Mowing height way too short for fescue
Summer has made an abrupt entrance into Oklahoma, after a somewhat cool spring. It’s way too hot for mid-June now, but can’t do much to adjust the outdoor thermostat. And, rainfall is scarce all of a sudden. So expect our cool season turf such as Tall Fescue to start looking rather stressed very soon.
I was out looking at a fescue lawn yesterday that was not looking good. While there were many issues going on, such as dry soil, some dog damage, evidence of brown patch disease earlier in spring when we were wet and humid, one huge problem was the short mowing height of the fescue turf. It was being mowed at the same height of the bermudagrass in other sunny parts of the lawn, a little over 1” it looked like. While bermudagrass can do well with shorter mowing heights such as 1” or 1.5”, fescue should never be mowed shorter than 2”, especially as we get into the hot summertime. Preferred mowing height for fescue is 2.5” and even 3”. So if you have some fescue and some bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, you’ll need to mow each at different heights. I know it can be a lot easier to just mow all at the same height, and even some “professional” mowers do that, but it’s not the right thing to do.
Having a good sharp blade is also important. Dull blades can tear up the grass blade, causing a brown irregular edge at the cut, giving the turf a brown appearance. This also increases disease issues in turf, making it easier for a fungus to enter the plant.
So raise your mowing height now on fescue turf to 3”. There is an inverse relationship between mowing height and root depth, so the higher you mow, the deeper the roots will grow. And with a hot, dry summer, we want a deep, extensive root system in order to do a good job of absorbing that deep soil moisture. Our Soilbuilder organic soil amendment we use on fescue during the summer also helps with the development of a stronger root system for summer survival of fescue.
For more information on proper mowing, visit here: PROPER MOWING