K-State Expert’s Guide to Smart Lawn Mowing: Enhancing Drought Resistance and Avoiding Damage

By Trish Svoboda

It’s time for lawn maintenance to begin, specifically mowing, and K-State horticulture expert, Cynthia Domenghini suggests that the ideal height for mowing a residential lawn varies based on the grass species, the lawn’s usage, and the season.

She suggests mowing grass at the highest recommended height for each type to enhance drought resistance through deeper roots. Only a third of the blade should be cut at once. Lowering mowing height can cause stress and temperature damage. Overgrown lawns should be gradually trimmed, with breaks between mowings.

Domenghini advises that the frequency of mowing should be determined by the lawn’s growth rate, rather than a fixed schedule, to avoid leaving excessive clippings on the grass. Timely mowing results in shorter clippings that can be left on the lawn, contributing nitrogen back to it. However, long clippings, which can block sunlight and encourage disease, should be collected and disposed of.

Domenghini said it’s important to keep the mower blade sharp for a neat cut. She warns that a blunt blade can rip the grass, leading to whitish tips.

She also recommends alternating the mowing pattern each time to avoid soil compaction and damage to the turf from the mower wheels. As the grass blades tend to lean in the direction of the mower’s path, changing the pattern allows the grass to stand more upright.

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