One of our favorite summertime activities is getting the mower out and cutting the grass. It’s important not to overdo it, especially in the summer, but mowing is actually helpful to the lawn. It doesn’t just keep the yard looking neat, but it helps it stay resilient under the stressors of the warmest months, including drought, insects, and heat. A few simple guidelines will have your lawn kept trim, fresh, and vibrant throughout the summer.
Benefits From Mowing Regularly
Cutting the grass is more than yard manicuring; it actually helps the grass stay in a healthy condition. The main benefits your lawn receives from being cut include:
- Growth support – Chopping off the tips of the blade signal to the plant that it needs to heal, so resources are directed towards growth to replace what was lost. When the grass gets cut, it allows all the blades to be evenly exposed to sunlight.
- Pest and disease control – Trimmed grass allows better airflow to the ground and keeps excess moisture from encouraging fungal growth. It also helps keep pests from establishing habitats in overgrown blades.
- Thatch control – Some thatch buildup is important to protecting the grass, soil, and roots, as well as adding nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Too much can build up moisture, encourage pests or fungal growth, or contribute to thinning of the grass by crowding it out. Grass clippings can be left to build thatch or bagged to prevent buildup.
How Grass Grows
Grass blades grow from the stems on their roots at ground level, either straight out from the ground or along stolons (above ground root extensions) or rhizomes (below ground root extensions). The grass blades grow as cells reproduce and elongate, stretching upwards to take advantage as of much sunlight as they can.
The grass blades perform photosynthesis by absorbing carbon dioxide and water vapor from the air and using the molecules to create glucose for energy. This process is performed by the chlorophyll that the blades store in their tissue. This green substance is made from nitrogen, hydrogen, magnesium, and carbon that the plant gets from the air and soil.
Energy that grass makes throughout the day is stored to be used at night for growth, so the amount of chlorophyll the grass makes will affect how healthy the plant is. Long blades mean more chlorophyll, so when resources like water and nutrients are plentiful, the grass will grow at a pace.
Fertilizing In Summer
It’s recommended to avoid applying fertilizer to the lawn in the mid to late summer. In the late spring and early summer, warm season grasses will be growing and absorbing all the nutrients they can as they regrow from dormancy. This is the time to feed the lawn because grass that gets too much fertilizer in the hotter parts of summer may be stressed by the growth output.
If your lawn needs to be greened up in the summer, consider an iron application rather than nitrogen. This will support the chlorophyll process without pushing growth, which may cause you to need to mow more than you should need to.
How Often Should I Mow My Lawn In Summer?
During summer, there is less rain than spring, and temperatures are higher. The heat and dryness can stress out the lawn, so summer grasses need to be watered regularly to keep them refreshed. The rate of your grass’ growth will vary by species, while the amount of water and nutrients your lawn gets, and the amount of light it gets will vary by region. In general, however, people tend to cut their grass once or twice a week in the summer, depending on how fast it’s growing.
The best way to guide your summer mowing frequency is to monitor the height of the grass. When your grass reaches a certain point past the mowing height for that type of grass, it will be time to mow. The rule of thumb for cutting grass is to not cut more than 1/3 of the blade off. Otherwise, it can get stressed and not be able to produce enough energy to repair as quickly as it would like. This might lead to yellowing or browning before it grows back and greens up.
Some warm season grasses, like Bermuda, centipede, and zoysia, like to be cut lower than others. If you’re going to cut one of these down to 2 inches, it’s best to let them grow to 3 inches. If you want to cut the lawn to 2.5, you can let it grow to 4 inches. Bahiagrass likes to be a little taller, around 3.5 inches, so it should be cut by the time it reaches 5 inches. For St. Augustine grass, it should be cut to 4 inches when it reaches about 6 inches.
Is It Better To Cut Your Grass Short Or Long In The Summer?
It’s better to cut your grass a little on the longer side during the summer. In the middle and late summer, when temperatures are highest, the grass will be under the most stress, and slightly longer grass blades allow them to absorb more energy, which then helps them recover from daytime stress during the night. The grass blades also cast shade onto themselves, so the extra length also protects from the intense light.
Make sure your mower is at the right mowing height, and if in doubt, give it another half inch in height to be sure you’re not cutting too low. A consistent mowing schedule will keep the lawn trim despite being a little taller.
What Time Of Day Is Best To Mow During Summer?
It’s best to mow on dry days in the early to mid mornings, or late afternoon and early evening. These are times of the day when the grass is either rested or about to enter into a resting phase. The middle of the day is hot and the lawn is already under stress, so avoid mowing between 10am and 6pm. Don’t mow a wet lawn if you can avoid it since wet grass doesn’t cut as cleanly as dry grass. Avoid mowing morning dew and rainy days.
Should I Short Mow The Lawn At The End Of Summer?
Some people like to mow the lawns a little shorter than usual at the end of summer to increase aeration, decrease thatch, and prevent fungal growth as the cool season wetness takes hold. Be sure not to do this too early; wait until temperatures are at or below 75 degrees. Mowing short when temperatures are still too high can stress the lawn, and it may not be able to recover in time for dormancy when fall does arrive.