In addition to fertilizing, proper mowing can strengthen your lawn’s resilience against pests and weeds. Good mowing requires vigilance and an understanding of your grass type.
Allowing the grass to stay tall helps keep weed seeds from germinating — especially those crabgrass seeds that need light to germinate. Keeping the lawn tall throughout the summer will keep the surface of the soil from drying out and reduce the need for watering. Tall grass also encourages deeper root growth.
Northern grasses like Bentgrass, poa annua, Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and perennial ryegrass should grow 2 ½ to 3 inches tall.
Southern grasses like Bermuda grass, Bahia grass, zoysiagrass and centipede grass should be kept 1 to 2 inches tall. St. Augustine does better taller at around 2 inches.
The best way to mow is often. Follow the one-third rule. For a thriving lawn, never cut away more than one-third of the grass blade in any one mowing. This keeps the grass at optimal height for root development. Stronger and deeper roots mean fewer pests. Consider helping the environment and your fitness level by using a push mower if you can.
Dull mower blades will tear the turf. Frayed tips will allow the leaf to dry out quickly and make the turf more susceptible to insect and disease damage. Mower blades should be re-sharpened 2 to 3 times per year.
Never put grass clippings in a plastic bag and send them off to the dump. Grass clippings are valuable organic matter, full of nitrogen and other nutrients. As long as you mow often enough to remove no more than one third of the grass blade, the easiest thing to do is just to leave clippings on the lawn. The pieces break down quickly and reduce the amount of fertilizer you have to use by as much as 25 percent. Research has proven that the clippings don't cause thatch to build up.