View Full Version : Bermuda mowing heigth

Promow Professional
01-03-2007, 10:04 PM
Everything I've ever read about mowing height for bermuda say's to mow @ about 1.5 to 2.0 inches. It seems mowing at these heights leaves my yards looking scalped does anyone have any advise.

01-03-2007, 10:21 PM
Depends on type of bermuda.

Tif can handle low mowing heights, with proper care/maint/mowing techniques. They use it golf courses, after all.

Other types of bermuda can handle lower mowing heights, then say St Augustine grass. But, again...proper maintenance/feeding/watering/aerating, etc., become more important the lower you get with the stuff.

I mow Common Bermuda at the same heights as I do St. Augustine lawns...since it's so often mixed in. 3 1/2 to 4". It does just fine. If it's just a Bermuda/zoysia type of lawn, I try to get it around 2 1/2, mebbe 3". Much shorter and it becomes more difficult to use rotary mowers without some scalp damage. Unless you sodded a nice, smooth parking lot.

01-03-2007, 10:25 PM
topdress and keep mowing.

01-03-2007, 10:25 PM
We cut most of our Bermuda at 2.5-3 inches.

01-03-2007, 10:35 PM
2.5-3" here. save the low mowing height headaches for the golf course.

01-03-2007, 10:56 PM
I scalp it early, before it starts to green up, and remove the clippings. Not quite a true scalp, but about 1 to 1 1/2". (Some operators call this dethatching) Then as it starts growing, first cut will be at 2" usually, in this area that will be about Apr. 20 to May 1. Second and third cuts might not be needed more often than 2 or 3 week intervals. By the 4th cut will be at 2 1/2", probably cutting weekly, by mid June cutting at 3".

Irrigated lawns usually continue at 3", non-irrigated wll probably raise to 3 1/2" if it gets dry earlier in season than usual. First half of Sept. will probably cut 1/2" lower, and may finish season with a cut at 2". Both of these reduced height cuts will be bagged, even if lawn normally isn't bagged through the season. Fyi, I treat the Zoysia varieties that are found here the same way. I'm in south half of Zone 6.

I have customers that want it cut much shorter than I want to cut. Usually try to convince them that the lawns will look really green much longer in the heat of the summer if it is not cut short. Also, will require a lot less watering (if non-irrigated and they are inclined to water) to maintain green.

I have a selfish reason for cutting longer, too. If cut short and beginning to go dormant in the heat of the summer, I will be asked to skip cuts. If I am cutting at my preferred height, the growth will continue at least 3 or 4 weeks longer in a dry spell, and the customer will see that cutting is justified, and I will be spared the hassle of customers trying to get me to skip cuts.

Perfect Lawn
01-04-2007, 06:30 AM
Bermuda likes to be cut often in the summer, if you cut Bermuda and it gets brown areas then it needs to be cut more often. We used to cut ours every 4-5 days in the summer.

01-04-2007, 09:05 PM
Everything I've ever read about mowing height for bermuda say's to mow @ about 1.5 to 2.0 inches. It seems mowing at these heights leaves my yards looking scalped does anyone have any advise.I dont cut bermuda shorter than 2.5 inches...most of them I cut closer to 3 or 3.25 especially as the summer gets hotter. The only grass I cut really short (2") is a customer with zoysia grass...I cut it on fridays and he cuts it once in between my visits. Plus he waters and fertilizes like crazy!!

DFW Area Landscaper
01-04-2007, 10:12 PM
The only way to adhere to the university guidelines on bermuda cutting height, 1.5" max, is to mow at least 3 times per week, striping the lawn in the same exact pattern with each cut.

The reason you ask this question is because you want your bermuda lawn to green after it's mowed, instead of white or yellow, right?

When you cut a bermuda lawn, if you cut stem, you will see white and yellow coloration. When you mow every other day and crush the stems down in the same direction each time, only the leaf blades (the green part of the plant) are standing up by the next cut. The stems haven't had enough time to fully recover and stand straight up, so they don't get cut. So when you mow, you are cutting only the green part of he plant (the leaf blade) and the lawn looks green when you mow it instead of white or yellow.

This is how golf course fairways are mowed. Next time you play golf, you will notice that the fairways are striped and every other stripe is combed towards the tee box and the ones in between are combed towards the green. Your fairway shots will be a lot easier when the ball lands on a stripe that's been combed towards the green.

Striping kits will help a lot, but you have to be able to mow at least 3X per week.

Another thing about striping bermuda this way is, it looks best if you are staring down the length of the stripe with the sun to your back. When the sun is in front of you or you are looking at the stripes perpendicular, it doesn't look as impressive.

DFW Area Landscaper

Villa Lawn Maintenance
01-05-2007, 01:01 AM
We start out with a double scalp (mow at 11/2" in one direction and then turn around and mow at 1" in another direction) then we move it up to 2.5" or 3" by mid June we are at 3.5" to 4". Our tiff yards we mow low but we also mow them twice a week.

Az Gardener
01-05-2007, 01:18 AM
Any time you cut off more than 1/3 of the blade height you will have yellow grass. If it is just in spots I would look to contour problems like bumps or holes and ridges. We cut common Bermuda at 1"-1.5" and starting in the late spring and throughout the summer we use a high K fertilizer.

And what DFW said.

01-05-2007, 01:29 AM
Yes, you can mow it at "recommended" heights. But not everywhere. Factors to consider are:

1. smoothness of the surface. You can mow lower if the terrain is flat and well graded. The more curves and dips you have, as well as plain old lumpy sod, the more scalped it will look at 1.5" or even 2.5". 1/4" difference in mowed height from one square inch of a lawn to the next will show.

2. Universities may also recommend mowing with a reel mower, which is often just not practical and few are willing to pay for it.

3. The characteristics of your mower. A smaller deck will usually handle the undulations better and give a better look at low mowing heights. I cut one last year at 1.75" with a 21" that looked butchered with even a 32" deck.

Some mowers are better at handling low mowing heights than others. Look for a short wheelbase, a deck with less "trim edge", and plenty of antiscalp rollers. Floating decks are probably better even in smaller sizes, but forget it with fixed decks bigger than 36". I see plenty of guys using them, even on slopes, but the look is not what I'd find acceptable.

4. The growth rate. Well fertilized and irrigated Bermuda will outgrow your ability to mow it low on a once-week basis. You'll wind up with stems showing and not much green. Slow the nitrogen if you want to mow low just once a week.

5. Variety of grass. Hybrid Bermuda seems to look better when mowed low than common Bermuda. It has a more horizontal growth habit.

6. Customer preferences and expectations. Some want it mowed low, period, and don't mind the somewhat scalped look. In a few days it will often leave a nice soft green color. For that reason, if that's the case, suggest mowing it on Mon/Tues so that it looks its best on the weekend. Cutting it low on Friday may actually have it looking its worst when the customer is around using the lawn.

Conversely, make sure customer expectations are realistic. Explain the limitations of mowing low less than 2x/week with large mowers on poorly installed or undulating lawns. Some people just don't get it and want you to zip in and out on a 60" so it's cheap and leave it looking manicured.

7. Region of the country. Bermuda has different varieties and attributes in different areas. An area with dry summers might mean you can mow it once a week low, or it might mean you'd be better off leaving it long so it handles the drought better. See what others are doing in your area.

8. I've found that nothing looks worse than Bermuda mowed at 1.5" with a few scalped spots than a Bermuda lawn mowed at 3" with scalped spots. Holes, ruts, concave surfaces, etc will affect the cut tons more than cool season turf. Once a lawn "gets away from you" and you start raising cutting height, you are pretty much committed, since once you try to go back, you will get nothing but brown, and most customers will flip out if they don't know what to expect. It's easier to start at 1.5" and slowly go up to 3" if needed over a season on a vigorously growing lawn than to start at 2.5" or so and wind up with a puffy overly tall looking lawn.

9. It takes experience and experimenting. Some lawns do fine high, others look unkept. Some look fine mowed very low (for a rotary mower), while others just won't handle it unless you go very small on the deck size.

10. Be sure to charge accordingly for the difficulty level. When it's March and you're bidding a dormant lawn, it looks small and easy, like you could make a few passes on a ztr and finish up quickly. But when it's July and you have to walk mow it, you need to charge accordingly. And be sure to factor in edging footage carefully. Some 1/5th acre lots take longer than 3/4 acre lots due to the type mower that can be used and the amount of edging to be done.

I mowed most lawns the last 2 years down to 1.5" in the early spring and then 1.75" from there on. A couple were mowed at 1.5". My primary mowers will not handle anything lower than that.

01-05-2007, 01:39 AM
Everybody has different techniques for mowing.....I think Bermuda needs to stay aroun 1 to 1.5 during the spring and slow growing months, and no higher then 2.5 and with weekly visits during the summer because if any higher, each cut would be cutting off all the green, and leaving brown spots all over making the lawn look bad. Plus if you are cutting higher then 3.0 then, you are going to have a really thin, unhealthy looking lawn in the fall. But to each its own.....Bermuda looks good 4 inches, all thick, but I dont thinks its good for it....