The smell of fresh cut grass wafting through the neighborhood is one of the surest signs of spring. You should already be thinking about lawn care since it’s time to clip the grass for the first time. Your most important annual lawn duties begin with that first mowing.
The first mowing makes the lawn look spring-like and attractive and can improve the aesthetics and value of your property. Subsequent regular mowing hardens the grass for drought and heat stresses that may occure later on. So when the first clump of grass grows above the mowing height, mow — even if a lot of the yard doesn’t need to be mowed yet.
Not all grasses start growing at the same time. Grass on northern slopes, or in heavy clay soil, will start growing several days later than others. Grass that wasn’t fertilized in the fall or early spring also has a delayed growth.
Following recommendations for mowing height and frequency will make your lawn-care duties easier and result in a more attractive yard.
If your mower has a fixed, all-year height, set it at two and one-half inches.
However, if you can easily vary the height, set it at 1.5 to two inches for the first several times you mow this spring. The shorter mowing height will help remove a lot of the winter-burned, brown leaves. Exposing more dark green growth will transfigure your lawn into the most uniform, attractive one in the neighborhood. Move the height up to 2.5 inches after you mow the grass several times.
To protect your grass from summer heat and drought injury, when summer arrives raise the mower height to three or 3.5 inches. However, remember that extra high grass, especially tall fescue, tends to fall over and mat down during hot summer weather causing increased summer disease problems.
Once you get the mowing under way, you should mow often enough to remove no more than one-third to one-half of the grass height.
If your mower is set for two inches, mow again when grass height reaches approximately three inches. Be sure not to scalp the lawn by mowing off most of the green leaves.
For more information on lawn care, check out the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Turfgrass Science lawn care information website at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/ukturf/lawns.html or contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service.