Does an inch really make a difference?
There are multiple levels of maintenance care for your lawn with numerous environmental, aesthetic and financial benefits. According to a recent Michigan State University research project, proper lawn and landscape installation may add between a 5% to 11% value to your home.
With a combined 45 years of golf course mowing experience on our crew, we have had the opportunity to maintain some of the finest playing surfaces in Michigan. We select the appropriate equipment needed in maintaining our clients turfgrass, whether that is utilizing a large commercial mowing unit, or a small push mower or string trimmers. We want you to have the healthiest and most visually appealing lawn possible to enhance the value and beauty for one of largest investments a family will make in their entire lifetime.
Mowing Height and Frequency
By mowing frequently and maintaining a uniform turf surface, a neat appearance can be achieved, even at taller heights. Unfortunately, however, a common perception is that a short turf is superior in appearance to tall turf. In reality, turf that is uniform appears neater than uneven turf, regardless of height. Proper height and frequency are the two most important aspects of a mowing your lawn.
- Mowing height – Mowing at the appropriate height is important to the health and appearance of your lawn. Turf cut too short usually has a shallow root system, lacks density, and often requires pesticide applications to stave off weed and pest infestations. A lawn mowed at a height of 2 to 3 inches will help keep your lawn healthier and requires less watering and pesticides.
- Mowing frequency –Grass grows at different rates depending on weather, management, and species. A basic recommendation is to remove no more than one-third of the grass blade at any one mowing. For example, Kentucky bluegrass being maintained at 2 inches should be mowed when it reaches 3 inches. This “one-third rule” will help maintain maximum turf root growth. Removing more than one-third of the grass blades may cause root growth to cease while the leaves and shoots are re-growing.
Other mowing recommendations
Occasionally, personal schedules or weather conditions prevent turf mowing when needed. If this occurs, use the one-third rule. If turf is 6 inches tall, and the desired height is 2 inches, the first mowing should be at 4 inches, or at the highest setting nearest to 4 inches. Several days later, mow again by reducing the mowing height using the one-third rule. This mowing should be lower than 4 inches in height. Continue this pattern until turf is adjusted to the proper height.
Mower blade sharpness
Dull blades tear turf leaving a ragged appearance. Water loss and turf diseases can be greater from ragged leaf edges than from cleanly cut grass leaves. So keep those blades sharp; cleanly cut turf generally looks better and is often healthier than turf with torn leaves.
Mow when grass is dry
Mow when turf is dry. Wet turf may clog the mower or form clumpy masses on the turf’s surface. Avoid early morning when the grass is damp from overnight dew or after a rain fall.
Frequent mowing in the same direction or pattern can cause the turf shoots to lean in the direction of cut causing grain to develop. By altering the mowing pattern with each mowing, the turf shoots tend to grow more upright which reduces grain. In addition, altering the mowing pattern changes the position of the mower wheels or rollers at each mowing which can reduce excessive wear in the same location.
Dan’s Green Side Up encourages leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. Using the one-third rule of mowing is especially important because small leaf portions readily filter to the soil surface and decompose quickly. Returning clippings to the turf has several benefits. It obviously eliminates the need for disposal in landfills and also reduces the time and energy required to transport clippings to composting facilities. When clippings are returned, a small quantity of organic matter and substantial quantities of mineral nutrients are returned to the soil, contributing to improved soil conditions.
Clippings and thatch
Clippings are often thought to contribute to thatch build-up. This is not the case. Thatch is composed primarily of turfgrass roots, crowns, rhizomes, sheaths, and stolons. These plant parts contain large amounts of lignin, a waxy substance that decomposes slowly. Turf clippings contain little lignin and are usually composed of at least 75 to 85% water. After drying, short clippings break down quickly, usually with 6-8 weeks. Mowing at proper intervals insures small clipping size and rapid clipping breakdown.
Water is essential for supporting plant life. It is the carrier in which dissolved minerals enter and move about in plants. Water is also necessary for photosynthesis, the chemical conversion of sunlight into carbohydrates, to occur. Plant and environmental cooling also occurs as a result of water release through leaves as vapor. Finally, water has a structural role in maintaining plant turgidity or rigidity; herbaceous plants undergoing water deficit often become limp. Although there are differences among various grasses and plants in their water demands, most lawns and landscape plants normally grown in the north central region will benefit from irrigation that supplements natural precipitation, especially during prolonged heat and drought.