Are You Cutting Your Sod the Right Way
Proper mowing for sod grasses is the insurance for your investment. Proper cutting height and frequency, regular fertilizer & weed control, and appropriate watering are all equally important for a healthy lawn.
Regular and proper mowing is also important. Mowing should only remove 1/3rd of the height at a time. Sharp blades avoid ripping the grass. Warm season grasses are healthiest when maintained at 1 ½ – 2 ½ inches tall. A healthy lawn will need mowing at least 3 times per month in the growing season. Too many maintenance companies cut grass too tall and too few times per month. This is usually a financial decision rather than “what’s right for the grass”. Real world conditions like budget and strange weather will always present challenges but the most consistently healthy lawns will be mowed using these guidelines.
Bagging versus Mulching Your Grass Clippings
Mowing at a taller height and less often will lead to build up of larger clippings that take too long to breakdown and return nutrients to the soil. This is called thatch and if this layer becomes too thick, it can lead to an unhealthy, shallow root condition. If you are mowing a bit too infrequently, you may need to bag the clippings. A sharp blade and frequent enough mowing will avoid thatch build up and allow the simpler mulching approach. I recommend our customers hire an independent chemical maintenance company to take care of fertilizing, and weed control.
The exception to the above rules is draught. Extreme heat and extreme draught do rarely occur in our region. Our warm season grasses will show signs of stress and the blades of grass will curl up and wilt. This is the sod protecting itself. During the worst conditions, sod will basically go dormant until it has enough moisture to work with. During times like this, raising the mowing height or postponing mowing altogether can be helpful. Taller grass can shade the soil better. When conditions return to normal, try to provide some extra TLC with regular watering for a while. The sod will bounce back even if it has to grow back from the roots.