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Mowing Height (in inches)
2 to 3
2 to 3
2 to 3
Mowing height Mowing turf at the appropriate height
is important to turf health and appearance. Turf cut too short usually has a shallow root system, lacks density,
and often requires pesticide applications to stave off weed and pest infestations that commonly occur in stressed
lawns. Conversely, tall turf is often considered to be unattractive because of wide leaf blades, low density, and a
clumpy, unkempt appearance. In addition, tall turf may not be satisfactory for some sports
Mow turfgrasses according to the heights presented in Table 1. Note that a range is listed for each species. When
healthy and actively growing, turf can be mowed at the lower heights; raise mowing heights within the desired range during warm-hot periods or
when turf is stressed due to drought, disease, shade, insects, or traffic. The heights listed in this table provide a balance between turf appearance and
Mowing frequency Turf should be mowed as necessary,
not according to a preset schedule. Turfgrasses grow 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 a two-inch height should be mowed when it reaches three 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 regrowing. This practice can be
especially destructive if practiced continuously over a period of successive mowings. Roots may not have a chance
to fully develop and the plants will thus be more susceptible to environmental and management stresses. Maintenance
of healthy, growing turf root systems should be a primary consideration of any turf management program.
Other mowing recommendations Occasionally, personal
schedules or weather conditions prevent turf mowing when it is needed. If this occurs, attempt to mow using the
one-third rule. If turf is six inches tall, and the desired height is two inches, the first mowing should be at
four inches, or at the highest setting nearest to four inches . Several days later, mow again by reducing the
mowing height using the one-third rule. This mowing should be lower than four inches in height. Continue this
pattern until turf is adjusted to the proper height.
Two other basic mowing recommendations are to maintain mower blade sharpness, and to mow when grass is dry. Dull
blades tear turf leaving a ragged appearance. In addition, turf water loss and the incidence of turf diseases can
be greater from ragged leaf edges than from cleanly cut grass leaves. Thus, cleanly cut turf generally looks better
and is often healthier than turf with torn leaves. Also, mow when turf is dry. Wet turf may clog the mower or form
clumpy masses on the turf's surface.
Scalping When turf is cut excessively short, scalping
can occur. Scalping can occur as the result of irregular land contours, excessive thatch. infrequent mowing, or
poor mower adjustment. Scalped turf usually appears brown and stubbly due to the removal of healthy leaves and
exposure of turf crowns, dead leaves, or even the bare soil. Avoid scalping turf as it can result in unattractive
appearance, and in some cases, severely scalped turf may not recover.
Mowing pattern Frequent and close mowing in the same
direction or pattern can cause the turf shoots to lean in the direction of cut causing grain to develop. On closely
clipped turf, such as a golf course putting green, grain is undesirable because it can alter the path of a putted
ball. 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.
On taller turf, such as parks or home lawns, cutting in the same direction at each mowing is usually not a problem.
Taller turfs are less prone to develop grain than are short mowed turfs and the turf use is generally not affected.
If it is convenient, alter the mowing pattern in these areas at each mowing. In other areas (e.g., small gardens or
sloping areas) use the most convenient or safest mowing pattern at each mowing.
Athletic turf managers sometimes use mowing patterns to provide visual interest for their fields. On these fields,
the turf is mowed frequently in the same direction using reel mowers to provide striped or checked patterns.
Football and baseball fields are often cut in this fashion.
First and last mowing of the growing season The first
and last mowing of the year are sometimes handled differently than other mowings. Before the grass begins to grow,
in spring mow the turf slightly shorter than normal to remove dead blades and other debris. Be careful not to scalp
turf during this initial mowing. Once turf begins active growth, mow at the proper height and frequency. The last
mowing of the year should be at the normal mowing height. Turf should neither be cut excessively short nor allowed
to become excessively long going into winter.