Grass Mowing – Lawn Maintenance Schedule
Lawn Maintenance Schedule
The most important part of caring for a lawn in yourschedule is mowing; any other stretch of grass which is not mown regularly at frequent intervals becomes a field, a paddock, or pasture land. In order to mow correctly, it is important to understand the needs of grass. Like any other plant, it requires food and water, and air in the , and it requires these things even more than most other plants, because its growth above ground is being constantly and frequently removed.
Over the years, by experience and research, it has been gradually ascertained which grasses stand up best to what, after all, is rather drastic treatment. There are not many plants which would survive frequent removal of their top growth, and fortunately it is the fine grasses which will grow best under these conditions. The coarse grasses gradually die out.
Grass mowing must be correctly done. The height of cut is important; it should not be so low that the grass is shaved to ground level, brown patches appear and moss and other unwanted plants move in; and it should not be so high that the grass turns brown at the base, while remaining green at the tips. It should be cut at such a height that it is encouraged to send out side-shoots from the base of the main stem – this is known as ‘tillering’ – so that it becomes thick and mat-like. In practice this means cutting so as to leave the grass about ½ inch high. The average lawn certainly does not want cutting closer than this.
Frequency of Grass Cutting
During the main growing season, grass should be cut at least twice a week, and really fineshould be mown three times a week – which may seem the counsel of perfection but in fact is necessary. If cutting is not carried out at this frequency and, as all too often happens, is only done once a week, seed-heads of coarse grasses such as will start to appear on the lawn.
More frequent grass mowing eliminates these coarse grasses or prevents their appearance since it encourages the fine grasses. Another disadvantage of only mowing once a week is that the grass is cut very close, too close, to avoid having to do it more than once, and severe defoliation of this kind weakens the fine grasses over a period of time, so that all sorts of other troubles follow –, coarse grass, moss and so on. Oddly enough, mowing frequently results in the removal of less top growth than if the lawn is mowed once a week.
When grass mowing is started in the spring – which may be as early as March, if the weather is mild – do not mow too closely the first time, slightly under one inch will be sufficient, and thereafter reduce it to half inch. In the autumn again make it slightly higher. Grass cutting can be carried out in the winter, to tidy the appearance of the grass, and prevent it from getting shaggy; it grows a little at that time of the year, though only very slowly, and on mild days, when the weather is dry, and the ground is not frosted or waterlogged, the grass can be topped to keep it trimmed. The middle of the day is quite often the best time, when the dew has dried off the grass, and any sun there is will be at its warmest. If frost follows this, the grass will not be damaged, but remember, do not mow when there is frost actually on the ground.
Grass Mowing – New Lawns
The grass of a lawn newly made from seed should not be cut until the stems are about 2 inches high. For the first few times of grass mowing, the mower must be set at maximum height and the blades must be very sharp, otherwise there is a risk that the young plants will be pulled right out of the ground. The setting of the machine can be lowered progressively as the grass settles down and becomes fully established, but caution is best exercised if there is any doubt about the strength of the grass.
The day before mowing a newly seeded lawn for the first time, take the mower (assuming it is of the roller type) over the grass with the cutting blades disengaged, to consolidate the soil round the grass roots and press in any stones on the surface. The frequency of cutting will depend on the time of year when the grass is sown (spring or late summer) and, by definition, the rate at which it grows.
A lawn made from turves normally has several months to settle down in before the grass mowing season arrives, but even those lawns laid at the end of the recommended turfing season (March) should be sufficiently well established to allow mowing to be carried out within two or three weeks.