Yes, that is a question.
It seems like just last month we were discussing how and why we manage turf at certain heights when mowing. Now, here we are in June at the official start of summer, hoping for some rain to keep our turf from going dormant and/or burning out from the current stress. With this comes some very important decisions with our mowing services and irrigation systems. One of the most important decisions to make is to mow or not to mow.
During this time of the year, cool season turf grasses are under a great deal of stress. Lawns that are not irrigated during the hot, dry weather can go through a great deal of stress. This stress can cause the turf to go into a dormant stage and turn brown in color. Dormancy is actually a protective mechanism allowing the lawn to survive during unfavorably dry conditions. During an extended drought of three to four weeks along with temperatures in the mid-80’s or higher, dormant grasses continue to lose moisture from the crowns of the plants. If these conditions continue over time, with a continued loss of moisture to the crown, the plants can often die. By not mowing as often, and irrigating following the guidelines outlined in our recent post about watering best practices, we reduce the amount of stress on the plant and allow them to retain more moisture in the crown.
Based on industry standards and proper horticulture practices, you should not remove any more than 1/3 of a plant to keep the stress levels from reaching any higher than they already are, and possibly causing them to die back. With that said, this is where we have to make the right choices on when to mow. Turf grass varieties, local weather conditions, proper irrigation practices, and short-term weather forecast all can change how we need to approach our mowing decisions. Do we mow this week and only cut 1/4 of the plant? Can we wait another 7-10 days and still not have to remove more than 1/3 of the plant? Given these considerations and the over-arching goal to manage a healthy lawn, at this time, we have decided to mow our properties between 3” and 3.5”. Keep the turf higher will alleviate some of the stress and also help keep the crowns cooler (and hopefully moist). This may mean that we move to a bi-weekly or 10-day rotation between visits. This is why you may see a very abnormal mowing schedule during this time.
Not only is mowing the turf a crucial part of keeping turf grass from becoming dormant and/or dying during these times of year, but it also plays an important role in keeping undesired weeds and disease from entering our lawns. Mowing too often and cutting too short will introduce a condition that promotes weed growth. Keeping the lawn too long in contrast, and not mowing when needed, will create conditions where diseases thrive.
After all is said and done, your landscape management team at Brian-Kyles considers a multitude of factors to make the right horticultural-based decision for the health and wellness of your turf. If you have any other questions specific to mowing decisions made, please ask your Brian-Kyles dedicated management team.