Proper Mowing After Rainy Periods
After the second rainiest spring in Oklahoma history, it’s been difficult to keep up with the mowing schedule on Tulsa area lawns. And, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass lawns will be exploding in growth soon with the hot temperatures, good soil moisture, and assuming that our LawnAmerica fertilizer is in the soil doing its job!
The general rule of thumb is to never take off more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade with each mowing. However, when it rains all the time, and one cannot even get a mower on the lawn for up to two weeks, the grass is going to be really high, so you’ll need to make some adjustments. If you mow at the regular height for bermudagrass, say about 2.5” now, and the grass is 5-6” tall, then you are removing over half of the leaf blade. This not only looks bad, especially with all the heavy grass clippings left on the turf, it’s also bad for the health of the turf. Excess clippings left on the turf can lead to thatch problems, as the heavy clippings cannot decompose as light clippings do. When more than 1/3rd of the grass plant topgrowth is removed, the turf then puts all of its energy into recovery and growing the leaf and blade back, at the expense of the root system. So the roots just shut down temporarily, which is bad for the turf.
So raise your mower to the highest setting, so you are not removing as much of the grass. Wait a few days then, lower the setting to normal, and mow it again. So by taking the mowing height down in stages, you’ll lessen the shock to the turf and ease it down into the proper height.
A deep, extensive root system is key for a healthy turf, so anything which hurts the root system will harm the turf. With all the rain, the turf roots have had plenty of soil moisture on the surface, so that’s where they grow. Let the top inch or so dry out some, so that the roots will then have a motive to grow deeper in the soil to absorb that deep soil moisture. A homeowner can also help train turf roots to grow deeper with mowing a little higher than normal, as there is a direct relationship between mowing height and root depth.
With the good soil moisture, now is a great time to aerate your bermudagrass lawn. This is another cultural practice which helps the health of a turf root system.