Remember two simple rules in the spring: mow high and mow often

Spring growth is vital to a healthy lawn. Lawn treatments, seeding, aeration and fertilizers are key to creating and maintaining a lush lawn, but proper mowing is vital. Grass plants need to be cut cleanly and consistently.

Setting your mower above 3 inches protects against drought, insects and invasive weeds. The height of the leaf corresponds to the length of the root system. During spring, Kentucky bluegrass is recovering. Taller grass allows the rhizomes beneath the soil to form longer, stronger bonds. This hearty sod prevents weeds and invasive insects from penetrating your lawn. Tall grass also retains vital nutrients, holds in moisture and provides shade to cool the soil as temperatures rise.

Mowing often reduces the stress on the plant and is crucial to creating fine mulch. Whether your lawn is mature or you are trying to improve the health of your grass, never cut more than a third of the plant. While this means you may mow every third or fourth day in the first few weeks of the season, removing a minimal amount of each grass blade strengthens the root system and allows for smaller clippings. Small clippings feed your lawn. Long clippings damage grass in a number of ways: greater damage to the grass stalls growth and weakens roots; clumps of excess grass clippings block sunlight, starve the growing plant beneath and may promote fungal growth; and finally longer clippings clog mower decks stalling performance and straining your equipment.

If you are leaving clippings or clumps, stop mowing and consider these steps. First, raise the height. If this doesn’t help, try bagging the clippings. If you cannot bag the clippings, examine your deck and blade. A deck packed with grass cannot perform well and strains all components including engine, belts, pulleys and blades. Clean the deck as described in your owners manual.

Remember to sharpen and replace blades regularly. Dull blades rip the grass. White and light brown tips across your lawn indicate stressed grass. Excessive water and nutrient loss may be prevented with a new blade and following the guidelines above. If your blade is dull, sharpen or replace it on a regular schedule. A blade should be cleaned, sharpened and balanced every 10-12 cuts. Consider using the holidays as a guide to sharpening or installing a new blade (Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July & Labor Day).

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