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Mowing Methods Make a Difference

Captiva St. Augustinegrass Credit:  Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

Captiva St. Augustinegrass Credit: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

Mowing is an important and often overlooked landscape best management practices that can increase lawn health.

Most of us mowed lawns to earn some spending money as kids. As long as it was shorter when we finished than when we started our customers were happy.  Although mowing seems like a simple chore that anyone can do, it turns out that improper mowing can cause a lot of damage to lawns and can increase pest and disease issues.

Make sure your lawn mower in good working order.  Ensure the blades are sharp and the engine is not leaking any oil or gas products that may damage your lawn.  Dull or damaged blades will give a ragged cut to grass blades that make it easier for disease and insects to attack your lawn.  Leaking fuel products can damage or kill turf.  Keep your mower clean by blowing or rinsing it after use, this simple step will also reduce the spread of weeds, insects, and disease.

Know the recommended mowing height for your type of turf (see table below) and follow it!  Cutting turf below the recommended height places stress on the grass and encourages shallow roots.  Deep roots help turf handle stresses such as drought, shade, insects, disease, or traffic.  If any of these circumstances are occurring, the mowing height should be increased and fertilization should be decreased.

Mowing Height Table

Turfgrass Type Recommended Mowing Height
Bahiagrass 3.0-4.0 inches
Bermudagrass 0.75-1.5 inches
Centipedegrass 1.5-2.5 inches
St. Augustinegrass 3.5-4.0 inches, Dwarf Cultivars 2.0-2.5 inches
Zoysiagrass 1.5-2.5 inches, cultivar dependent

 

When mowing, never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per cutting.  If the grass is overgrown, plan to mow in stages to avoid scalping or removing too much of the leaf blade.  Just like shrubs, turf needs leaf surface area for photosynthesis.  Allow clippings to fall onto lawns rather than catching them or discharging onto hard surfaces.  The grass will decompose rapidly and provide nutrients to the lawn.  Clippings that are blown onto sidewalks, streets, or other hard surfaces may be washed into storm drains and get into water systems.  Just as decomposed clippings provide helpful nitrogen and phosphorus to our lawns, these same nutrients are harmful to our water bodies.  Keeping them in lawns is a great way to recycle and to keep our water clean.

To learn more about caring for your turf click on the link below.

Bahiagrass for Florida Lawns
Bermudagrass for Florida Lawns
Centipedegrass for Florida Lawns
St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns
Zoysiagrass for Florida Lawns

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Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/04/21/mowing-methods-make-a-difference/