Mow High – I mean really high!!!!

No, this is not an endorsement for certain recreational activities, but rather a little encouragement as the dog days of summer (which really have nothing to do with man’s best friend, but that’s another story) settle in. I feel so strongly about this topic, I’m even going to reiterate some of my earlier posts about mowing.

My wife and I had a bet going earlier in the season while watching our various neighbors (not that we watch our neighbors as a habit mind you), to see who would be the first Lawn Rancher out of the gate this spring, intent on bending each leaf of grass under the mower’s blade. It feels great, does it not? It feels like you are really doing something, mowing the lawn. Getting at it early. We do not want the neighbors to think ill of us, do we now? Inevitably every spring/summer, one of our neighbors is out mowing their perfect green, crush-resistant carpet, clipping it nice and short, and often-as if Tiger Woods might be tempted to stop and practice putting on their front yard.

Here is a thought: wait. There are many sound, beneficial reasons to allow your suburban pasture to grow taller before you go at it. Not only will raising your mower deck to 3.5 – 4 inches promote healthier, more disease and drought resistant grass, but it puts greater pressure on broadleaf “weeds” and those nasty grubs.

Taller mowing heights may save some cash, too. Taller grass means potentially fewer number of times you DIY or pay someone to lay down the pesticide law. You might not even need to turn those sprinklers on as often, not that we’ve needed them this year! I love those people who have a putting green for a front yard and then are fertilizing and sprinkling constantly because the grass is overfed and overstressed. Then they are calling on the dude with the tank truck and long hose to come fix their disease issues. I know when I am overfed and overstressed (think the Monday morning after Thanksgiving!), I am in a weakened state and more prone to bodily issues myself. The best gardening practices, however, should promote promote a healthy strong plant as the best defense against pest and disease.

There is a great quote from the Michigan State article linked above I will close with:

“The weed and grub control provided by mowing high means you can use less pesticide on your lawn. In fact, if you combine mowing high with modest applications of fertilizer (1 to 4 lbs N per year, depending on how green you want your lawn), and watering during dry periods, you may not need to use any pesticides – herbicide for weeds or insecticide for grubs – on your lawn.”

Read that again: you may not need to use any pesticides. Seems pretty easy. Who knew, right?

Josh Steffen
Horticulture and Facilities Manager