How many of you can relate to the picture above? Summer has arrived and along with it came warmer temperatures and higher humidity. By now, you are probably losing your ambition to get outside and mow your yard. As a result, your lawn which was once a peaceful oasis has become a jungle that is tall enough to lose your dog.
While it is not alway necessary to mow your lawn weekly, we are in the peak growing season for warm-season grasses. As a result, it may be necessary to mow more frequently to maintain the visual quality and ensure optimum disease and insect resistance. The rule of thumb when it comes to mowing your is to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue with each mowing. For instance, if you prefer to mow your yard at a 4” height (which is ideal for most St. Augustinegrass home lawns), you would need to mow again once the grass is approximately 5.5” tall. Removing more than 1/3 of the tissue stresses the plant and results in reduced root growth due to the loss of photosynthetic capacity. As root growth declines, the plants are unable to use the moisture and nutrient reserves in the soil efficiently. This is particularly important in areas with sporadic rainfall conditions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to remove an excessive amount of clippings (like those times when you seem to lose your dog in the yard), be sure to spread the clippings out evenly to avoid piles accumulating in localized areas. This can be achieved by raking or by mowing again to cut the clippings into smaller pieces and spread them out some more. Otherwise, the piles will limit access of the underlying plants to sunlight, which will result in yellowing of the turfgrass tissue that is trying to grow under the pile.
As always, take a few extra minutes to clean off the street, sidewalks, and driveway to limit or prevent the movement of clippings into the storm water drainage system. Turfgrass clippings are an excellent source of nutrients that, when mulched during mowing provide up to 1/3 of the nitrogen requirements of your lawn. However, if the clippings are allowed to reach the storm water system they can contribute significantly to the contamination of water bodies.