anyone in texas scalping yards

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by southtx, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. southtx

    southtx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 156

    I have had a client of mine ask to scalp the I just wanted to know if anyone else is doing it in texas. If so what height would you mow the lawn at?? Bagging is going to be a must....right??? Any help well do guy and thank you for yalls help.
  2. mak2

    mak2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    My silly ass neighbor did it, besides liking weeds why do people do that?
  3. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,721

    We scalp all our Bermuda yards. Scalp might be an overstatement, as we really just mow them about 1 setting lower. This clears off all the dead winter stubble, and any weed heads. We bag all this, so we don't dump all the weed seeds back onto the lawn.
    Am not sure there is any scientific reason for "scalping", but the customers like it and it makes the lawn look better at the start of the season.
  4. sikagrass

    sikagrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Ive never had a request for it here. Dont think I would do it if they asked. We have st augustine. I do cut at 2.5 in the spring and move it up as it gets hotter. In the fall I cut at 3.5
  5. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,721

    We do not "scalp" St. Augustine, as it would tear up too many runners on top of the ground. We do exactly what you are describing on our St. Aug. lawns.
  6. Blade-o-grass

    Blade-o-grass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 47

    I had a new customer ask me to scalp her lawn two days ago and I told her that It would be double the price of a mow because of the amount of grass to bag but that I didn't normally do it. She asked me if most people scalp their lawn and I told her no though I don't really know what "most" people do only what I do.....the lawn looked great by the way and she was happy with my work
  7. Ngog_Nrythrng

    Ngog_Nrythrng LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    Texas has a history of insane landscape techniques.

    1. Burning. They used to set fire to the dead grass each spring. This practice died out in the 60's due to FIRES!!! :blob2:

    2. Stumping. Take a nice tree, and cut off all its limbs. Then complain about the water sprouts. :rolleyes:

    3. Scalping. Ever seen a St. Augustine lawn three months after it has been cut at 1"? No one else has either. Nothing left. :nono:

    4. Dirting. Cover your lawn with 1" of dirt each spring. :dizzy:

    Cutting St. Augustine or Bermuda short to remove the dead grass is a way to see the green growth faster. Unfortunately in the Texas sun that dead stuff was there for a reason. What might be a haven for fungus in a wet climate is protection in DFW's 110 degree summer and relentless laser beam sunshine. Removing it also allows the weeds to get a head start. Here in Austin you will see people scalp a lawn, then fertilize the weeds. They need to get :hammerhead:
  8. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    Well . . . I guess I can throw my 2 cents in. Scalping St. Augustine makes no sense at all. Cutting the stolons just murders the lawns. However, scalping Tif bermuda is not a bad practice . If you don't a lot of that dormant old grass still shows through the new growth and detracts from the look.

    But this is all a circle jerk. If Tif is cut as short as it should be, 1", then scalping isn't really necessary anyway. But we can't cut it that low because lawns aren't level enough. So we cut it at 2", and scalp it all down in spring. Bagging it is silly, too. But too many people mow it 2.5 or even 3" during the year. . . so then you've gotta bag it or it is just a mess of dead dusty stuff that can sit on over the soil surface for months . . .
  9. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    There is a great deal of empirical based research, not knee jerk, which absolutely decries scalping.
    To boil it all down, a dormant monocot, which grass is among other plants, stores it's carbohydrate reserves in the dormant leaf tissue.
    Removing this leaf tissue stresses the plant to a great degree, thereby weakening the plant once it begins to emerge from dormancy.
    So essentially, by scalping, you are removing a vital source of plant nutrients, harming the plant, and stressing the plant before it emerges completely from dormancy - at a time when the plant requires these reserves the most.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I'm no ag professor, but those Bermuda stems look more than dormant to me. I've never seen them do anything but fall off (eventually) and continue making the lawns look half green, half gray/brown through much of spring and summer. They almost seem to "block" new shoot development.

    I assumed the carb reserves would be in the roots, not the stems. But even so, the lawns that get "scalped" down to about 1" right before greenup seem to do fine and actually seem to green up faster than "neglected" ones. Perhaps because they get more sun and the ground warms up faster not being shaded out by 2.5" or more of stems from last season.

    Yes, it should be mowed at under 1", but in the real world of rotary mowers and uneven sod jobs not many do that here in GA.

    As for the original question. You can save yourself a lot of time and work by slowing taking these lawns down from their late summer height and mulching rather than having to do it all at once and bagging it, which can create massive amounts of clippings to handle. I've done it this way for 4-5 years or so and not had any thatch buildup or other problems.

    Don't take it down too low too soon or you'll just give weeds more room to grow. I went down to 2" at year end and will take it down to 1" over 2 more cuts in early spring. The mulched (to a powder-like state) stems seem to decompose well enough if you do it a step at a time. Usually the lawn needs leaf removal, or other "neatening" even when dormant so it's not an extra visit.

    But the common sense answer is that you can't mow lawns at 1.5" or whatever you want in Spring/summer if there are 2-3" of stems there. You'll obviously be "scalping" them off the first cut anyway.

    My experience is that lawns taken down "to the dirt" do seem to green up a little less quickly and evenly. Perhaps it does damge the turf.

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