Are You Ready to Mow? A Guide to Summer Lawn Mowing

Is there any sound that says “summer” more than the echo of lawn mowers up and down the neighborhood? Hardly a Saturday goes by that mowing the lawn isn’t on the list of chores to tackle – but did you know that you might not need to mow every week?

It’s true. Although grass grows more quickly in the summer months, the secret to keeping your lawn looking great is knowing exactly what it needs during the warmer months and avoiding anything that could overstress the grass or cause it to get dry, damaged, or diseases. So whether you do it yourself, or you hire a lawn and tree service to take care of your lawn, it’s good to know the right way to mow in the summer.

The Wrong Way to Mow

When you’ve spent time and money trying to get your grass healthy and green, the last thing you want to do is anything that will make it turn brown or due. Yet many homeowners unwittingly harm their grass with some bad habits. For example:

·     Mowing early in the day, or during the hottest, sunniest part of the day

·     Not maintaining their mower blades

·     Cutting the grass too short

·     Not following the best practices for your type of grass

·     Leaving clumps of grass clipping on the lawn

Any one of these habits can leave your lawn looking less than its best, while also increasing the likelihood of invasive pests or disease.

Getting Ready to Mow

Taking care of your grass in the summer begins with two important steps: 1. Learning the type of grass you have and 2. Preparing the lawn mower.

Knowing the type of grass you have is important because not only does it guide your fertilization needs, but different types of grass have different requirements in terms of grass height for optimal health. Cool season grasses, for example, like tall or fine fescue, are healthiest at heights between 1.5 and 4 inches; Kentucky bluegrass, another cool season grass, thrives at .75 to 3 inches tall. Warm season grasses, on the other hand, generally should be cut shorter. Bermuda grass should be between .5 and 2 inches, St. Augustine at 1.5 to 3 inches, and Zoysia between .5 and 3 inches. If you don’t know what type of grass you have, get expert help from a lawn service to determine exactly what your lawn needs for care. Keep in mind that warm season grasses should be cut to the shorter end of the range in spring to allow for new growth, whereas cool season grasses should be cut shortest in the fall to prevent snow mold and other diseases.

The other step to preparing to mow is getting the lawn mower ready. While an oil change and tune up is always a good idea every season, it’s just as important to sharpen the blades. When the mower blades are dull, they bend and tear the blades of grass rather than cutting cleanly. This damage increases the likelihood of disease, and it’s harder for the blades to “heal,” increasing the chance they will turn brown. So, keep your blades sharp, and inspect them regularly to keep cutting smoothly.

When and How to Mow

For most lawns, a weekly mowing schedule is perfectly fine. Generally speaking, the grass should be cut every 5-8 days to keep it healthy. Again, set your mower blades to the correct height. In the summer, especially during hot and dry periods, longer is better. Longer grass is better able to hang on to moisture and helps shade the roots to ensure healthy growth. If you’ve been experiencing drought conditions, the grass growth will slow down, and you can spread out mowings for a few extra days.

It’s best to avoid mowing in the heat of the day, or in the early morning. When you mow too early, the grass could still be wet with dew, making it harder to cut and contributing to clumping, which will kill the grass underneath if they aren’t raked up. It’s best to mow in the evening, because the grass will have time to heal overnight. When it’s cut midday, the hot sun will beat down on the fresh cuts all day, possibly burning the grass.

Mowing your lawn in the summer isn’t complicated, but it does require some preparation. When you follow these tips, your grass will stay green and healthy all season.