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Cutting Bluegrass/Fescue mix @4-3/4

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mid Rivers, Jun 17, 2002.

  1. Mid Rivers

    Mid Rivers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    I have a customer that requests that I cut their yard at 4-3/4". This request is driven because they do not water and they do not want the yard to burn up. I mow there once a week unless it is not needed.

    Now my questions.

    Does cutting this tall hurt the grass?

    What are the possible downfalls of cutting this tall?

    Any other input would be appreciated.

    Thank you:confused:
  2. accuratelawn

    accuratelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 922

    Use high lift blades and cut when the grass is dry and you should be ok, assuming the lawn is thick. If the grass is thin or wet it will lay over.
    At EricELM site you can see several lawns cut at 4 to 5 inches.
  3. LawnSmith

    LawnSmith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 389

    4.5 is a better height but 4.75 is pretty close. if the yard is healthy and thick then it will be perfect. i bet that yard stripes like mad. most of my lawns dont go below 3.75-4", tallest one i do is 5", and they look great.
  4. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 472

    Mid Rivers,

    mowing at 4.75 inches can be advantageous during high heat, but mowing at this length for a prolonged period does have negative impacts on the turf. They are:

    1) The turf density will suffer (you will have a thinner turf);
    2) The grass blades will tend to bend over and droop;
    3) The grass blades will actually become wider and coarse;
    4) The turf can become thatchy.

    Recommended mowing heights for KB is 1.5 - 3.0 inches. TF is 2.0 - 3.5 inches. Pushing the grass to 3.5 - 4.0 is a better choice during the heat of the summer, but 4.75 inches really sounds extreme.

  5. LawnSmith

    LawnSmith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 389

    going by the books it doesnt sound like good practice. but, from years of experience(and a degree in Turf Management doesnt hurt) the grass will turn out quite nicely. going the same direction for 3 weeks straight isnt a good practice on any length of grass but it comes more into play when mowing taller grasses. like everyone else has said, it will start to fold with repeated beatings. the yard will not become thatchy quicker because of the increase in height. lawns become thatchy from mowing too low and having an excess of clippings that cant degrade quick enough. besides, a thatch layer to a certain extent is a good thing.
    that height isnt for every lawn but for those that can take it, they will look top notch from now until december.
  6. Mid Rivers

    Mid Rivers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    Thank you everyone.

    I do mow in different directions every week (3 different diretions), I do use high lift blades.

    The one thing I have noticed is that the grass does lay down at this height and that the mower is unable to pull the grass up to cut it (leaving stringers).

    If it is as everyone has been saying, and it will not hurt the grass, I will continue to cut at this height, if there is a problem cutting at this height I would like to convey this to this customer.

    The input is appreciated. As everyone here knows by mowing it this high it appears to need to be mowed every week so it isn't an issue of missing cuts but more an issue of taking care of this customer.

    Once again, thanks for the replies.
  7. Brickman

    Brickman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,249

    You are right about leaving stringers. I HATE how they look. Around here I get yelled at if I cut 3.5 inches long. And here more than any where it should be cut as long as possible, with as dry as we are. When I try to tell people they will not listen.
  8. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Two negatives from my experience:

    1- The grass will thin out, not be as dense. This is because the taller canopy shades out newer shoots trying to grow from the crown area. Thus as older shoots die off naturally, there are no new ones to replace them, and over time the turf thins.

    2- Mowing that high, you're in trouble if your grasses start stalking - stems grow longer, and when you mow, you remove most of the green leaf. Usual cure for stalking is to mow short one time, then go back to regular height. By mowing near 5", you will have mostly longer stems in general. If you had to mow shorter for any reason, you could then cut off most of the leaf, and just have brownish stems left.

    I have also been advised that taller mowing will increase thatch. Thatch does not come from clippings, as many people seem to believe. The cut off grass blade is mostly water which quickly evaporates, and the remaining soft tissue readily decays. Thatch is from dead roots and stems, which are composed mostly of lignin, and therefore take a long time to decay. Higher cut = taller stems = more thatch. But don't panic over this, just monitor the thatch depth more astutely.

    My maximum height is 3", but I do mostly smaller properties where close-up appearance is the normal requirement. If you're gonna go as high as you say, you cannot expect neatness close up.
  9. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 472

    Grass blades do not, in general, contribute significantly to thatch. But when you mow @ 4.75 inches and follow the 1/3 rule you could wait to mow until grass grows to 7.1 inches and then remove 2.4 inches of grass. The longer the cut blades of grass, the longer it takes for that blade of grass to decompose. Also a longer balde of grass can not filter down to the soil level as easy as a shorter piece of grass. It's soil micorbes that break down the organic matter in a grass blade. If the grass blades do not touch the soil they do not decompose. You see this when you mow very long grass and leave clumps of clippings on top the lawn. Next week those clipping are still on top the grass. A week later you still can find them on the grass.

    So lawns cut at extreme lengths can become thatchy. The operative word here is CAN (not WILL) and this is not book stuff. If you use a mulching mower and don't routinely wait for that lawn to reach 7.1 inches you should be fine. I mow my back yard (mostly Kentucky Bluegrass) at 4 inches in the summer because this area does not recieve irregation or regular rainfall throughout the summer months. The longer length helps protect the lawn from heat and drought stress. But I try to mow well before the lawn reaches 6 inches (though the 1/3 rule says I could wait until it reaches this length). I have not seen more thatch buildup on my back yard versus the front yard, but I believe this is due to cultural practices and not that the books are wrong.

  10. LawnSmith

    LawnSmith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 389

    i dont feel like pissing up a rope here so in the end, the customer is always right in a situation like this. cut the grass at that height until they tell you any different.

    by the way, the proof is in the pudding...........cut at 5"....


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