The most common mowing errors are cutting the lawn too short and not mowing often enough. The secret is to cut off less than 1/3 of the grass blade each mowing. Blades of grass should normally be cut to a height of 3 or 3 1/2 inches during the hot part of the summer and a little shorter in the spring or fall to clear out thatch. The leaf of the plant stores water and enables photosynthesis to take place. The longer the blade, the stronger and greener the plant and the deeper and healthier roots will become. Roots only grow as deep as you allow the blades to grow tall. Mowing direction ought to be altered on each mowing to keep the grass growing straight up. Keep your mower blade sharp to allow a clean cut and avoid shredding, so that the grass blade heals quickly.
It is better not to bag grass clippings as clippings naturally introduce organic matter to your lawn and help to stabilize or improve soil pH. Long clippings can smother a lawn, but short clippings biodegrade, returning fertilizers and essential nutrients to the plants. A thin layer of plant matter acts as a mulch, protects the plants and holds moisture. Fertilizers are alkaline in nature, stabilizing acidic clay soil and improving its quality.
Watering your lawn in the morning will usually produce the best results. However, if your lawn dries out for some reason, water as soon as you can regardless of the time of day. If you must water in the evening be sure the leaves dry out before the sun goes down. Too much water on the leaves and roots for long periods of time will increase disease problems. Water regularly 3 to 4 times a week in the early morning as the sun comes up. The key is not the amount of water but regularity. If your soil is hard clay you may need to water more heavily so that the water penetrates deeper into the soil and reaches the roots.
Is Your Lawn in Bad Shape?
There are no short cuts to cultivating a healthy lawn; it usually takes a full year to fix a lawn in bad condition. Weeds have seeds that germinate in bare areas and, as these areas fill in, the weeds decrease. However, grass takes time to thicken and fill in so as to stop weeds from germinating. The effect of nutrition is cumulative—so, as your lawn receives ongoing fertilizer treatments it will become resilient and stand up to harsh summer heat.
As lawns age they start to look patchy as creeping Phesque and other grasses start to take over. The blades of such invading grasses are fine and grow tightly so as to overwhelm the original grass until it loses its uniformity. We recommend our clients rake well (or rent a power rake) in the early spring to get rid of thatch and maintain the uniformity of the grass and its seed distribution. Adding top soil and grass seed in the spring or fall is also encouraged so as to introduce young youthful grass for a lush, healthier lawn.