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Let me say a few more things about mowing....first....Cutting Height

How high should you cut your grass?  Well, five factors determine the best cutting height:


Use of the Area

Environmental Conditions

Turf Health

Mower Type

Turfgrass species is the main factor.  The location of the crown for each species is different.  Some species have elevated crowns so they would suffer from thinning and loss of vigor if the cutting height is too low.  Unless you are preparing for a golf tournament in your yard, you should cut at the upper limit for the species you have.  If you have a great deal of shade, cut it high to maximize photosynthesis.  Temperature is also a consideration.  When it gets hot; raise the height.  Also, cut it high if the turf is recovering from some sort of stress or damage. 

Scalping is the excessive removal of green shoots during mowing, causing a stubbly, brown appearance.  When a lawn is scalped, root and shoot growth stop immediately. 

Mowing Frequency

Mowing frequency should be determined by growth rate.  And growth rate depends on environmental conditions, species and management principles.  Under high growth periods, you may have to cut the grass more than once a week.  Increased nitrogen fertilization and irrigation will stimulate growth. 

A widely accepted rule of thumb is the “one third; two thirds” rule.  Simply stated, remove no more than one third of the leaf tissue at any one mowing.  Mowing too frequently is also a hazard.  Mowing too frequently makes turf susceptible to disease because of repeated wounding of the leaf tips, which may allow fungi and other pathogens to enter the plant.

Turfgrass tends to grow or lean in the direction of mowing.  Mowing in the same direction each time may allow a buildup of clippings in rows which can result in excessive thatch accumulation.  Alternate your direction of mowing.

Mowing Equipment

Mowers basically have two cutting types: scissoring or impact.  Reel mowers are scissor type mowers.  They consist of 5 to 11 blades attached to a cylinder called a reel.  They push the grass leaves against a cutting bar called a bed knife.  Reel mowers are used in high quality turf areas like golf courses.  They cut real close and make a beautiful stand.  But they are expensive, hard to find and your ground must be perfectly level and smooth.  There are some small "push" powered reel mowers.  I recommend those mowers a lot for Warriors who have real small lawns, like around a townhouse, or for Warriors on the overweight program.

An impact mower is what most of us are familiar with – a rotary mower.  It cuts the leaves with blades that rotate horizontally at high speeds.  The mower cuts the grass by the sheer speed of the blade. 

With either type of mower, having sharp blades is the culminating point in this battle.  Sharpen your blades each year before mowing season.  Dull blades can reduce the quality and heath of the turf drastically.  Now, sharpening blades may throw them out of balance.  If you or Bubba at the local hardware store do not know how to properly sharpen blades, and balance them, don't do it.  I just buy new blades and recycle the old ones.

Do not mow when the grass is wet.  That tends to rip, shred or pull the grass. 

Returning grass clippings to the ground is a touchy subject.  Too little has no effect.  Too much can create thatch and can eventually choke out a lawn – by not allowing air, water and other nutrients into the soil.  Decomposition of some clippings provides nutrients.  But, too little doesn’t do anything and too much can be a bad thing.

Always cut at the highest BLADE SPEED possible.  The mower should move slowly.  Let the blades do the work. 

HIGH AND SLOW - that's what I always say.

Mandatory Annual Safety Briefing

Each year more than 110,000 great Americans are injured using lawn mowers.  Here's what the Army Corps of Engineers has to say about mower safety:

Lawn Mower Injuries:

§The power lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home.

§The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year lawn mowers injure over 110,000 people seriously enough to require treatment in hospital emergency rooms.

§More than 9,000 of the people hurt were younger than 18 years. Older children and adolescents were most often hurt while cutting lawns as chores or as a way to earn money.

§Injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones,burns, and eye and other injuries. Both users of mowers and those who are nearby can be hurt.

Four types of power lawn mower accidents cause the majority of injuries:

§Contact with rotating blade.

§Propelled objects. Rocks, glass and wire are hurled at initial speeds above 170 miles per hour. Objects may be thrown 50 feet or more.

§Overturning. Thi soccurs primarily when riding mowers are used on steep slopes or embankments. Victims may be pinned under the mower or come into contact with the blade.

§Riding mowers running over the victim. Accidents occur if the operator fails to look when backing a riding mower, children playing are seriously injured, or an operator pulls a power mower backward over his or her foot.

Other Hazards:

§The muffler and cylinder head heat up during operation, and remain hot for sometime after the engine has been turned off and can cause burns.

§Most mowers are powered by gasoline-driven combustion engines. Gasoline is a very explosive and flammable material that should be treated with respect. Gasoline is flammable because it vaporizes with air to form a mixture that ignites easily. Vaporization can occur in temperatures as low as zero degrees.

Follow these guidelines:

§Read the operator’s manual. The manual explains safe procedures that should be followed

§Check guards and shields. Be sure all protective devices are in place before starting the mower. Shields and guards are for your protection and will prevent  injuries if used.

§Don' tmow when other people are nearby.

§Wears trong shoes or boots, not flip-flops or sneakers.

§Pick up rocks, sticks, pine cones, and toys before mowing, even if you are using a mower that collects the clippings automatically.

§Wear goggles or safety glasses, and wear hearing protection. Once you get used to protecting your hearing, you'll be amazed at how annoyingly noisy a mower is when you aren't wearing protection.

§Fuel your edger and mower outside, and do it before you start, not during operation.

§If  you are going to remove or replace the blade, disconnect the spark plug first.

§Turn off the mower and wait for the blade to stop spinning before you empty the grass catcher, unclog something from the blade or under the mower, or push the mower across rocks or gravel.

§Riding mowers aren't meant to carry passengers.


§Make sure other people, especially children, are out of the area. Young children should be supervised while the yard is being mowed. The mower operator may no thear or see children approach.

§Never point the discharge chute at anyone.  Never run the mower over gravel.

§Do not mow wet grass. Wet grass is slippery and the operator can lose footing, slip under the mower, or allow the mower to roll backwards. Wet grass also clogs the discharge chute and can cause the engine to falter.  When this happens, always turn off the engine and wait a few seconds for the blades to stop rotating before correcting it.

§Use care on inclines. Some slopes are too steep to mow safely. Always push walk-behind mowers across slopes to avoid coming in contact with the mower (e.g., by sliding down the hill onto the mower, or allowing the mower to roll backwards on top of operator).  Drive riding mowers up and down slopes.

§Never leave a running mower unattended.

Do your PMCS (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services), wear the right gear and be aware of your surroundings.  Hooah?  ESSAYONS!


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