Properly Cutting Your Grass

The most important piece of advice for yard care is to mow the lawn high. Most lawns should be cut at a minimum mowing height of 2.5 inches, with a slight variation depending on the position of the notches on your machine’s adjustable wheels.

A longer lawn will have more surface area for photosynthesis to occur. Increased photosynthesis results in more plant growth, an extensive root system, and a healthier plant.

Weeds can be drastically reduced when grass is maintained at a higher cut. Once the turf adapts to growing at increased heights, it fills in and becomes dense and lush.

This density allows the plant to crowd out weeds that normally invade when a turf is weak and stressed. A dense, lush yard maintained at a minimum height of 3 inches is more tolerant to infrequent watering and drought stress because there are increased moisture reserves in the leaf tissue and root system.

Although your yard will still need water, the effects of drought or water restrictions will be less noticeable and take longer to occur with a higher mowed lawn. This means you have a better chance at maintaining a green yard while you wait for the next rainfall.

The most noticeable benefit of the longer turf is aesthetics. The increased amount of leaf blade provides a dramatic improvement in the color.

You will notice your yard become consistent, uniform and lush looking. Shade zones, patchy areas and weak spots will fill in and help achieve a dense fill when given the right opportunity.

Your 3 inch lawn will need to be mowed once a week during the growing season when it is receiving constant moisture. Once it reaches that uniform height, you will still be cutting off the same amount of grass as you would a lower cut lawn.

There are exceptions to this rule, however, as some southern varieties just do not like to grow that high and thrive just fine at lower heights. Another method to maintain your yard is by striping.

Striping a yard can create a dramatic effect and elevate the lawn to a new level. When people refer to wanting their yard to look like a golf course, they usually mean the look of the striping rather than the health of the turf.

Alternating mowing patterns by 90 degrees or 45 degrees adds to the aesthetic and is good for the plant. Striping is nothing more than pushing the blades down in one direction and then the other, as you mow.

Similar to the grain on suede or velvet, the effect is two different shades of green: a light and a dark. The bold striping on a golf course or ball field is usually achieved with a finely tuned reel mower with rollers in the front and back of the mower.

The first roller is sometimes grooved, and aids in lining up the grass for an even cut by the reel. The reel cuts in a way that pushes the blades down in one direction, and the rear, weighted roller pushes the grass down a final time.

Commercial grade reel mowers like those found on golf course and ball fields, are very high tech machines and priced extremely high for the average homeowner. Riding or walking rotary mowers can be fitted with striping kits which are attached on the rear or right behind the mowing deck.

It can range from a weighted back roller assembly to a firm rubber flap or brushes to lay the grass down. Homemade attachments made of PVC or lumber can also do a decent job of striping a lawn.

If you are unable to do it yourself, many lawn care companies are now equipped with striping mowers. You may have trouble striping a lawn comprised of certain low growing warm season varieties like Bermuda grass since the low growth habit and coarse leaf blade will not allow it to lie over.

Tom Selwick has worked the past 22 years in the lawn care industry. He suggests usingLawn Service Atlanta for a quality lawn.

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Tom Selwick

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