The 3 Most Common Lawn Mowing Mistakes that Birmingham, AL Homeowners Make

Hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rainfall all boil down to one thing: lots of mowing. The NOAA expects this hurricane season to be “extremely active,” predicting the most activity since 2010 coming in from the Atlantic. Birmingham is vulnerable to these incoming storms. While many problems come with these conditions, mowing is just a minuscule chore to keep up with. However, because water is a plentiful variable in the equation of lawn care for Birmingham home owners, here are some tips on how to mow correctly this summer.

1. Avoid Mowing Too Short

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Mowing the lawn too short is probably the most common mistake that homeowners make. Mowing the grass too short often excels a person into thinking they will not have to do it again for a long time. Unfortunately, this is only true because it can kill the lawn. Mowing a lawn shorter than what experts advise for a certain strain of grass exposes the stems of the grass to direct sunlight, leading to bare spots in the lawn and eventually killing the grass altogether. During any mowing session, only a third of the blade should be removed. Keeping the lawn mowed at the proper height ensures the grass stays dense and healthy.

Leading grasses in Birmingham and suggested mowing length:

  • Heat tolerant Bluegrass: 2 ½ to 3 inches
  • Bermudagrass: 1 to 1 ½ inches
  • Centipede grass: 1 to 1 ½ inches
  • St.Augustine: 2 ½ to 4 inches
  • Tall Fescue: 2 to 3 inches
  • Zoysia grass: 1 to 2 inches

2. Sharpen the Mower Blades

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This is such an easy task to neglect because it is hard to see the effects dull blades have on the lawn right away. The mower blades move at such a fast pace that even dull blades will still cut the grass, however, instead of a clean cut the dull blade will tear the grass blade. Tearing the grass blade can make the blade’s tip turn brown and cause the grass to be more susceptible to disease. To prevent dull blades, experts recommend sharpening the blades two times a year. There will be little nicks on the blade, making the blade look slightly rugged, that let you know when it is time to sharpen it. To sharpen the blade you can opt to buy a sharpening tool and do it yourself, or services often price each sharpening at 15 to 20 dollars.

3. Leave the Excess Clippings

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Lawns can benefit from the excess clippings left behind after mowing. There is a common misconception that clippings should be scrapped but this idea surrounds the aesthetic of the lawn, not the health benefits. Experts say that a fourth of all the nutrients a lawn needs is found in the decomposition of the excess clippings. The clippings contain Phosphorous, Nitrogen, and Potassium: three main components in fertilizers on the market.

Another misconception is that grass clippings can contribute to the thatch, the layer of debris in-between the blades of grass that stunts the overall growth and can host a variety of different harmful bacterias. However, this is not the case because the tips of the grass blades decompose at such a fast rate it does not have the time to build up. In any case, it is important to maintain that the thatch does not exceed ½ an inch in depth so that the grass clippings can make their way to the roots.

There are certain circumstances when your lawn will benefit from removing excess clippings. Times you should remove the clippings include:

  • The grass clippings are longer than an inch
  • Wet grass: don’t mow after it rains
  • An area of grass contains pests
  • An area of grass has a disease

When the grass clippings exceed an inch they can over cover the grass making the grass beneath unable to get the proper oxygen and water. Mowing wet grass has the same effect on a lawn, and experts suggest not mowing after any rain. It can hurt the lawn mower as well. For lawns with current patches of disease or pests, leaving the clippings around the yard can spread the disease or pest. It is recommended to treat these areas before you can start the process of leaving clippings in the yard.

Lawn care can be a simple and organic. Using these precautionary measures will allow for fewer fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers in the future.

Have more questions about lawn care? Visit our Birmingham lawn care page for more information.

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Brooke Anguiano