Mowing Height and Frequency
I am tempted to contract for biweekly lawn mowing service. My wife says the lawn should be cut at least once a week. What is best for the lawn?
Proper mowing height and frequency will go a long way toward improving lawn performance. Grass blades are the manufacturing plant of the lawn. If cut too short there is less leaf surface for food production by photosynthesis. If grass is allowed to grow 3 or 4 inches tall and then cut back to less than an inch it shocks the plants and they use a lot of energy in replacing those leaves.
Lawns should never be cut shorter than 1½ inches. No more than 1/3 of the blade should be removed at each mowing. In June when the lawn is growing most rapidly, it may need to be mowed every 4 to 5 days. In a month or so, when growth rate slows, once every 7 days may be enough. A biweekly mowing would remove more than 50% of the blade in each mowing.
If you mow frequently, so that clippings are short, they can be allowed to fall between the grass blades and not accumulate on top. These clippings are turned into humus by earthworms and soil micro-organisms. The amount of fertilizer in one season’s clippings is equivalent to one application of fertilizer. If mowed every 2 weeks, the clippings will have to be removed.
If you are a golfer, you may have noticed that the fairways are usually cut at ¾ inch or less and still are healthy and thick. If you talk to the superintendent, you will find that his mowing interval is 2 to 3 days. You will also find that he applies more fertilizer, weed killer and other chemicals.
Another practice which will improve lawn health and appearance is keeping the mower blade sharp. A dull mower blade tears the leaf edges rather than cutting cleanly. The blade tips turn brown, giving an overall dull appearance to the lawn. This dullness goes away when the blade is sharpened.
One other factor which will improve lawn growth is to apply lime to the lawn at least once every 2 years. Our soils and water are naturally acid. The calcium in the lime reduces acidity and improves grass growth. It also makes iron more readily available in the soil. Iron causes grass to grow dark green.