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Drought Conditions and Mowing Height?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    In my area, the predominant cool season grass in lawns is usually fescue of some sort. Along with a good assortment of weeds, often including crabgrass, many have bermuda in the mix, and a few of my accounts are predominantly bermuda, or at least have areas that are predominantly bermuda.

    I start the mowing season cutting at least 3 inches on all properties, and on some of the rougher ones, as high as 3 1/2. As the weather warms, and it begins to dry out, I raise to at least 3 3/4 and on most properties, go a full 4 inches.

    Now, with the drought worsening, and being more prolonged, I find that trying to cut on 4 inches leaves a very shabby appearance. Mostly, I'm cutting weeds, and in some cases, bermuda, but only the occasional green stem of fescue. I tried dropping back down to 3 1/2 inches, and found the finished look to be much better. My thinking is the fescue is basically dormant anyway, so cutting it a bit shorter isn't going to hurt, and bermuda could probably be cut even shorter without hurting it. Is my thinking flawed?
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    1) if it were dormant you wouldn't be cutting it
    2) higher cut = better drought tolerance .... but you already knew that.
  3. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    I wouldnt cut it short but thats your call
    We been running decks all way up at 5-6'' marks and only been cutting weeds even the weeds isnt growing to well
    But there guys I know has not stop mowing each week they drop in down 1/2 '' each week
    They are money hungry
  4. Jimslawncareservice

    Jimslawncareservice LawnSite Platinum Member
    from mn
    Messages: 4,143

    well that's only going to last so long and they can't go any lower.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,280

    My 2 cents: even if lawns are in full drought you still have to mow them every 2-3 weeks to knock 'the rough' off. Otherwise they really look like junk. And there will be trimming to do. I stay mowing at 3" regardless. No way I could cut anyone's lawn 4" tall, to me that looks like unkept hairdo. If your gonna mow, you have to balance proper cut height with aesthetics and to me 3" is it.
  6. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    I never cut "shorter"
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  7. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    Well was in town today and set watch a crew at this one store there wasnt a thing to cut and they mowed it last week Starting see more bare dirt they mow same path all year

    THIESSENS TLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 892

    I cut 3.5" all year round except for the last cut of the year which I'll drop it down to 3", I skipped a few last week. And this week I'm skipping all of them & probly next week too. Then I'll go out the following week and clean em all up, and then probly skip again. We are supposed to get some rain this week, but even that won't do much. Never seen lawns so brown before! Lol
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Well, yes and no. I suppose there has to be some growth for the tops to become uneven, that is just common sense, but over most of the lawns, the visible portion of the fescue blades are brown. I agree that a higher cutting height probably helps "shade" the ground to some extent, but 3 1/2 is still not exactly short, and I wouldn't even consider going any lower.

    In the case of lawns being mixed with bermuda, the bermuda is growing more than the other grasses at this point, and just doesn't look right mowed a full 4 inches.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    1) If it dormant it is not growing
    2) Higher cut = better drought tolerance ..... didn't say anything about better water conservation

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