February 12, 2015
Shave your head then stand outside in the sun for an hour or so. The result can be painful. Now imagine hacking off most of your grass and letting what’s left bask in the sun day after day after day. The result can be disastrous. Not everyone enjoys the time spent on a lawn mower taking care of their yard. They’d rather cut the grass short with the belief that all they are doing is getting more time in between cuttings. Instead, they are dooming their lawn to weeds, dead spots, poor root systems and eventual destruction.
Some grassy info
But just how short to cut the grass isn’t such a cut and dried subject. It takes knowing a bit about your climate and your lawn. Someone doing yard care in Ann Arbor Michigan faces a different set of parameters versus someone mowing in downstate Illinois. Some basic information to consider includes:
• The type of grass used in the lawn: fescues, ryegrass, bluegrass and buffalo grass all seem to do well between 2- and 3-inches; bent grass and zoysia grass can handle being cut as low as 1 inch.
• The health of the grass and its previous care: if you are trying to kill off crabgrass it is better to leave the ornamental grass taller to shade and kill weeds.
• Soil consistency, makeup and the basic nutrient level of the ground
• The amount of rainfall to the area and how much moisture the grass type can absorb
As a general rule, between 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches tall after cutting covers most of the commonly used grasses in today’s lawns. Professional landscapers and lawn care companies track the type of grass in customer’s lawns and the condition of the lawn throughout the growing season. Keeping grass a bit taller in the hot dry summer months allows the blades to gather more moisture and feed the root system. Along about late July the temptation is strong to scalp the yard, but that is one of the worst things to do to a lawn.
The grass wins
Mowing based on height flies in the face of the usual “cut it every week” method of yard care. Should the gardener in Ann Arbor Michigan receive steady rainfall for several days, his yard will need mowed earlier than yards in downstate Illinois if they are suffering through hot, drought days.
Besides the standard rules of thumb for grass length, yard care experts also remind about the “rule of thirds.” No matter the height of the grass, no more than one-third of the blade should be cut in one session to avoid overstressing the plant. Even if left to grow overly tall, the grass should not be mowed any more than a third of the way down in one cutting. Wait a few days and mow again to get to the desired yard height.
Though it seems like a lot to consider, keeping a few basic tips in mind helps to keep a yard looking healthy and vibrant the entire season.
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