Fortunately our main turf species generally cope well with regular mowing. However, if the root system is under stress for any reason (e.g. too dry, too wet, too hot, too cold, or damaged by disease, insects or recent herbicide treatment), the safest option for lawn health is to raise the height of cut and to mow more frequently to compensate.
The best cut height varies with the turf species grown. Leaving the grass longer helps retain soil moisture and reduces susceptibility to disease. However, as the grass density tends to thin when allowed to grow taller, this can also favour weeds establishing.
Under shorter cutting heights, the grass will thicken and choke some weeds, but this could also lead to increased thatch build-up in some grasses.
Shorter mowing heights give a more manicured look to the lawn, but can also lead to some scalping if not mown frequently. Provided the turf is not water stressed, lower mowing heights can be used during the warmer months when the growth rate is higher.
Warm season turf grows most actively above 25°C, while growth ceases below about 10°C at night. Other factors such as the species used, the age of the lawn, evaporation rates, rainfall and watering, the soil’s physical and chemical status, fertilizer application, weeds, insects and disease can all affect how often your lawn needs mowing.
As a rough guide, winter green couch should be mowed fortnightly in summer and every three to four weeks in winter, blue couch can be mown every Fortnight in spring and summer and every 4weeks in autumn and winter. The coarser, more popular buffalo grass cultivars grow well in summer, particularly when fertilized. They require frequent mowing to minimize scalping and maintain good turf quality – typically every 2-3 weeks under good growing conditions, but during winter, buffalo grass can be left for at least 4-6 weeks between mowing.
Catching or mulching?
The decision to catch or to mulch grass clippings is an individual one. For lawns with a thatch or disease problem, it is desirable to catch and remove clippings. However, for an establishing or drought tolerant lawn, mulching will help retain soil moisture, return nutrients to the soil and build up soil organic matter. Because there is no catcher to be emptied, mulch mowing speeds up the operation. Wet grass will quickly increase the weight of the catcher.
Catching the clippings has the advantage of providing finely divided raw material for composting or for mulch over garden beds and around trees. However, it can also create a disposal problem. Mulching, particularly when damp or wet, can leave lawn clumps that will need to be spread out.
Whether you catch or mulch, mowing dry grass will always be easier and more effective than mowing wet grass.
Ensure irrigation is maintained on a regular basis to prevent dry spots.
Pick up sticks, stones and debris before mowing to prevent injuries and mower damage from projectiles.
Call Ryan Now to have your FREE turf assesment