One of the kindest things you can do for your lawn is to raise the mowing height up to 2 inches. This is especially helpful during hot summer weather. At higher mowing levels, grass has a larger root system and deeper roots. It has been established through repeated research results that grass roots are in direct proportion to the amount of top growth.
If you are a golfer you may have noticed that fairway grass, which is usually the perennial ryegrass in your own lawn, is cut much shorter than 2 inches. Certainly not because it is better for the grass, but because it is better for the golf game. Ask the golf superintendent how much time and money he spends keeping the grass green and healthy. He probably cuts the grass 3 times a week, and uses a proportionally greater amount of water, fertilizer and pesticides such as weed killers.
It is certainly possible to grow a very attractive lawn while cutting it much shorter than 2 inches, if you are willing to spend the extra effort. For example, no more than 40% or two fifths of grass blades should be removed at each mowing. If you mow at three quarters inch height, then you should mow when the grass reaches one and one quarter inches. If you mow at 2 inches, you can wait until grass reaches 3 and one quarter inches. That is over twice as much and twice as long between mowings.
Leaves are the food manufacturing organs of all plants. If you leave twice as much leaf blade growth on your lawn, your lawn produces twice as much food for lawn growth. The result: a greener, healthier lawn.
Higher mowing also reduces the light and space available for weed growth. Although there is no way to completely prevent weed invasion, everything that gives the grass an advantage helps. Longer leaf blades also contributes to grass resistance to insects and diseases.
What else can you do to keep your lawn healthy and happy? If it has been more than 6 weeks since you last applied fertilizer, apply a lawn fertilizer which contains iron and part of the nitrogen is in a slow release form. You can even apply iron only on a monthly basis to darken the color without stimulating growth rate. Iron sulfate is the cheapest and most readily available iron compound. It can be applied in granular form or dissolved in water and sprayed on. Remember, however, that iron sulfate can stain concrete a rust color if it isn’t washed off immediately. Liquid iron will turn a lawn darker green within hours.
Leaving grass clippings on the lawn can provide as much fertilizer value as one lawn fertilization. Another advantage of leaving clippings is the time saved in emptying the clipping bag and disposing of them. The biggest reason to pick up clippings is that they can be tracked into the house. However, no lawn mower is 100% efficient in throwing clippings into the bag. The 10 to 30% of clippings left on the lawn can still be tracked in.