Lawn Scalping – Why is it Bad to Cut Your Grass Too Short?
In lawn care as in any part of life, it’s important to recognize when you have too much of a good thing. As a case in point, think about mowing your turf. It’s important to do so, in the event your lawn grows too lush and you lose your ability to control it. But trim it too short and you prevent the plants from taking in critical energy from the sun and other resources they need to thrive. Only by carefully determining the right length for your grass and cutting it to that exact length each time can you obtain a healthy lawn for the long haul.
What is Lawn Scalping?
Lawn scalping is the process of cutting your lawn so short that you expose the stems. Typically, you want to leave a solid amount of the grass blade intact so that the plants can continue to absorb energy from the sun. If you cut the blade off completely, you expose the grass stem, which is brown in color. A lawn is considered scalped when there are brown patches scattered throughout it, leaving large sections of your lawn without any green blade cover.
Scalping your lawn makes it very hard for the grass to survive and stay healthy. Grass relies on blades to absorb energy from the sun and undergo the process of photosynthesis. With those blades scalped off, the turf has no way to obtain or store energy for future growth. As a result, it is likely to wither and die; at the very least, it won’t be able to grow lusher and stronger down the road.
As with most turf care problems, the best solution to lawn scalping is prevention. By stopping yourself from scalping the turf in the first place, you ensure that your grass will never be short of the energy it needs to thrive. To do this, you must:
- Cut to the Right Length – The most important thing you can do to avoid scalping is to figure out the ideal length for your grass and cut to that exact length. Length varies from grass species to grass species, but in general, cool season grass blades need to be 1 inch in length or longer, while warm season grass should reach 2.5 inches or more. You should adjust your mowing height accordingly.
- Sharpen Your Blade – It may seem counterintuitive, but the sharper your mower blade is, the less likely you are to mow your grass too much. This is because sharp blades cut the top clean off your grass, leaving the lower parts largely unaffected. By contrast, a dull mower blade will tug on the grass and pull lower parts off. Not only does this increase the risk of scalping, but it makes your grass more vulnerable to plant diseases.
- Mow in Cooler Weather – Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day, especially during the summer. When temperatures are high, scalping is especially likely to harm your grass, as the warm weather will cause the moisture inside to evaporate. But if you cut when it’s cool, then even if you scalp the grass a little, it should be able to recover.
While these precautions help you avoid scalping your grass, to begin with, they don’t do you much good if it’s already scalped. In this case, you need to know:
Scalped Lawn Recovery Time and How to Start Lawn Recovery
Since there are numerous factors involved, it isn’t always easy to determine the scalped lawn recovery time. Recovering from scalped grass begins with identifying all the areas that have been scalped. This is important for figuring out the source of the problem. If your grass is uniformly scalped, that suggests you’ve set your mower too low. But if it’s only scalped in certain areas, you’re probably just mowing unevenly, perhaps because the underlying land is uneven.
After identifying the scalped areas, begin watering them gently but deeply several times a week. Fertilize your lawn and apply chelated iron, which the grass can use to regrow its blades quickly and strongly. If scalping only occurs in certain areas, gradually add potting soil or topsoil to those areas. And when the time comes to cut your grass again, make sure you’re mowing to the right height and adjusting for uneven parts of the ground.
Even with these measures, some of your grass may have been too severely damaged to recover. You should distribute grass seed in those areas, which will germinate and replace the compromised blades. Make sure to use the same type of grass for the new seed; not only does this give your yard a complete look, but it makes it easier to cut it to the right length going forward. Then water the seeded areas regularly so the new grass can grow quickly.
If your lawn is damaged, Lush Lawn provides lawn care services including a lawn fertilizer service and restorative applications that will protect your grass as it recovers from pests and lawn diseases. For more information on protecting your grass from lawn scalping and a host of other problems, contact Lush Lawn today.