Don’t cut the lawn too short. This is a major source of lawn
problems for many people who believe that is what they do on golf
courses and so that is what you should do at home. Golf courses use
growth inhibitors to restrict the growth of the grass, and the grass
is able to reach a ‘maturing’ height where it can prosper
much shorter than normal.
Cutting the grass short at home has several disadvantages:
a) It encourages moss
b) It provides an ideal environment for the transmission of weeds
c) It prevents the grass reaching a ‘maturing’ height.
d) It provides no shade to the roots in very hot weather
e) It increases the amount of watering required.
Do not cut the grass any lower than 1 inch (1½ inches in
summer) and preferably only 1/3 of the length each time. Longer
grass provides a greater surface area for photosynthesis and therefore
healthier grass. Leaving the grass a little longer also leaves the
‘crown’ of the grass intact (where the grass leaf grows
from). Longer grass grows more slowly and therefore you can reduce
the amount of mowing required, which in turn allows the grass to
fully recover. All in all, longer grass gives a better lawn.
Mowing once a week is usually sufficient. In spring when grass is
growing more rapidly, mowing twice a week may be necessary.
Don’t leave the cuttings on the lawn. Eventually it will biodegrade
and put nutrients back into the lawn, but it will take several weeks
and during that time several cuttings will form a thick sub-surface
thatch that will begin to rot – providing the perfect damp
and dark environment that moss thrives in! Leaving cuttings on your
lawn also means your house is always full of grass!
Make sure the blades on the mower are sharp. Mowing with a dull
blade tears the end of the grass blade leaving them ragged. These
later turn brown giving the lawn a dried out look.
In the heat of summer make sure you have a regular and frequent
watering pattern. Watching the grass turn yellow in very hot weather
(a natural reaction) over a period of 2 to 3 weeks and then deciding
to give it a good sprinkling is probably the worst thing you can
do. The chances are you will only give a surface watering which
will not penetrate the soil to any great extent. As a result the
roots all turn upward to get to the water, which is fine until the
next hot and sunny day when the roots all die in the heat. It is
one of the fastest and most effective ways of destroying a lawn.
If you are going to water, water well and water often so the roots
still manage to find water deep in the soil. Otherwise just leave
it – unless there are extenuating circumstances most lawns
will come back to their original condition when the rain returns.
As a guide during the main part of the growing season turf will
ideally be watered twice per week, in the early or late part of
the day to avoid evaporation.