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

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

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I would check the root depth now and compare with root depth observations over the course of months and years...
    Root growth is dependent on "What"??? Does crowding at the surface, diminish root growth or expand it??? For better sense of a hypothesis, the right question is all important??? :)
  2. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    That's exactly where I am and what I think. Height changes are easy and fast on my Toro Z too. Gets into more time, but not much, if the deck caster wheels need to be moved. I had a table of Toro setting # to actual mowing height in inches for my last Z. I need to do that again for my new one.

    As an aside, does anyone here feel the adjustable baffle is useful? I never change mine, never have felt I needed to, and it makes thoroughly cleaning the deck extremely difficult.

    I struggle with one baseball field and one football field (different places) that own Toro Z's and mow at 2.25 or 2. I have left notes, talked, demonstrated and they humor me for a day, then go back to where they were. I finally fixed it for good on the baseball field by putting a bolt with 2 nylon lined nuts through the holes at the setting I want them to use. Their tool box consists of one Crescent wrench, a hammer, a bent screwdriver, 2 pipe cleaners and a bran muffin -- so I finally got my way there a couple years ago :laugh:

    Please keep us posted on how your side by side heights perform, look, and root.
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Over fert will most likely cause snow mold then cutting a cool season lawn at 3.5".

    A thick lawn cut at 3.5 will still look thick, full, and even.

    Cutting a thin lawn low will not make it look thicker. It will just be a thin lawn cut short.

    Problem is people being lazy figured that if they cut their lawn real short they will not have to touch their mower till April. The tradition of fall scalping was born.

    I always cut the same height every time, 3.5".

    By then end of October lawn growth has slowed down tremendously. After the last fall clean up is done in the 1st week of December I will mow my lawn at 3.5". Not much comes off though leveling of the lawn makes the lawn look nice and thick and because grass growth has stopped the lawn looks great for the Christmas holidays.
  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378


    Yup I agree. In my area both homeowners and contractors are having a contest to see how short they can cut the grass. Again it is what the Client wants and not what is best for the grass. :hammerhead:

    Here are more test area pics from my own test patch. Far right path is cut at 2.75" and the center hideous low cut in the center of the 3.25" is taken down to 2.25"...:cry: I really cringed mowing it that low. When the grass has been cut at 4.25" - 4.5" all along ....2.25" is a scalp fest.


  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It does look hideous but only becuz it was cut down to the sheath,,, not becuz it was cut at 2.25 per se...
    We have irrigated lawns that are constantly cut that low, so the sheath is much shorter and the turf does very well and people can play croquet and such on their lawns... :)
  6. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Cutting a lawn short all the time is what makes the sheath short. A lawn that is mowed at 3.5" will not look good when it is cut short. Just because it has been trained to be cut high.

    So it will look hideous because it was cut at 2.25".
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Exactly... :)
  8. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Yes...very true. Should be interesting to see how these test areas perform in relation to the adjacent HIGH mowed turf in the 2014 season. :)
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. Mscotrid

    Mscotrid LawnSite Bronze Member
    from USA
    Messages: 1,456

    Leave the turf longer going into winter, helps protect shoots and crowns. First cut of the year drop your mower a notch or two to remove top growth. This will increase initial color by a few weeks. Raise your mower to predetermined height and leave it for the year. Turf fairs better at one height throughout the season.

    Turf iNfo for the North Central US | University of Nebraska – Lincoln
    Extension is a Division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Homelawns: What’s the best mowing height? August 19, 2013
    Mowing at 3.0 inches or higher is the best way to maintain a healthy lawn. It maximizes the photosynthetic leaf area and depth of rooting, shades the soil, and creates turf highly competitive against weeds, diseases, and insects. Settings of 3.0 or 3.5 inches is usually the highest setting on most homeowner type mowers. You can check the mowing height by stopping the mower on a sidewalk or drive and measuring from the concrete to the actual blade tip (not the housing). Some professional mowing equipment can be set even higher than 3.0 - 3.5 inches, enhancing the agronomic advantages even more.
    As we approach extended hot weather, some may consider raising the mowing height with the hope of improving rooting and thus improving heat and drought tolerance. Unlike in some earlier recommendations, mow at the same height all year-long. Raising mowing heights after June 1 is too late because it is after the period of greatest root growth for cool-season grasses. Raising the mowing height at this time does not encourage deeper rooting and thus the plant has to support more leaf material with a proportionally smaller root system. This compromises the plant and will actually require more watering compared to leaving the mowing height at the spring setting. The bottom line is set the mower at 3.0 to 3.5 inches or higher in the spring, and leave it there all year.
    Zac Reicher, Professor of Turfgrass Science,
  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378


    PDF for that is here


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