Measuring Lawn Mower Height


Proper mowing is singularly the most important thing that you can do to improve the quality and health of your lawn.  Knowing when to mow and how high to mow is extremely important.  This regulates many things such as turf density, color, thatch, and even the lawn’s ability to manufacture and store food.  Improper mowing is without a doubt the most devastating problem a lawn can encounter.  Remember the lawn is grown in a micro-environment and must be treated as such.

Generally speaking, you should never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade.  In order to do this you must mow frequently enough to keep from removing too much.  You cannot mow too frequently, however, you can wait too long.  For the most part during the cooler months, less than every other week is sufficient.  During the growing season usually once per week is good.  If you mow every other week during the growing season you are going to cause a thatch build up which will eventually kill the lawn.  In the winter excessive thatch will smother the lawn.  

Normally mulching is best because leaving clippings does not produce thatch.  It is best to bag your clippings if you are leaving piles of grass because you waited too long to mow.  Mulched clippings also return valuable nutrients and organic matter back to the soil.  

The type of mower is generally not a factor unless you have hybrid grasses such as hybrid Bermuda grass and hybrid Zoysiagrass.  In this case, a reel-type mower is necessary because it does a better job on these lower-growing grasses.  Also, lower-growing grasses require increased mowing frequency.  Unless you like to mow it is best to stay away from these lower-growing hybrid grasses.  Rotary mowers do a very good job on most lawn grasses.

When mowing your lawn it is a good idea to mow your lawn in different directions each time you mow.  This will make your lawn appear more evenly mowed and will reduce rutting caused by riding mowers following the same path each time.

We recommend that you mow Centipede grass at 1 1/2” to 2”, and St. Augustine grass at 2” to 2 1/2”.  If you have a combination of both as many lawns do, simply mow at 2”. Common Bermuda grass should be mowed 1” to 1 1/2” high.  Once you select a mowing height stay with it all season long.  Do not gradually raise your heights as the season progresses because this will increase thatch.  Remember after the first Frost or after your lawn turns brown in Winter lower your mower one notch and remove brown leaf blades of grass.

Bagging will be necessary as you do this because you will be getting a whole lot of brown grass blades and thatch out of your lawn.  Leaving the grass short over Winter will decrease problems with Winter Kill, and diseases, and will help your lawn turn green faster in Spring.

After you have completed this one-time short mowing raise the mower back up to your normal
season-long-cutting height.  In the case your lawn greens up and turns brown again with a late killing frost in the Spring, simply repeat this procedure.

Remember: On Stoloniferous grasses such as Centipede grass and St. Augustine grass the depth of the roots is more related to the length of the stolons rather than to the height of the grass.  You can actually increase the quality and depth of your root system by adhering to proper mowing heights and frequency of mowing.