Lawns turning brown after cutting

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by 130perweek, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. I'm having a problem cutting a few of my weekly lawns. The lawns are growing and they look really good. I am cutting them at appx 3 1/2", and at that height, I'm taking at least 4-5 inches off of them. I do mulch the grass, and a lot does fall into the grass to the ground, but I also do blow a lot of it away.

    The problem I'm having is that the green lawns turn mostly brown after cutting. I heard a rumor, maybe there is some truth to it, that the chlorophyll in the blade of grass go halfway down that blade of grass, so when I cut, I'm taking off more than half of the length of the blade of grass, hence getting rid of all the chlorophyll, and the lawns are brown underneath.

    Is there any truth to this theory? Anyone know how to fix this problem? The client is asking what is going on, but I truly have no idea. Maybe someone here knows something about this problem.


    CJH Landscaping
  2. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,511

    You should not cut off more than 1/3 of the blade. You are taking off about 2/3. Tell them to water less, and you may need to mow more often.

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 5,226

    you may have to double cut it or cut it a few days apart just to get in under controll or ask them not to water as much. but you are deffinitly taking too much off
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Yes, when you cut too much off, the yard will have a brown appearance. Much of it has to do with sun light exposure, and the grass being tall. Your theory is correct.

    Another thing is also how "lush" a lawn is. Around here, with all the rain we've had, I've never seen lawns this thick, this time of year, so it's inevitable to get some browning when mowing.

    I generally have this problem in the spring, or when extremely wet. Once I get the yard under-control and mowed once a week, then the browning condition tends to go away.

    Lately, I noticed it only takes about a day for a yard to green back up, so yes it looks crappy when mowing, but snaps right back.

    Tell them to cut back on the fertilizer too. This will keep it a little shorter week to week.
  5. Stingray63

    Stingray63 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    Are you using lawnmower blades that are sharp everyday? That can also cause grass to turn brown because it tears the grass blade instead of cutting it. Like another poster said, you're also cutting more grass than you should be taking off.

  6. david shumaker

    david shumaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 721

    I've noticed this on some of my lawns. The grass has been growing so fast that I have to cut a liitle more than 1/3 off. Some yards really need cutting more than once a week if tall and thick, but it has been hard to keep up with once a week and nobody wants to pay for every 4 or 5 days which I don't blame them.

    The yards green back up after a few days.
  7. JNyz

    JNyz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,087

    Sounds like you don't have them on a weekly schedule.
  8. New Image Lawn and Scapes

    New Image Lawn and Scapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Do you have a fungus like brown patch? It is all over the place here on the east coast right now. The weather has been perfect for it.
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    As a fellow LI'er, I can tell you two things are happening here. Well, maybe 3 things.

    If you are cutting weekly, even with all this rain, taking off 4 inches is way too much. These lawns have too much nitrogen. I am also cutting at 3 1/2 inches now.... for two reasons. (I usually cut at 3 inches). The red thread is just beyond belief. Saw not one lawn with it last year, and EVERY lawn has at least some this spring. I raised my deck to help hide the fungus damage.

    Even lawns that have gotten the right amount of nitrogen have crazy top growth. Taking off half the top growth exposes stems, which are brown. You also expose the fungus damage.

    The new top growth will hide both the stems and the fungus damage, but it takes a day or three.

    Bottom line, this has been a very dufficult spring with excessive rain, top growth and fungus issues.
  10. This is a weekly lawn cut.

    Blades are always sharp (I know the difference between the grass 'cutting' and 'ripping').

    As far as taking too much off, I understand that....but how am I supposed to get these lawns under control? I can only show up once a week and I'm taking off 5 inches, or more, off. If I only took off 1/3 every week, these lawns would be over a foot tall in only several weeks. Then the lawns would be so tall, it would start flopping over at the top.

    I guess I would really have to ask them if it would be okay to cut more than once per week during this growing season. Then I'd have to see if I could work it in to twice per week.

    So, less fertilizer....less water....cut more than once per week to get under control.

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