Want a great looking lawn ? Here are the best lawn mowing practices

Written by Bryan Clayton on September 29, 2014

What is the formula for success in the quest of a beautiful think lush lawn?  There are several factors, here we will discuss best mowing practices.

In the upper southeast, cool season grasses such as Tall Fescue are prevalent.  Bermuda and Zoysia grass also grow in the upper southeast, however, are not as popular due to fact that they go dormant each year around mid-fall and remain unattractive and dormant until May.   Cool season turfs such as Tall Fescue require more diligent care than warmer season turfs such as Bermuda and Zoysia. However, turfs like Tall Fescue have a lush green appearance more months out of the year, so the additional investment of care is worth it for many homeowners who love a thick beautiful lawn. There are many facets to a comprehensive turf care program for cool season turf such as fertilization programs, irrigation, disease prevention, insect control.  One other important factor, best mowing practices, is one of the most effective ways easily within your control to promote a healthy turf.  If you live in the Atlanta Georgia area, fescue and Bermuda turf will be predominant.  If you live in St. Petersburg Florida, then St Augustine turf will be predominant. See our guide for caring for St Augustine here.  

Mowing Blade Height

The height at which perform your lawn mowing  for your Tall Fescue lawn is crucial. Mowing it too short can create severe stress on the lawn, causing it to burn out, while creating an environment favorable for weeds to move in.  Cut it too tall, and the grass will look lain-over and unsightly.  Tall Fescue turf should be mowed at a height of 3.5” to 4” tall.  Additionally, it’s crucial to mow the lawn as frequently as needed. While typically every week will suffice, it’s never healthy for the turf if you cut more than 1/3 of the grass height at a time.

Keep your lawn mower blade sharp; a good rule of thumb is to sharpen your blades every 3 months if your lawn is ½ acre or less in size. Mowing with dull blades will rip the grass blades making them susceptible to disease and insect feeding.

Mowing Pattern

We all get stuck in a routine; however, this is not a good idea when it comes to mowing your lawn.  Changing the pattern you take each time you mow is optimal.  Whether you are using a push mower or riding mower, the wheels can leave tracks; when you take the same path each time you mow, you will wear in tracks into the lawn.  A simple solution is to alternate directions, horizontal, vertical, or even diagonal paths.

Clippings: Bag, Discharge, or Mulch

With respect to cool season grasses, bagging in the spring and fall is optimal. This reduces thatch and leaves a neater appearance. This requires more work, as bagging and clippings and disposal takes additional time; however, it will yield a better result. During the summer months when Tall Fescue turf is not growing as vigorously, mulching and/or discharging the grass will be sufficient.  However, you may have to make additional passes to evenly distribute clippings for a neat appearance.  Over-mulching of clippings while the Tall Fescue turf is growing strong in the spring and fall will be counter-productive as the thatch build up can choke out the healthy turf and also impede new seed germination in the fall.

Implementing best mowing practices, hence, optimizing the way you mow the lawn is one of the easiest ways you can increase your chances of success for a beautiful Tall Fescue lawn. If you are using a professional service, you will want to observe and direct how they are mowing each week, as many do not automatically perform best practices for mowing; also make sure you confirm how often they are sharpening their blades. Perform best practices for your mowing, and you can focus on the more challenging aspects of creating and maintaining a beautiful lawn.