Mowing your lawn at the correct height is, by far, one of the best management strategies that you can implement in your lawn maintenance routine. Not only is it cost effective, but mowing at the correct height will help to reduce the amount of pesticides needed to maintain a beautiful lawn. The two most common turfgrasses we grow in south Louisiana are St. Augustine and centipede. St. Augustine should be mowed at 2 to 3 inches while centipede can be mowed at 1 to 2 inches.
When a lawn is mowed too short, often called scalping, it creates an open canopy to the soil layer beneath the lawn. When sunlight can easily reach this soil layer , weed seeds have a greater chance of germinating. This is because most seed of weeds that occur in our lawn need sunlight to germinate.
Not only does mowing at the proper height reduce the potential of weeds germinating in our lawns, it will also help our lawn’s root system. The root system of a grass, below the soil, is proportional in length to the foliage above the soil. Mowing lawns shorter than recommended will reduce the length of foliage above the soil, which will weaken the root system of that turf below. It will cause a great deal of drought stress on the lawn, which leads to a potential collapse and possible death of the lawn in areas of the yard.
Mowing at the proper height will not prevent all weeds from germinating or encroaching in your lawn. If you still have weeds in your lawn this spring, consider using a selective herbicide. Selective herbicides are those that can be sprayed to selectively kill a particular plant while not killing others.
Weeds such as henbit, chickweed and annual bluegrass continue to grow in the lawn during our early spring conditions. Using a combination of 2,4-D along with atrazine will take care of most of your weed issues in the lawn. Be sure to always follow the label directions.
During the first few mowings of the season, be sure to put the bag attachment on your lawnmower. Using the bag on your mower will help to pick up the leaves that have fallen throughout the winter. Removing the leaves as the lawn begins to grow will help ensure there are no barriers to lawn growth during those first few critical weeks.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture