Ag Notes: Spring mowing most important of lawn duties

March 02, 2004|JERRY LITTLE

It's difficult to envision mowing your lawn this spring when frost greets you nearly morning. Yet that first spring mowing, usually in late March, begins your most important annual lawn duties.

The first mowing makes the lawn look spring-like and very attractive. Regular mowing hardens the grass for drought and heat stresses later on.

So when the first clump of grass grows above the mowing height, mow, even if a lot of the yard doesn't need to be mowed yet.

Not all grasses start growing at the same time.

Grass that grows on northern slopes, or in heavy clay soil, will start growing several days later than normal. Grass that wasn't fertilized in the fall or early spring also has a delayed growth.


Following recommendations for mowing height and frequency will make your care duties easier and result in a more attractive yard.

If your mower has a fixed, all-year height, set it at 2 1/2 inches.

However, if you can easily vary the height, set it at 1 1/2 to 2 inches for the first several times you mow this spring.

The shorter mowing height will help remove a lot of the winter-burned, brown leaves. And by exposing more dark green growth, it will change your lawn into the most uniform, attractive in the neighborhood. Move the height up to 2 1/2 inches after you mow the grass several times.

To protect your grass from summer heat and drought injury, raise the mower to 3 inches.

However, remember that high grass, especially tall fescue, falls over and mats down during hot summer weather, causing increased summer disease problems. In the fall, lower the mowing height to 2 1/2 inches. For winter, you might want to lower it again to 1 1/2 to 2 inches. This height improves the turf's winter and early spring color.

Never let grass go through the winter at a height of 4 or more inches, because it will mat down and become diseased.

When it's time to start mowing this spring, how frequently should you mow?

Generally speaking, mow often enough to remove no more than one-third to one-half of the grass height. If your mower is set for 2 inches, mow again when grass height reaches approximately 3 inches. Be sure not to scalp the lawn by mowing most of the green leaves.

For tall fescue lawns, a rule of thumb is to mow at five-day intervals during the summer, and at seven-day intervals the rest of the year.

If you have a Kentucky lawn, a seven-day interval usually is sufficient at a 2 1/2 inch mowing height. You probably can extend that interval during hot, dry weather.

Don't mow by the calendar. Instead, watch the grass grow, and mow frequently to remove no more than one-third to one-half of the grass height.

For more information on lawn care, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service.


The school cafeteria had a breakdown in the kitchen and served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of the usual hot meal.

After lunch a satisfied second-grader complimented the cafeteria manager: "Finally, you gave us a homecooked meal."

Jerry Little is Boyle County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

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