Safely Mowing An Overgrown Lawn

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Whatever the reason why our turf might have become overgrown, it is now time to deal with the problem and to bring our lawns into full health and control once more. However, mowing an overgrown lawn may bring risk of harm to the lawn if we are not careful in how we go about cutting back the surplus growth, as mowing an overgrown lawn can actually result in severely damaging the lawn or perhaps even killing the yard if the mowing is not done correctly.

Why Mowing An Overgrown Lawn Can Cause Damage

All development of lawns comes from a portion of the bud called a crown. It is from these crowns that spring forth new runners in warm season grasses, as well as new lawn leaf material in most grasses. If these crowns are removed or damaged during lawn mowing then it will become impossible for new lawn growth to happen in any way, which in turn can kill the grass in any affected turf areas where this occurs.

However for some warm season grasses like Zoysia and Bermuda grasses, these lawn types have underground runners that can repair a yard where the above surface lawn was killed or had its crowns removed with lawn mowing. Though it’s not a guarantee that warm season lawns will fix when they are severely damaged.

The problem we have with overgrown turf is that these crowns can increase far higher above the ground level whenever the yard becomes overgrown. Then if we mow the overgrown lawn at our regular lawn mowing heightswe could in fact be removing the now raised crowns in the yard mowing process, thus severely damaging or even killing the yard in the affected region where this has occurred.

We therefore need to adjust our mowing practice whenever we are tackling an overgrown yard to bring it back into an orderly condition.

If we are going to start to mow our lawns more frequently from now on, then the best solution for us in handling an overgrown grass is to slowly reduce yard mowing heights over time. Not taking too much leaf material off at the first lawn mowing, and then maybe slowly reducing lawn mowing heights at every third service, until slowly we get our lawns back to their best mowing heights.

This approach is the safest of all, and while it does take a while to bring our yards back to their very best appearance, it will never risk damaging the turf. What is going on in this approach is two-fold: firstly we are not removing these crowns while lawn mowing, so the grass does not die off; secondly, as the turf is gradually being lowered over time, the turf will adjust itself to the new growing environment by continuously growing all of its fresh crowns at the lower heights that we have introduced. Gradually, over time, we have safely lowered the lawn height and safely trained the lawn to grow all new crowns lower and nearer to the soil level where they belong.

Mowing An Overgrown Lawn In A Single Lawn Mowing

As already discussed, this will be safer to do with a warm season lawn than using a cool season lawn, so the risk and results of the remain with the yard owner or whomever is mowing the overgrown lawn.

If this is a single lawn mowing meant to quickly tidy up an overgrown lawn, then it would also be expected that we wouldn’t want to kill the lawn in the procedure. Therefore the ideal approach to mowing an overgrown lawn which isn’t going to be regularly mowed thereafter is to mow the lawn in the maximum height potential that is acceptable to the yard owner.

By mowing at this higher height we are doing our very best to not be damaging or removing a lot of grass crowns during the yard mowing process, therefore this can give us our best result to maintain a lawn that stays alive and in the best possible health following this lawn mowing. While the lawn will not look at its best, it’s the safest possible option for us in this situation and to ensure the ongoing survival of the lawn.

Final Notes About Mowing Long Grass

There are often hidden obstacles in long overgrown grass, this could be anything from rocks, toys, glass, tools, or any way of things. Such items could become dangerous if hit with lawn mower blades, making a projectile which risks damage to property or people. Therefore all long grass areas should be carefully checked before any yard mowing taking place.

Finally, whenever we remove a lot of grass leaf material using a single mowing, we’re going to be cutting to the brown thatch layer of the turf, and the longer the lawn becomes, so too will the thatch layer increase in elevation too. Therefore we should expect a browning off on the grass wherever lots of green leaf has been removed at once. As long as the yard is properly watered and cared for after the lawn mowing, this thatch layer should decrease over a brief period of time and new green leaf grown by the yard.

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