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Mowing Bermuda high late in the season

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by New2TheGreenIndustry, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. New2TheGreenIndustry

    New2TheGreenIndustry LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 925

    A chemical guy told my customer that I was cutting the lawn a little too close this late in the season. I was a little confused since the turf was about 2" high. What is the reason behind this and the right course of action?
  2. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    2" is high to me :laugh: The thought process is that as the Bermuda goes dormant for the season it is good to have as many stored starches as possible to break dormancy in the spring. By cutting higher you have more leaf and stem surface so more photosynthesis occurs and more stored starches as a results :clapping:.

    Reason 2 is frost settles like a blanket from above so the taller the turf the top frosts and provides a little protection for the lower leafs and stems but IMHO this is a minuscule benefit if at all.
  3. New2TheGreenIndustry

    New2TheGreenIndustry LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 925

    So do they need the stored starches until the grass starts to grow in the spring? I heard from another person to start cutting off the height after it goes into dormancy. So little by little you cut it lower, as opposed to scalping it in one cut in the spring.
  4. Turf Dawg

    Turf Dawg LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,719

    I will agree that 2" is plenty high. On a lot off the Bermuda types 2" is too tall to begin with. Most of us [myself included] do not cut Bermuda the right way to begin with. To really do most Bermuda types justice they need water, 7/9 #'s per 1K of nitrogen per season and mowed on a 3 day schedule with a reel mower between .5" and 1". I know the scalping part is debated but I wait till the last freeze chance has pasted in the spring and take them down short as I can with a rotory mower.
  5. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    depends on the season....were cutting VERY high....Were in Texas and NO rain
  6. lawnprosteveo

    lawnprosteveo LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,930

    Ive been cutting thick wet bermuda all frickin day and all this past week. These lawns are going on their 7th day and they are growning like they are on CRACK!

    If you cut these at 2"...theyd look like crap! That may work in other areas...but here it wont unless you cut it every day or every other day.

    My little old ladies cant afford that....
  7. johnnybravo8802

    johnnybravo8802 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Ga.
    Messages: 2,314

    According to my chemical guy and Lesco, bermuda should still be at around 3" this time of year. I start out with 2" in the dead of winter and work it up to 3" by June/July. It needs to be taller to shade the roots during the drought and to smother out the weeds-weeds only grow when sunlight gets to them. My chemical guy recommended that I keep it tall going into the off season to insulate the roots during dormancy and then scalp it in early spring. That's how we do it in Ga., anyway.
  8. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    That goes against what the University of Georgia, Walter Reeves, and your county extension agent would say. You get different opinions from different sources. Everyone has an opinion on how to treat Bermuda.

    My lawns looked great this year (with adequate rainfall and irrigation allowed finally) at 1.25" to 1.5" most of the season. I raised them gradually to 2" and they look worse at 2" in many cases since it's all stem under the green leaves at the very top. Any place the mower blade dips 1/4" you get brown marks. Properly graded flat lawns still look fine at 2" but most aren't that flat. You can keep taking it up to 3" to avoid that but the lawns can look puffy sometimes and once you go high, you cannot go back low (all stems showing after you cut off the green at top and you get fired for that).

    And you won't get many weeds in a closely mowed bermuda lawn. It's dense as hell. Come winter you would get more weed protection with it taller, but in growing season it's not a concern. But that's beside the point. A weed free lawn grown at a bizarre height wouldn't appeal to many. Weeds just aren't a huge problem in Bermuda here anyway.

    I'm not sure why all this talk of "insulating roots" here in GA. First of all, the temps are rarely so cold here it would damage hybrid Bermuda. Second, the ground is WARMED by sunlight hitting it in winter. Shading the ground (where the roots are) would appear to make it colder, not warmer. In all my years I can't recall a seriously cold damaged Bermuda lawn. Spring dead patch, yes, but not cold temps.

    I've gone into winter with lawns at 1.5" and at 3" and they all did about the same the next year. My guess is it doesn't matter much in terms of health. Weeds may be smothered out better with a thick rug there. But then that can mat down with heavy rains and walking on it.

    I found gradually taking the height down vs a one day "scalping" is easier to manage in terms of cost and labor. This year I am going to leave them a little longer and see how it goes. The dormant grass looks good moderately tall.

    Lawns do vary for whatever reasons. I've had lawns that look good at 2.5-3.5", and not as good when mowed low. But when you start them off low they can look very good as well. It's a different look, less lushly green, but more kept and formal. Hard to describe.

    As for taking advice from chemical sprayers.....my advice would be to realize that "he mowed it too low" is the standard comeback when they can't get a lawn to look right, so keep that in mind. Also, it's not easy to eyeball a lawn and say what height it was cut at. Especially as the lawns here are so wavy no two areas are the same height after mowing due to all the depressions where the grass is 1" taller than the high spot right next to it. It's smooth up top, but the plant itself can vary in height from one next to it.
  9. lawnprosteveo

    lawnprosteveo LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,930

    Are we talking U3 or Tif? I would agree that you can cut Tif shorter and it looks better. Regular U3 bermuda grows so crazy in the heat and humidity that you cant keep up with it unless you cut twice a week.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    In Alpharetta GA the odds it's not Tif are pretty slim. I went on that assumption.

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