Cool Season Grass and Fall scalp mowing.....?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Exact Rototilling, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Purdue says keep cool season turf at the same height throughout the season.

    Older clients of mine tend to insist on dropping mowing heights as soon as warm weather passes.....?

    Younger clients I am able to educate that the snow mold issue is at least 2 months away....why the rush to drop mowing heights just yet...the grass still needs some length for photosynthesis? I also tell them that 65%-75% of then season s Nitrogen needs to go down NOW...!

    I also tell them resist the urge to blow out sprinklers this early since it is not uncommon to have dry warm weather here in late September to early October....and this is the best time to aerate even though most loose interest this time of year.

    So is Purdue out to lunch...? Am I really a long grass die hard who is putting his own KBG at Peril by keeping my lowest mowing height at 3.5" for the winter....?

    Is there any documented evidence that scalp mowing does in fact weaken the turf before dormancy...?
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  2. FdLLawnMan

    FdLLawnMan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,253

    Common sense tell you to keep it longer. If you were to cut it a little shorter you could do it on the last couple of cuts.
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  3. Mike A

    Mike A LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    Go with Purdue, I always do. They are the experts and have done the research...
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  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    "Scalp" is a poor choice of words and a lousy measurement... Scalp indicates looking at mostly stubble of sheaths over the ground, instead of soft luxuriant grass leaves...

    Cool season grasses can be cut @ 2.0 - 2.5 inches and look really nice and grow just fine... clients love that height becuz it looks so much more 'manicured' at that height...

    When the heat comes on in Summer heights go up to 3.0 - 3.5 inches... Summer heat is over and I've gone back down to 2.0 inches for the lawns...

    What was Purdue's 'reasoning', and what is the context of what the height should always be???
    A lot of times people will take statements out of context and misunderstand what the intent of the information was for... I don't accept that a University of any caliber is qualified that lay out the only cutting height for every cool-season lawn in the world... that takes "One Size Fits All" idea, to a whole new level... :)
  5. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    I do a 2 inch cut last cut of the season for everyone. Reg height until then.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    My regular height goes long in the heat then back in the cool,,, rather than the heat being regular height...
  7. zo6

    zo6 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 419

    Wow, you guys cut really short, i cut my lowest at 4 1/4 during summer months and about mid oct ill drop down to 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 before im done for the season
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It looks better at 2-2.5 inches... IMO(and the clients')... :)
  9. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    My own lawn and a few other accounts get cut at 4.5". At these heights the turf really took off and honestly was tough to keep under control. KBG loves it at these heights and just goes steroid on the extra photosynthesis.

    With a KBG dominant stand of turf I have found 3.25" is lowest normal height I can go and still have good color.

    Mowing down around 2.75" still looks okay but clearly requires more nitrogen for good color.

    Upon request [cringe] there are a few lawn I do for the mow it lower program. These few remaining accounts I hope to replace next season.

    For 2014 I have come up with a rewards program [APS accounts] for those who can maintain 2.75" and extra rewards for 3.25". :)

    Most every published factoid sheet for cool season turf has mowing heights I find IMO just too short for optimal health and vigor.
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  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Let's just say a Toro SR4 21" mower does leave a iffy looking cut much above 2.5"... ish.

    This is precisely why I retired the SR4 from service.

    Ybravo 25 can leave a more manicured cut with a non OEM blade that gets it into Toro TimeMaster 30 cut quality range.

    My BOP mowers especially the 44 deck offer a manicured cut at higher mowing heights.

    The lack of cut quality at the upper settings with homeowner mowers is precisely why most cool season lawns get cut lower and lawn health suffers.
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