Will cutting grass make it grow?
Sometimes it feels that way.
You notice that your lawn has grown, so you rush out and mow it only to realize in a week that seems to have grown again, So you mow it again. In the third week when you look out at your lawn it needs mowing yet again. You could be forgiven for starting to conclude that, the more often you mow the lawn the faster it seems to grow. Could this be true?
In short, Yes. Grass depends on photosynthesis to grow which is reliant on the leaf area catching the sunlight. When the grass is cut you have reduced the leaf area available so the plant will maximize its efforts to produce as much volume as possible in the shortest time to make up for the loss.
This results in the grass putting extra effort into producing runners and new growth. This does not necessarily mean growing higher. If the grass is being cut on a regular basis it is more likely to be outward growth resulting in a thicker lawn.
I’m now going to tell you how you should cut your lawn to get a nice thick green lawn that is healthy and will make the neighbors green with envy.
Most problems encountered with a lawn can be put down to improper mowing.
Lawns are made up of hundreds of grass plants. As long as their crowns are undamaged and they have enough food and water they will grow. What a lot of people do not realize is that a grass plant grows by the same rules that govern any kind of plant or tree.
If left uninterrupted it will grow towards the nearest light sauce which is invariably the sun. Just like a plant can get stalky when left to its own devices your lawn can do the same.
Another characteristic that your lawn shares with all the other plants and trees in the garden is that none of them like to cut back by any more than a third at any given time. You can work back the hight of plants and trees over time but not all at once. Your lawn feels the same way.
Every time you mow your lawn you will cause stress. This is not a good thing but it is unavoidable. The secret to a good lawn is to cut a little off each time and mow often. This will leave the maxim leaf area for photosynthesis and reduce stress on the lawn.
There are two main factors which make for a good looking lawn and they are, how often, and how high a lawn is cut.
What is the ideal cycle to mow my lawn?
That depends on the season. It the peak growing season you should be mowing your lawn every 5-7 days depending on the kind of grass you have. When it slows down you can move to a 2-4 week cut.
how to make grass thicker and fuller
In the growing season for the best results, I would suggest mowing your lawn on the five-day cycle with a mulching mower and taking off a small amount every time.
The mulch will go back into the lawn. Lawn clippings are full of nitrogen and this fertilizes a lawn. Here is a paper from the University of Maryland talking about how much fertilizer is needed for a domestic lawn. You will notice that nitrogen features heavily so why not fertilize your lawn regularly and for free every time you mow it?
This is going to be a lot less stressful for the lawn. But doesn’t mulch in areas where the children play or your dog runs around. The one problem with this method is that the mulched grass can be brought inside by people or animals and this could be very stressful for you.A high cut on a new lawn.
What height should I cut my lawn?
Another thing that you shouldn’t overlook is your cut height. This is going to affect how your lawn grows as well, so it is better to get this right the first time.
I have seen a lot of people cut their lawn short but this is not good for the lawn. Use the highest setting on your mower if possible. A good height to cut a lawn is around three inches.
This will give it plenty of leaf area to capture the sun or rain and the height will give shade to the roots. This is also going to be the ideal height to retain any moisture that is around.
You will end up with a great looking lawn that will also be a lot more drought tolerant than its shorter cousins.
Does grass grow faster when it is cut short?
Yes, it will but not for the reasons you would want. It is growing faster to compensate for the damage that has been done. It is trying to grow any kind of mass ASAP because it is not getting enough food or water.
Sometimes in Spring, I get customers asking me “Can you cut the lawn a bit shorter so it doesn’t grow so fast”. This is wrong in so many ways that I inwardly sigh. I then explain if your lawn grows two inches in a week then it is not going to make any difference how high I cut the lawn. It will still grow the same. In fact, if I cut it too low it may actually grow higher.
I would rather not mow a lawn then “scalp it”( cutting way too low). If I am asked to do this I will respectfully decline the job. I have a reputation to keep and I don’t want any of the neighbors to see me scalping a lawn. They might just think that I don’t know how to mow a lawn properly.
What damage could scalping a lawn possibly do?
I am glad I asked that question.
These are a few good reasons NOT to mow your lawn too short.
- It will instantly reduce the amount of food and water available to the plant and this is stored in the leaves.
- It will force the grass to focus on growing leaves and not roots leading to a shallow unhealthy root system
- With weaker roots, the grass will die off easier in a drought.
- A short lawn encourages weeds.
- Cutting too low increases the risk of damaging the crown of the grass plant causing die-off.
A few things to remember for a nicer finish.
Always pay attention to the cut you are getting. If you notice that the grass is looking more torn then cut, it may be time to sharpen or replace the blade. I get about 25-30 hours out of a blade so a once a year sharpen should be sufficient for most domestic lawns.
Change directions every time you mow the lawn. This will keep your grass growing well and it will reduce the odds of getting lawnmower ruts.
Lastly, I would suggest if you really do want a great looking lawn you give it a regular dose of Weed and feed spray. You can attach this to your hose and dose your lawn in less time then it takes to mow it. I have attached a link to Amazon to give you an idea but I am sure you could source this locally if you wanted.
So it’s nice to know that the lawn growing faster when you mowed it wasn’t your imagination but just look at it, as a small price to pay to keep your little corner of the world looking great.
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