The lone voice of horticultural reason

Don’t mow your lawn short in mid-summer.

Since we’re heading into the peak heat of summer, I thought I’d toss this one out again for new visitors, even though this and other lawn care-related bits of advice run throughout the site like snippets of creeping charlie.

It’s getting hot, and the heat will last through most of August. The longer your lawn after it is cut, the healthier the individual grass plants. If you cut your lawn down to an inch or inch-and-a-half, you’re asking for trouble. Mowing a lawn this short means mowing often, more than once a week, and that shocks the grass plants (you try losing a finger once a week). Short lawns respond with short, shallow root systems, meaning they need frequent watering, and fertilization. And you’re doing all this to the lawn when it’s ninety degrees outside.

Now is the time to RAISE the cutting height of your lawnmower; that’s what those odd, never-used “C” and “D” settings are for. Cut your lawn to three inches in mid-summer, then cut again when it has grown an inch-and-a-half. The longer blades shade the soil surface and roots, and keep the ground cooler. Longer grass, longer, healthier roots. You don’t get brown-outs, or weak patches of lawn that fall prey to weeds and lawn diseases. You can water less. You need not fertilize, if you fertilized in late spring. You only have to mow about every eight to ten days.

Use all the extra time and saved effort to plot new ways to develop your landscape incorporating trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers where all that grass now lives.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener