What is Lawn Mowing?

Lawn mowing is the periodic cutting of turfgrass to a specified height. Like other green plants, turfgrasses undergo photosynthesis to grow and thrive. However, mowing too closely reduces the leaf area available for photosynthesis, making the turf less tolerant to environmental stresses and more susceptible to weed invasion. Maintaining a closely cut lawn is possible, but it requires more frequent watering and fertilization due to the shorter root system's reduced ability to obtain water and nutrients from the soil. Therefore, it is generally best to maintain your lawn at the highest cutting height that looks good and suits its intended use, typically between 2 to 3 inches.

When to Mow Your Lawn

The best times to mow your lawn are early in the morning or in the evening. Mowing during the middle of the day, when temperatures are highest, can shock the plants. Additionally, it is recommended to mow when the grass is dry, as dry grass allows mowers to function more effectively and reduces the risk of disease spreading from plant to plant.

How to Mow Your Lawn

Follow the one-third rule: never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade in a single mowing session. For instance, if the recommended mowing height for your turfgrass is 2 inches, the grass should not exceed 3 inches before being cut back to 2 inches.

Why This Matters

Turfgrasses, like other green plants, rely on photosynthesis to grow. This process transforms light energy into chemical energy, converting water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds. Cutting more than one-third of the leaf blade reduces the surface area for photosynthesis, resulting in less food for the plant, making it more susceptible to insects and disease. Overcutting weakens the grass and inhibits root growth, leading to a shallow root system that cannot withstand dry conditions, ultimately risking the plant's survival. A large root system supports healthy, tall grass capable of enduring dry summer months.

Lawn Mowing Tips

  • Select an Appropriate Mowing Height: Generally, 2 to 3 inches is ideal. Set the blade to this height and mow frequently enough to remove no more than the top third of the grass. This encourages stronger, healthier roots.
  • Don’t Cut Too Short: Cutting too short can cause rapid moisture loss and foster weed and disease infestation.
  • Keep Lawn Mower Blades Sharp: Sharp blades produce a clean, even cut, while dull blades rip the grass, causing a tan or brown cast and creating a breeding ground for disease.
  • Leave Grass Clippings on Your Lawn: Known as mulching or grasscycling, leaving clippings can reduce your fertilizer needs by up to 25% because they contain essential nutrients. Clippings break down easily and only cause issues if they accumulate excessively.
  • Change Directions: Mowing in the same direction causes the grass to lie over, leading to patterns. Alternating directions reduces compaction and wear and helps avoid creating these patterns.