Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You've Got to Stay 'Mow-Tivated'; Keeping Your Grass in Good Shape a Constant Battle This Time of Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You've Got to Stay 'Mow-Tivated'; Keeping Your Grass in Good Shape a Constant Battle This Time of Year

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY BRITE DELVALLE

You know summer has arrived when the once-a-week mowing doesn't keep up with the grass. Frequent rains and hot weather are what our warm season grasses thrive on.

Mowing is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy lawn - and one of the most overlooked. Improper mowing can lead to thatch buildup and an increase in disease, insect and weed problems. Follow these tips to a successful summer lawn.

- Mow at the recommended height. One of the biggest mowing mistakes made by homeowners and commercial landscape maintenance companies is cutting the lawn too short, referred to as scalping. Mowing height differs by grass type and variety. The mowing height for bahia grass is from 3 to 4 inches, Bermuda grass from 1/2 to 11/2 inches, centipede grass from 11/2 to 2 inches, seashore paspalum from 1 to 2 inches, St. Augustine grass is from 11/2 to 4 inches, and zoysia grass is from 1 to 3 inches.

Notice the large mowing height range given for St. Augustine grass. That's because the varieties have different growth habits that directly relate to mowing heights. Bitterblue, Floratam, Classic, Palmetto, Sapphire and Raleigh should be cut at a height of 31/2 to 4 inches; Delmar and Seville at 11/2 to 2 inches.

- Never remove more than one-third of the grass height when mowing. Removing too much at one cutting will stress the lawn and contribute to thatch problems. For example, if you are maintaining St. Augustinegrass at 3 inches, it should be cut when the grass reaches 4 to 41/2 inches. If the grass has gotten too tall, try raising the blade and reduce the height by mowing twice over two to three days. If the lawn is growing too quick, try reducing the amount of fertilizer and irrigation. To green up the lawn without generating excessive growth, apply an iron product instead. Use iron sulfate at 2 ounces per 3 to 5 gallons water.

- Keep lawn mower blades sharp. Grass blades are wounded when cut and heal quicker from a clean cut vs. a jagged cut. Lawns cut with a dull mower develop a brown appearance because the grass blade is actually torn, not cut. …

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