Thursday, June 24, 2021
June 24, 2021

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Gardening With Allen: Higher mowing height can lead to healthier lawn



My lawn looks very good right now, but when summer comes, my neighbor’s lawn looks thicker and greener. He says I should raise my mowing height. Does mowing height really make that much difference? The golf course mows fairways shorter than I do and they always look good.

Not only mowing height but mowing frequency are very important for best lawn appearance. Although golf fairways are mowed short for best playing performance, they are also typically mowed every three days. They also use more fertilizer, water and pesticides.

Lawns should be mowed so no more than two-fifths of the blades are removed at one time. If mowed at 1 inch they should be mowed by the time they reach 1 ¾ inches. If mowed at 1 ½ inches, they can be allowed to grow to 2 ½ inches. The higher mowing height allows for less frequent mowing.

The leaf blades are the manufacturing plant of the grass plant. The more leaf surface, the more food can be made for plant growth. That is why higher mowing height usually produces thicker lawns.

Research has shown that grass roots are directly proportional to the leaf surface. Lawns mowed at 2 inches have twice the root system of lawns mowed at 1 inch. When weather warms, the extra roots make a big difference in grass performance. Not only that, but a larger root system means less frequent irrigation and a smaller amount of water is needed.

Most lawn weed seeds require light for germination. Higher mowing heights with thicker growth means less light reaches the ground to stimulate weed growth.

You can compensate for shorter mowing height by mowing more frequently and by applying fertilizer more frequently. You can usually get by with a spring and a fall fertilization at the higher mowing heights. When mowed shorter than 1 ½ inches at least one summer fertilization will be needed for optimum lawn performance.

If you use a lawn service, you can specify the mowing height. If mowed weekly, you will definitely notice better lawn appearance at a higher mowing height. You can also request that the mowers be washed before mowing your lawn so you do not get weed seed deposited from a previously mowed weedy lawn.