Proper Mowing of Tall Fescue
One of the easiest ways to promote a healthy lawn is to practice proper mowing habits. We recommend you follow these mowing best practices—and of course, make sure to water too!
Keep Mowing High
The ideal mowing height for Tall Fescue is 3.5-4 inches. Virginia Green recommends always keeping the mower deck at the highest possible setting. Check the mowing height by placing a ruler in your lawn and measure the grass from the soil to the tip of the leaf blade after it is mowed.
- Mowing tall promotes a thicker lawn – taller shoots create deeper roots.
- More leaf material results in better photosynthesis, allowing the plant to fully mature and drive more roots into the soil.
- A tall, thick lawn will help reduce weed competition.
It’s also important to be sure the lawnmower has a sharp blade. Mowing with a dull blade will result in “torn” leaf blades. This causes the lawn to have a tan or brownish tint. It can also stress the grass plants, which may lead to further issues. Monitor the sharpness often and sharpen or replace the blade as needed – this can be done yourself or by a professional.
Tall Fescue is a cool-season grass. This means most of the growth occurs during the spring and fall months. Mowing frequency will need to increase during these times of the year. It’s important to mow often enough to ensure that no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed at one time. Cutting too much leaf material at once can damage the plant. Conversely, Tall Fescue will not be growing as rapidly during the summer. Therefore, mowing frequency should be reduced to an “as needed” basis at this time.
Vary the Mowing Pattern
It is important to vary your mowing pattern to reduce the compaction of the soil. Riding mowers, while convenient, are heavy and will continually compact the soil. In less-compacted soils, turf roots grow deeper and are less susceptible to heat stress since the water can penetrate deeper into the roots.