Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mowing Your Lawn: Do It Right

One of the most important things you do in your landscaping is mow your lawn. Your home’s curb appeal goes down the drain if you have poor lawn cutting techniques that damage the lawn and promote weeds and insects. Instead, your goal should be a neatly manicured lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood. How do you know the best mowing practices? Here are some guidelines to help you achieve success.

Select the right mower.
Rotary mowers are the most popular type used for both residential and commercial lawns, although they vary depending on the size of the job. Homeowners usually opt for push mowers on small to medium yards where speed and power aren’t a requirement. Larger riding mowers are a good choice when push mowers aren’t sufficient. However, keep in mind that the blade turns slower on bigger mowers and can rip the turf, which increases your lawn’s risk for disease. Faster blades make sharper cuts that are healthier for your lawn. Heavier big mowers can also cause soil compaction, inhibiting the ability for air, water, and nutrients to pass through your soil. If you use a larger mower, aerate your lawn annually to combat soil compaction issues.

Set the right height.
The height that you mow your grass is critical to its health. It varies somewhat depending on the type of grass, but generally the most important thing to know is the 1/3 rule. This rule means that you shouldn’t cut any more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any one mowing. Cutting more than that at a time can cause drought damage or root stunting, especially during the hot Houston area summers. If your lawn need to be cut more than 1/3 of a leaf blade, take several passes on your lawn over several days. This give the grass time to recover and your lawn won’t be shocked so much.

Decide if mulching is right for your yard.
Many lawn mowers come with the ability to mulch or shred grass clippings and spread them back to your soil surface. Adversely, bagging and removing clippings means your lawn will need more fertilizer because valuable nutrients leaving with the clippings will need to be added back. Some homeowners are afraid that returning clippings to your lawn creates a layer of thatch that water and nutrients can’t get through, but this is false. Mulched clippings from a routinely mowed lawn acts as an organic fertilizer. Thatch from clippings is only a problem for lawns that are cut from high growth to extremely low heights.

Mow at the right time.
How often you mow depends on the amount of rainfall, sun exposure, temperature, length of day, and fertilizer applications. Therefore, you shouldn’t set a strict schedule for mowing. It is better to cut the lawn when it reaches the needed height. And during the hot Houston summer months, lawns should be mowed less frequently to lower drought and heat stress.

Know the right way.

Always alternate the direction that you cut your lawn every other time you mow. Don’t follow the same pattern each time, because it can increase soil compaction and cause inconsistent growth patterns. Also, make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp. Disease and ripped turf become issues when dull blades are used for cutting. Make a habit of sharpening your lawn mower blades at the beginning of the mowing season, and you can make it easy on yourself by taking the blades to your local hardware store.

Contact C4 Landscape & Design today for all your landscaping needs.

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