rain gauges may be used to evaluate coverage, or, have your irrigation contractor perform this service.

When the coverage is determined to be even, then you can set your system to water correctly. During the spring and fall growing seasons, 2 mornings watering per week, at 1/2 in each, should be fine. During the heat of summer, the irrigation system may be used to alleviate the stress of high temperatures. A brief afternoon watering, done every day, can be very effective in managing turfgrass. We have had very good results with this method of summer watering.