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Grass Clippings Don't Catch Newsletter

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Don't Catch the Clippings


Let’s talk about the lawn grasses today. The most important cultural practice associated with maintaining any turfgrass is mowing. When part of the grass plant’s leaf system is removed by mowing, the plant reacts by using high amounts of carbohydrates to replace the leaves that were cut off. Only when the leaves are replaced do the roots and stems start growing again. The greater amount of leaf surface that is cut off at each mowing, the longer root and stem growth is delayed. Research found that when no more than 1/3 of the leaf system is removed per cutting, the negative effect on root and stem growth is minimal. Some grasses, like Bermudagrass, can tolerate being mowed very low, but all grasses do better with more leaf surface left to collect sunlight.

Get rid of the grass catcher. Grass clippings should be left on the turf. They do not contribute to thatch. They feed the microbes and are nothing but beneficial. Clippings should only be caught and moved to the compost pile when scalping prior to overseeding in the fall. If you don’t choose to overseed, that’s fine, I don’t do it either.


Turfgrass Best Height Mow When Height Is

Bermudagrass 1 ½ inches 2 ¼ inches
Hybrid Bermudagrass 1 inch 1 ½ inches
Kentucky Bluegrass 2 inches 3 inches
Texas Bluegrass 2 inches 3 ½ inches
Buffalograss 3 inches 4 ½ inches
Centepedegrass 2 inches 3 inches
Perennial Ryegrass 2 inches 3 inches
St. Augustine 2 inches 3 inches
Tall Fescue 2 inches 3 inches
Zoysiagrass 1 ½ inches 2 ¼ inches

Recap: Mow a little higher than normal. Start the season at 1 1/2" to 2" and raise to at least 3" by mid summer. Mow weekly or more often if necessary, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Put occasional excess clippings in the compost pile. Do not send clippings to the dump. Do not use line trimmers around trees. Do not scalp the lawn in the spring. Scalping is hard on equipment, exposes the soil to sunlight and weed germination, and wastes organic matter. Stop using synthetic salt fertilizers and enjoy the ease of the natural organic program.

To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

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Naturally yours,
Howard Garrett

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