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View Full Version : Cutting height for striping (best cut height for fescue/bluegrass)


tacoma200
06-11-2009, 05:43 PM
Just a question for those who stripe Northern grass such as fescue. What height gives the best stripe for you? What type of grass stripes best? I keep reading that fescue and bluegrass should be cut shorter than I usually do. We don't have a very high quality of turf here so some of you guys further North in the cool grass zone should have more experience. I have always thought the Midwest and North East had some of the best stripe pictures.

bighaydenslawn
06-11-2009, 05:48 PM
I am interested to hear the answers as well.....


BTW those are some great cut pics you have been posting with your Scag TT!

mdlwn1
06-11-2009, 05:52 PM
Blue stripes the best. Fescue..sometimes will stand up by the end of the day. As for the height...doesnt matter. What matters is how often you cut. The more often you cut, the lower you can keep it. If your weekly the reality is probably in the 3.5 - 4.5 inch range (mid summer). The height of the blade within the mowing deck is a huge factor in how much layover you can get. Grass that lays over a bit is actually cut higher resulting in greener grass.

pplm
06-11-2009, 05:56 PM
I cut my fescue at 3.5 to 4.0 inches. When I start I cut the same way for about 3 weeks then I alternate directions. I have learned the higher you cut it the more it lays down giving you a more defined stripe!

mdlwn1
06-11-2009, 06:02 PM
Generally Tall Fescue should be cut a lil bit higher. Very dependent on variety though. Fine Fescue wont be too happy under 2.5 cutting weekly in mid summer. I have just reconfigured my mowers today. I removed one blade washer (1/4)so i can get a bit more layover. To compensate, I lowered the front wheels by 1/4. The overall effect has been a 1/4 inch RAISE in cutting height. To add to the last post...shade is a bit different...you can go lower. Bottom line is most guys cut too low..it is however situational to every property. As long as its not too shaggy..you sound like you already kinda know this stuff.

SfTD_service_CENTER
06-11-2009, 06:02 PM
anything 3 inch and up will make a good stripe, i always seem to get a good strip with the dixon and exmark at those heights.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
06-11-2009, 07:48 PM
I personally don't have many pure fescue or pure KB lawns that I mow. I do have one primarily fescue lawn that stripes up pretty good. I think the mixed lawns stripe up almost as nice, though. Here is a pic of a lawn I striped up with my Quick the other day. Cut at 3", and I think that stripes best. Gonna put it on my future website:)

supercuts
06-11-2009, 08:09 PM
I cut my fescue at 3.5 to 4.0 inches. When I start I cut the same way for about 3 weeks then I alternate directions. I have learned the higher you cut it the more it lays down giving you a more defined stripe!

i do the same thing. my minimum is really 3.5" but do some at 4.5 and in crazy growing conditions(pure all day sun, unlimited sprinkling due to broken sensors that never shut them off when raining, and over fertilized) i leave the deck all the way up

Blood Bought
06-11-2009, 08:11 PM
I'm cutting all fescue with a ExMark Lazer Z 60". Last year I was cutting at 4 and it strips well. This year on 2 main lawns I've been cutting at 4.5" and the strips are more defined and show longer. We cut four patterns, with and against the buildings and two diag. You can still see the pattern from 4 weeks previous.

supercuts
06-11-2009, 08:17 PM
I Cut at 3", and I think that stripes best. Gonna put it on my future website:)

the taller you cut the healthier the grass and stays growing longer in droughts. 3" is almost my minimum. dont forget that all mowers are not equal at 3", out of our 4 ZTRS 3" is different on all mowers including same brands

tacoma200
06-11-2009, 08:23 PM
I was reading on recommended cutting heights for fescue and I found that university's and research centers were recommending 3" and lower for tall or turf fescues. It left me kind of scratching my head because I thought everyone was cutting it 3.25 to 4.5", especially when striping. It would be hard to lay a stripe that low.

Blood Bought
06-13-2009, 11:29 PM
I was reading on recommended cutting heights for fescue and I found that university's and research centers were recommending 3" and lower for tall or turf fescues. It left me kind of scratching my head because I thought everyone was cutting it 3.25 to 4.5", especially when striping. It would be hard to lay a stripe that low.

The last info I read from NC State Univ. recommended a cutting height of 3"-4" for turf type tall fescue. The higher cutt keeps the soil temp. lower, reduces moisture loss from evaporation, and promotes deeper root growth.

W.L.M.
06-13-2009, 11:49 PM
When I was running striping kits on my mowers they striped nicely at any height (primarily 2.5 before it started raining here) but I have been getting behind so I took my stripers off and have been cutting at 3.5 as a result of the rain and crazy growth and I gotta say that it stripes as good at 3.5 with no striping kit as it does at 2.5 with one so I would agree with the taller the better principal. However, I never cut above 3.5 on any of my accounts because I start losing cut quality.

Blood Bought
06-13-2009, 11:54 PM
However, I never cut above 3.5 on any of my accounts because I start losing cut quality.

Try an ExMark with UltraCut deck! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

tacoma200
06-13-2009, 11:56 PM
When I was running striping kits on my mowers they striped nicely at any height (primarily 2.5 before it started raining here) but I have been getting behind so I took my stripers off and have been cutting at 3.5 as a result of the rain and crazy growth and I gotta say that it stripes as good at 3.5 with no striping kit as it does at 2.5 with one so I would agree with the taller the better principal. However, I never cut above 3.5 on any of my accounts because I start losing cut quality.

Where are you? 2.5 seems lower than average for striping. They cut low here to hide the fact that there are more weeds than turf grass on some properties.

OrangeToys
06-13-2009, 11:57 PM
taller grass will do better than the shorter, because there is more of a blade to lay down.

sslopok
06-14-2009, 12:10 AM
I have been happy with the stripes laid on kb from 3.25-4 inches.
sslopok

DA Quality Lawn & YS
06-14-2009, 01:31 AM
No real way I could get by cutting at 4" around here. People would be calling me, regardless of the nice striping. It would be something like "We like the job you have been doing, but can you cut the grass any shorter, please?" That is my rationale for 3", just tolerable for most of my customers but not too short for health, either.

dishboy
06-14-2009, 02:33 AM
Most University's I have seen recommend 2.5 to 3" for Bluegrass. We are all irrigated here, High mountain desert, I cut at 2.75" this time a year. Raise that mower and turf density declines and QOC goes away also. A properly fertilized, watered and otherwise well managed lawn will be dense enough as to shade the ground as that lawn cut at 3.5 that lays down and needs a stripe job to cover up the crappy QOC.

Allens LawnCare
06-14-2009, 04:08 AM
I cut between 3-3.5, also have some customers that want it at 2.5, stripes on the 3-3.5 end look great, Thin and full......to me the 2.5 looks like the grass will be stressing soon!

Allens LawnCare
06-14-2009, 04:13 AM
2.5 with a camera phone so the pics may $uck

Allens LawnCare
06-14-2009, 04:18 AM
Another camera phone shot....the quality is bad!

ALC-GregH
06-14-2009, 09:47 AM
I normally cut anywhere between 2.5-3.5 on all my customers. A few wanted me to all but scalp their lawns. I told them I can't cut it that low and went on to explain to them why. Now their very happy with the lawn being cut at 3+. I cut my own lawn with my Quick dually yesterday @ 3in and it stripes pretty good.

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e160/americanlawncare/DSC01699.jpg

chefdrp
06-14-2009, 10:25 AM
i cut all mine at 3-3.5. Most are at 3. I get a wonderful stripe. I found when i first started cutting years back, that when i cut the grass high and bent the tall grass over,that soon i would have DEAD grass under the layed over blades of grass. Couldnt get light and such.

ALC-GregH
06-14-2009, 10:32 AM
I ride by this one property that the owner cuts. He bought a Dixie Chopper to mow like 2 acres with. He somehow must have been told that the grass needs to be cut at 5 inches. LOL Every time I ride by, it looks like crap. All you really see is the tire tracks that are smashed into the grass. I mow 2 different farms a mile down from this place. One day I'm going to stop in and talk with him. I've never seen it cut shorter then what he's cutting at. Maybe I can convince him to drop the deck more and it will look even better. My line would be, knowing he just cut it, tell him that you need to cut your lawn, it's out of control. Wait for him to say he just did then tell him it's WAY to long still. If I piss him off, oh well. :)

W.L.M.
06-14-2009, 12:31 PM
Where are you? 2.5 seems lower than average for striping. They cut low here to hide the fact that there are more weeds than turf grass on some properties.

northwest PA, I too cut places low alot of the time because the grass is either patchy or full of weeds and it doesn't leave a nice cut if you don't bump it down to at least 3 inches. 2.5 would not be my choice for striping on nice turf.

tacoma200
06-14-2009, 02:53 PM
Most lawns here do not stripe well with out a striper because of the poor turf. We are a bit far South and too far out in the country where pasture weeds take over the best maintained lawns very quickly. So if I want a stripe it takes a roller or a rubber strip and then it stands back in a few days depending on the turf. Most of the guys that can stripe easily are further North in the transition zone or in the Northern grass area. We have a few fescue lawns that stripe easily, but they require extensive up keep and maintenance. You can actually watch the stripe quality go down from the first year of seeding, getting progressively worse each year. When you are surrounded by thousands of acres of pasture it's hard to stay ahead of the weeds.

dishboy
06-14-2009, 04:54 PM
Here is Tall Fescue at 2". I think stripes are silly! This is with a Walker MB and a New style 42" mulch deck.

LuvMyFerris
06-14-2009, 08:17 PM
Another camera phone shot....the quality is bad!

Looks like the lawn there is dying from lack of water?

MJB
06-14-2009, 08:32 PM
Most of our lawns are a mix of fescue and KBG, and rye. We mow with stripe rollers on all our mowers and cut from 2.25 to 4" and the stripe looks great on all of them. Ours are irrigated and some customers like it short and some long.
We use the stripe rollers because we mow in a different direction and track so as not to make ruts. We have soft turf getting 5 days a week of irrigation in most cases. I see some guys making stripes by staying in the same groove for weeks in a row then alternating, but they get ruts the lawn doesn't look good after a while.. I do curves in different directions each week alternating back to straight patterns, and angles etc.. Some times people come out and say it makes them dizzy, but they like it, and they like that I don't make ruts in their yard.

dishboy
06-14-2009, 08:48 PM
Most of our lawns are a mix of fescue and KBG, and rye. We mow with stripe rollers on all our mowers and cut from 2.25 to 4" and the stripe looks great on all of them. Ours are irrigated and some customers like it short and some long.
We use the stripe rollers because we mow in a different direction and track so as not to make ruts. We have soft turf getting 5 days a week of irrigation in most cases. I see some guys making stripes by staying in the same groove for weeks in a row then alternating, but they get ruts the lawn doesn't look good after a while.. I do curves in different directions each week alternating back to straight patterns, and angles etc.. Some times people come out and say it makes them dizzy, but they like it, and they like that I don't make ruts in their yard.

I can't imagine the need to water 5 days a week unless you are on sand. Better to encourage deep watering one time a week spring and fall and twice if necessary when temps are above 80 degrees.

tacoma200
06-14-2009, 11:13 PM
Most of our lawns are a mix of fescue and KBG, and rye. We mow with stripe rollers on all our mowers and cut from 2.25 to 4" and the stripe looks great on all of them. Ours are irrigated and some customers like it short and some long.
We use the stripe rollers because we mow in a different direction and track so as not to make ruts. We have soft turf getting 5 days a week of irrigation in most cases. I see some guys making stripes by staying in the same groove for weeks in a row then alternating, but they get ruts the lawn doesn't look good after a while.. I do curves in different directions each week alternating back to straight patterns, and angles etc.. Some times people come out and say it makes them dizzy, but they like it, and they like that I don't make ruts in their yard.

What city are you close to in Washington? I would like to look it up on the map. Most of us think of the rainy coast when we think of Washington and Oregon but if I remember you are far enough inland to be more arid/desert like. So much of the West is under water restrictions but I see your near a large lake so maybe that doesn't affect you. We get about 60" of rain per year so nobody irrigates. The soil has a lot of clay in this part of the state so it doesn't rut very easily.

Your work always looks great.

JDiepstra
06-14-2009, 11:16 PM
I cut everything at 3" and it all stripes well.

MJB
06-15-2009, 01:53 AM
I can't imagine the need to water 5 days a week unless you are on sand. Better to encourage deep watering one time a week spring and fall and twice if necessary when temps are above 80 degrees.

We are in the desert half is in sand the other half is rocky soil. Normally we would never see a rain drop for months at a time during the heat of summer. But slowly that is changing getting a few more showers each yr. During the heat from now until the end of sept, if we don't water 5 days a week about an hour per station per day the lawns will getdry spots and then I have to turn up the sprinklers they don't like dry spots.

After 20 yrs of trying everything deep watering 3 times per week didn't work. Plus competition for water is high, the trees spread feeder roots accross the lawn sucking up the water before the lawn can benefit from it.

Our normal temps used to be 90 to 110 but now we rarely see it go much above a 100. But it is a hot dry heat and the lawns will dry up quickly.
Plus people up here are spoiled, I don't know what will happen when there is a water shortage, that day is coming for sure.

integrityman
06-15-2009, 01:59 AM
I cut my fescue at 3.5 to 4.0 inches. When I start I cut the same way for about 3 weeks then I alternate directions. I have learned the higher you cut it the more it lays down giving you a more defined stripe!

Yup - concurr- 3.5- 3.75" range for me.

MJB
06-15-2009, 02:09 AM
What city are you close to in Washington? I would like to look it up on the map. Most of us think of the rainy coast when we think of Washington and Oregon but if I remember you are far enough inland to be more arid/desert like. So much of the West is under water restrictions but I see your near a large lake so maybe that doesn't affect you. We get about 60" of rain per year so nobody irrigates. The soil has a lot of clay in this part of the state so it doesn't rut very easily.

Your work always looks great.

Tacoma I'm 100 miles west of Spokane Wa on Interstate 90. This is where everyone from Seattle comes to get out of the rain and absorb some sunshine. It used to be known for 300 days of sunshine per yr, but the climate is changing in 18 yrs it's cooling down and we are seeing more rain showers. But nothing like the rest of the country. A storm here is a hard drizzle compared to most places. No water restrictions yet, many people do pull water from the lake too. We have a lot of lakes that supply our irrigation water, as farming potatoes, alfalfa, corn, is big here. Also have a lot of orchards in this part of the country.

This picture is on pure sand gets watered 6 days a week. The guys who install sprinklers take to many shortcuts and always leave areas that are underwaterded, requiring more time.

tacoma200
06-15-2009, 02:16 AM
Tacoma I'm 100 miles west of Spokane Wa on Interstate 90. This is where everyone from Seattle comes to get out of the rain and absorb some sunshine. It used to be known for 300 days of sunshine per yr, but the climate is changing in 18 yrs it's cooling down and we are seeing more rain showers. But nothing like the rest of the country. A storm here is a hard drizzle compared to most places. No water restrictions yet, many people do pull water from the lake too. We have a lot of lakes that supply our irrigation water, as farming potatoes, alfalfa, corn, is big here. Also have a lot of orchards in this part of the country.

This picture is on pure sand gets watered 6 days a week. The guys who install sprinklers take to many shortcuts and always leave areas that are underwaterded, requiring more time.

Well at least you have grass (pure turf). Just spit on the ground here and a weed seed will sprout. We have the kind of rain that washes out roads and causes landslides, much like the rest of the South East. Nice pics, thanks!

Oh yeah! It hurts me watching that Hustler climb that hill, I can hear the rpm's dropping from here. Maybe that 30 does better but the 27 I had, you would need you to seriously back off the levers. :)

MJB
06-15-2009, 09:51 AM
Well at least you have grass (pure turf). Just spit on the ground here and a weed seed will sprout. We have the kind of rain that washes out roads and causes landslides, much like the rest of the South East. Nice pics, thanks!

Oh yeah! It hurts me watching that Hustler climb that hill, I can hear the rpm's dropping from here. Maybe that 30 does better but the 27 I had, you would need you to seriously back off the levers. :)

You got that right and that is not even that bad of a hill compared to yours.
If I get into a hurry going uphill the engine will sputter and I'll stop and let it pick up rpm's, well you know the drill. One thing that I like about the Hustler better than any other mower is the emergency brakes, just open the sticks up and bam, excellent safety feature.

All of our lawns up here are sprayed for broadleaf at least once per yr thus controlling the clover and dandelions. That lawn costs about $400 per time to spray. But people are starting to cut back due to the economy so who knows how the lawns will be next yr.

GracesLandscaping
06-15-2009, 01:20 PM
for me the higher you mow, the better the stripes... i usually mow my nice lawns at 4.5 on the exmark

barlowlawncare
06-15-2009, 03:56 PM
I agree every mower cuts different even same brand on our new lazer we usually cut at 3.5 and the older lazer we keep at 4.0, on lawns that ppl really take care of with fert, and sprinklers etc we cut at 4 and 4.5 and they stripe nice and stay that way until we show up next week but on most ppls lawns that do not take complete care of that would be too long and wouldnt look good at all. Bottom line the nicer the grass the nicer the cut and it really doesnt matter what you cut it with it will look good

JKOOPERS
06-15-2009, 07:44 PM
we cut at 3.5 or higher and get great stripes

Weedas_Lawn_Care
06-17-2009, 03:45 PM
i try to keep it at 3.5 inches sometimes 3 but never lower than 3 unless one yard i have is all bermuda grass and its cut at 2.5 and looks like a golf course durring the right time of year

tacoma200
06-17-2009, 04:27 PM
i try to keep it at 3.5 inches sometimes 3 but never lower than 3 unless one yard i have is all bermuda grass and its cut at 2.5 and looks like a golf course durring the right time of year

Hey, love the company name Weedas_Lawn_Care. :) The grass in the Louisville area is better quality than out here in the country. Boy they sure do have some small lots in some parts of town. I couldn't get my ZTR;s turned around or through all the gates. I watched some of the lawn care trucks up there. It's a whole different kind of cutting. You never see a walk behind here or a rake mounted to a trailer for that matter.

chefdrp
06-17-2009, 09:19 PM
just wondering. Do ball parks have bermuda or what kind of grass do they have? They have great stripes and they dont cut at 3.5 or 4. why do we have to. I sut mine at 3 and get a great stripe. But i use a roller.

chefdrp
06-18-2009, 01:32 PM
bump. does anyone have an answer

GreenAcresLandscaping
06-18-2009, 03:31 PM
It depends on what area but it helps that they cut everyday! They use golf course mowers though.

chefdrp
06-18-2009, 06:08 PM
golf course mowers have rollers right? At least the ones i have seen. and they cut the fields very low correct.

Blood Bought
06-18-2009, 06:53 PM
They use reel mowers and they sometimes enhance the stripes with dye.