Mowing

The warm-season turfgrasses are cut higher in the fall to provide insulation for low temperatures. When they are growing during the summer, they are cut lower to promote lateral spread and a “tight” turf. Cutting turfgrasses below their recommended height will discourage deep rooting. Cutting too low may cause the turf to thin, because it becomes less able to withstand heavy traffic and environmental stresses such as low soil moisture and extreme temperatures. Cutting bermudagrass above its recommended height may produce a stemmy turf, characterized by leaves being produced near the end of upright stems. This kind of turf is prone to scalping. Turfgrasses grown under shady conditions should always be maintained at a slightly higher cut in order to increase leaf area to compensate for lower light levels.

Ideally, turfgrasses should be mowed on a schedule that is based on the amount of plant growth between mowings. This will depend on the level of soil moisture, nutrients, and temperature and the amount of sunlight. Since these conditions fluctuate from week to week, it follows that plant growth also fluctuates. Therefore, the ideal time to cut turfgrasses is at a point so that no more than about a third of the leaf area is removed at any one mowing. This means cutting U-3 bermudagrass at 1 inch each time it reaches 1.5 inches and cutting Tifgreen bermudagrass at 0.75 inch each time it reaches 1 inch.

It is preferable not to bag grass clippings since collecting clippings removes valuable nutrients from the lawn. Regardless of the type of mower used, it is essential that mowing equipment be kept sharp and in good operating condition. Dull, improperly adjusted equipment bruises leaf tips, reduces growth, and causes a dull-cast appearance over the turf area due to frayed leaf blades. Other mowing practices should include varying the mowing pattern throughout the growing season to distribute wear, reduce soil compaction, and improve turf appearance. Secondly, make turns on sidewalks and drives or make wide turns to avoid tearing the turf. Lastly, avoid mowing wet grass. It is harder to obtain a quality cut, clippings form clumps on the mower and turf, and disease organisms are more likely to be spread.