Proper mowing practices are essential in maintaining a quality lawn. Most lawn grass types in our area should be mowed at a height of 2 ½” to 3”. Higher mowing encourages deeper rooting, and therefore stronger grass plants. A lawn should also be mowed frequently enough so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade needs to be removed at one time. Cutting more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off can shock the plants into a stressed condition.
Another critical factor in mowing is maintaining a sharp mower blade. A sharp mower blade makes a clean cut, which heals quickly with a minimum of moisture loss. A dull mower blade makes a blunt, uneven, ragged, damaging cut that takes longer to heal. This results in more moisture loss, browning tips and increased disease susceptibility.
It’s also important not to mow grass during the hottest part of the day or when the turf is showing signs of heat stress. A hot lawn mower going over a hot lawn during hot weather can cause a heat stress browning effect within 24 hours. In cases such as these, daily watering for 1 to 2 weeks may be needed to restore the lawn back to its full green color.
Every lawn is a little different when it comes to watering needs.
Factors that affect these needs include: sunny versus shady areas; soil type and depth; grass types; mowing height; recent, current and future air temperatures; humidity; and rainfall frequency.
In general, it’s best to learn your lawn’s watering needs by monitoring for signs of heat and moisture stress. A lawn will typically turn a dark, purple-like shade when heat or moisture stress is beginning. This will lead to a dormant brown color if the lawn does not get water quickly. By observing this process, you can develop a watering schedule that fits your lawn. More frequent watering may be needed during extreme hot weather periods or heat waves.
With that said, over-watering is very common, especially with the automatic sprinkler systems that are so common today. Generally, watering should be done often enough to prevent heat stress dormancy of the turf, but no more often than is necessary to accomplish that. Deeper, infrequent watering encourages deeper rooting. This leads to stronger, more heat-resistant plants. On the other hand, frequent, light watering encourages shallow root systems and promotes moisture-dependent disease activity.
Daily watering should never be needed, except during extreme summer heat waves. It is also best to water in the early morning hours, if possible.