Turf Tips: Mowing
by Nel Newman
Make that first cut a good one--don't bruise turfgrass with a dull mower blade. Have it sharpened, or do it yourself, but be certain the grass blades are cut evenly for uniform appearance. Lower the mower blade to the minimum recommended for your grass for first mowings. Even if you use a mulching mower, rake or bag the first cutting to speed greenup.
Mow at the right height for your grass. Recommendations range from 1 1/2" for bermuda and zoysia, to 2" for centipede, 2 1/2" for bluegrass, and 3" for St. Augustine, perennial rye grass, and fescue. Mowing too close is called 'scalping' for good reason; don't let it happen.
Reseed or sod problem areas as soon as soils warm in your area for maximum impact this season. For steady growth, and predictable mowing routines, use controlled release fertilizers. But feed problem areas more often using soluble formulas to increase their growth rate and mowability.
Wait at least a month after planting before mowing or feeding new sod. Look for fertilizers formulated specifically for new lawns. Regular mowing encourages a strong mat of turfgrass so essential to healthy growth. Don't wait until it's ankle deep out there to cut the grass if you're trying to develop a long lasting sod.
If you've got moss growing where you should have turf, it's likely that both drainage and soil pH need changing. Water should never sit on a lawn for more than one hour. A soil test will guide you to liming for correct pH; grow better grass and the moss will disappear. Meanwhile, remember to wash the moss off the lawnmower blades.
If winter's weeds or clover overtake turf, spot treat them before they flower to prevent reseeding. Use fertilizer plus herbicide products to help control summer weeds before they become established. If summer weeds don't thrill you, but neither do weed killers, remember that judicious watering, mowing, and fertilizing help lawns overtake weeds naturally.