Mowing your lawn may see like the easiest task when it comes to lawn maintenance. But following a few recommended tips for mowing your lawn could have you seeing a big difference in the health and appearance of your turf. Try a few of the following lawn mowing tips and see if you notice a change.
Best Mowing Practices for San Antonio Lawns
- Sharpen your mower’s blades. It’s best to have your mower blades sharpened about every 3 months, but at least try to sharpen them once a year. Cutting your lawn with dull lawn mower blades causes your grass to shred or tear. It not only harms the aesthetic aspect of your lawn, but the damaged grass blades are more susceptible to disease and insect damage (insects see damaged plants as a welcome sign to come feed.). This task tends to get overlooked often, but can make a big difference to the health of your lawn.
- Mowing height – Rule of thumb: You should only be removing 1/3 of the leaf tissue each time you mow. The exact height for which you shoot for is going to depend on the *type of grass you have in your landscape. But you should always keep your mowing height consistent. There is really now need to move the height of the mower up and down if you keep it at the setting recommended for your turf type. (See below)
- Frequency of mowing – Mow when your lawn needs it. The frequency of your mowing doesn’t matter as much as keeping it at the recommended height. (See above and footnotes below) If we’ve had heavy rains in the spring and you’ve fertilized, your lawn could be going gangbusters and you may have to mow it every week. If we are on water restrictions for the umpteenth week and your lawn is drought stressed, you probably don’t need to mow it til it recovers. Know the *optimal height for your lawn and strive to keep it there.
- Alternate mowing paths – If you take the same route each time you mow, you might find you’ve created a visible pattern in your lawn. So the next time you mow, try something different. Mow diagonally, or start from where you normally end, just switch it up each time.
- Leave the grass behind – As long as your turf is disease free, leaving your grass clippings behind and not bagging them is beneficial. You are basically returning nitrogen back to your turf as the grass clippings breakdown (free fertilizer!). Spread out big clumps of grass clippings with a rake if needed. (If turf is diseased, bag and discard into the trash or your lawn bin.)
- Compost your lawn clippings – Grass clippings are an awesome way to add nitrogen to your compost piles. Bag up disease-free, weed-free, lawn clippings and toss them into your compost bins. Our warm season grasses head into dormancy about the time the leaves begin to fall. Before storing your mower, use it to run over the leaves and mulch them so they can continue to add nutrients to the turf.
- Clean your mower before storing – When it’s time to store your mower, give it a good cleaning before you put it to bed. Empty out the remaining oil and gas, and if you choose, you can sharpen blades now so it’ll be one less chore to take on before spring.
Recommended mowing heights for specific warm season grasses:
- Bermuda: 2 1/2″ – 3″
- St. Augustine: 2″ – 4″
- Zoysia: 1/2″ – 2 1/2″
- Ryegrass: 1 1/2″ – 2 1/2″
As long as you are mowing within these ranges, you are allowing your grass to grow consistently at its preferred height. Follow the “no more than 1/3 removal of leaf tissue” and you and your lawn should be sitting pretty.
Extra lawn mowing tips:
Even before grass begins growing in spring (when temps get around 65 and higher), you can bring your lawn mower out early and ward off early weeds from germinating. Mowing weeds helps keep seed heads from dispersing and germinating. Bag your mowed weeds and toss them in the trash.
Don’t forget to fertilize in spring and fall so you’ll have a healthy, vibrant lawn to mow!
~The Happy Gardener