A bit of grass mowing advice from Justin Nichols, Horticulturist at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
The grasses, sedges, and forbs that comprise your yard are waiting for the snow to melt and the sun to warm the soil. If one thing is certain, that lawn of yours is going to grow. And I’m sure that most of you made a New Year’s resolution to improve your lawn in 2010. With that in mind, here are some basic mowing tips for a healthier lawn.
Sharpen those lawnmower blades. Dull mower blades rip the grass, increasing its vulnerability to disease.
Mow at 3″ or higher. Mowing high means that more photosynthetic material remains on the plant, which helps build root strength, lessens water needs, and shade out weeds.
Leave the clippings on the lawn. They are a source of nitrogen and other nutrients and organic matter for your lawn. Clippings break down quickly and, contrary to rumor, they are not a significant cause of thatch. Consider using serrated or “gator” mower blades which more finely chop the clippings.
Mow consistently, removing a third or less of the grass blade. Please do not let your grass grow to 10″ and then guillotine it back to 2″. This stresses the grass by removing too much of its food source. And if you look back at the house while you are doing this, you will note that as your clogging, choking power mower spews lumps of wet grass on the lawn, your spouse is cursing you from behind the bay window.
If your lawn is smaller, why not try a non-motorized reel mower like grandpa used? These human-powered push mowers are far less compacting to the soil than commercial and riding mowers. Your neighbors will praise your reduced carbon emissions, and your spouse will admire your increasingly great calves through the bay window.
If possible, mow when dry. Mowing when the grass is wet increases clumping and tearing of grass blades, and the spread of fungal turf diseases.
Mow in different directions or patterns. This helps prevent compacted areas and ruts from mower tires.
Image by Abbey Goes Design Scouting.