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When Mowing Kills Your Lawn

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Whether you're responsible, or it's the kid from down the street you hired for a few dollars, improper lawn mowing during summertime can damage your grass and leave it vulnerable to stress diseases. That's why many people leave the mower in the hands of a qualified lawn-service expert. But you can mow safely in the heart of summer if you follow some tried and true guidelines.

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  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
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First, let's look at the how and why of proper hot-weather mowing. In the middle of your hottest months, the surface of your closely cropped lawn can easily climb two dozen degrees above the outdoor air temperature. Heat is a killer. So is moisture loss, which occurs when you cut the lawn too frequently during high temperatures. Heat-stressed, dry lawns are extremely susceptible to insects, spotting, weeds, and root disease as they try to heal from literally being scalped.

Properly mowed lawns, on the other hand, retain moisture, fostering deeper root growth, and the healthy blades of grass produce more of the nutrients necessary for your lawn to thrive in difficult conditions.

Sharpen Your Mower Blades, and Your Technique

Sharp blades cut--not shred--your grass. It's important to realize that mowing actually creates a routine lawn injury. Minimize damage by using sharp blades and mowing in cooler morning or evening hours--but only when the lawn is dry. In summer months, you may have to mow more frequently, but always mow at a higher cut. If you're cutting more than 1/3 of the total height of the grass, you're scalping it.

Here are some suggested mowing heights based on your grass type:
  • Fine fescue: 2 1/2"-3 1/2"
  • Zoysiagrass: 1/2"-1"
  • Kentucky bluegrass: 2 1/2"-3"
  • St. Augustine grass: 3"-3 1/2"
  • Centipede grass: 1-1 1/2"
  • Tall fescue: 2 1/2"-3 1/2"
  • Perennial Ryegrass: 2 1/2"-3"
  • Bermuda grass: 1/2"-1"
  • Zoysiagrass: 1/2"-1"

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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