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Cutting height questions, shorter makes lawn grow faster?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by clydesdale, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. clydesdale

    clydesdale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 403

    In the spring and fall when the lawns are growing like mad, I have a couple of people that want the lawn cut short. But the lawn seems to grow even faster and definitely looks better when i raise the blades. Is it true that cutting the lawn shorter will make it even grow faster? Do lawns slow down in growth as they get longer? Thanks
  2. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    Around me, I like to cut them long because it helps keep the weeds out because it shades the ground underneith helping to prevent weed growth. Anyway, I think the lawn does grow back faster when cut short. I dunno exactly why, I am no expert i just observe that happening and cut the lawns long. All my customers understand.
  3. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    I determine mow height, when to raise, when to lower and when to stay the same, I also determine when it will be mowed, my clients accept services from me to manage their lawn care. That means I manage it not them.
    the answer to your post is simple, Short breeds weeds, longer looks lush.
    OOPS, this is response to original poster, no offense intended. sorry mcw.
  4. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    What are you appologizing for? I am young, any advice is great, good or bad. I really don't know why you are appologizing for.
  5. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    sorry because normally when you use a quote for a response its addressed to the person that made the quote, my post shouldn't have even been with a quote it was a general comment.
  6. Mower For Less

    Mower For Less LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    It may grow faster for the first couple weeks, becuase the grass is trying to regulate itself. After a few weeks, it should accept defeat and grow more normally. I have a customer that loves his lawn cut short. The first couple weeks there were about 2 extra cans of clippings from his yard (4 cans total), then, after a couple weeks, it was down to 2 cans total (same as the neighbors lawn @ taller height).

    However, his lawn has more weeds, needs more water, and is overall in poorer health as a result of the shorter cut height. And kicks up alot more dust in my face while mowing. Worth more $$$ to cut short. Stupid penalty.

  7. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    cutting grass shorter than YOUR Ag department suggests for YOUR type of grass is a bad idea.

    Here St Augustine should be cut at 3.5 - 4.5 inches. Cutting below 3.5 inces can be done, BUT it must be slowly lowered or the stolon will be damaged increasing likelihood of disease and bug damage. You also remove the plant's ability to photosynthesize. This creates an energy shortage which further reduces the plant's ability to fight off problems.

    You also reduce the shading effect of the grass on the soil which increases the evaporation rate of the soil and creates dryer conditions. Further challenging the grass.

    AS far as the looking like it grows faster thing. That is an illusion created by percent increase. If you cut the grass at 2 inches and it grows an inch. You have increased the lenght by 50% That looks like alot. If you cut the grass at 4 inches and it grows an inch that is 25% doesn't seem like as much.

    The grass also looks shabbier based on the percent of growth.

    Cutting lower will make for a more tailored looking lawn. ONCE. Then the downhill slide of thinning grass and creep in of weeds begins.

    Look at golf courses they cut super low. They also water and fertilize nearly daily and have a full time CREW whose only job is to cut and maintain the grass. Not something you can do once a week.
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    The answer is yes. The grass will produce more rapid top growth when cut shorter... so long as it is not scalped to the point of severe shock.
    Here's why...

    When the plants are cut back shorter than they want to be, all the plant's processes become totally focused on regenerating top growth. It will use all it's energy and nutrients producing this surge growth until it regenerates the proper amount of leaf surface.... and then it will settle back into it's normal growth patterns. The result is more inches of top growth to remove each week.

    The above is also directly related to the reason the turf health declines due to cutting too short. Basically when the plant spends that much time fully focused on regenerating top growth, the rest of the plant suffers from neglect. Namely the root system. So health declines along with the loss of all the benefits of a lush canopy of leaf.

    Frankly, cutting too short is the #1 worst and most frequintly commited mistake.
  9. dcplace2004

    dcplace2004 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 423

    the root system haults its growth until the blades of grass come back...when you cut it the length it is supposed to be cut, the root system thrives and develops a healthy root system...scalp the grass, and the lawn suffers...
  10. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    Man I've tried and tried to educate my customers about the proper mowing height. I usually end up winning the argument when they see the improvement of their lawns over time. I use simple euphemisms(sp?) like; when it's cut short the grass thinks you're trying to kill it so it grows faster. Whether it grows faster when cut short or not, I don't hit much with my blades when they're set above 3 inches!

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