Catching up on the Mowing

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
If you are behind on your mowing, rest assured you are not alone! Here are a few suggestions to help you get the lawn back under control with a minimum of fuss.

If you (or your lawn care company) fertilizes by the calendar, consider skipping an application to slow the growth rate down a bit assuming your turfgrass is already nice and green. There are two exceptions to this. If your grass is weak when compared to the weeds-the grass needs the nitrogen to maintain a competitive advantage so continue to fertilize. The second exception is the type of turfgrass. Cool season grasses like Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass (generally anything growing in the shade) should not be fertilized under any circumstances this time of year.

It is better for the long term health of the grass to raise the mower height of cut (H.O.C.) for a time or two and then gradually lower it back down over the next few mowings rather than scalping it off all at once. A good rule of thumb is to try not to cut off more than 1/3 of the leaf surface with a mowing. This allows the plant to remain healthy while allowing the cuttings to decompose quickly and easily. While I understand the desire to mow as infrequently as possible, when the time spent dealing with excessive clippings is considered, little time is usually saved by an additional mowing or two.

Another issue related to excessive growth is of course weeds. They are everywhere. Just a note of caution if you are considering spraying: Make sure you understand the product and what it will/will not control as well as the use instructions on the label. For example, many products have “do not spray when temperatures exceed X” warnings on the label. This is important information and ignoring can leave you with a bigger problem than the weeds in the form of damaged turf or nearby plants.

Finally, just remember how desperately dry and dusty things have been the last few summers. Our landscapes desperately needed this rain and dealing with a few extra mowings seems like a small price to pay.

For more information of this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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