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Lawn Treatment Solutions Blog

Should I Bag My Clippings When I Mow?

It is usually (but not always) best to leave the clippings on the lawn.

Grass clippings decompose quickly and return nutrients to the soil. This can improve the appearance of your lawn without additional fertilizers. Mow as frequently as necessary to keep the clippings manageable by the natural decomposition process and your yard will look great and will be healthier.

When should I especially avoid bagging the clippings?

If a spray treatment was recently done on your lawn, then bagging the clippings will remove some of the solution that was sprayed on your lawn. This is something you want to avoid as you want all of the solution to stay on the lawn.

If you prefer to regularly bag your clippings then we recommend mowing at least once without bagging the clippings after a spray treatment so your lawn will get the maximum benefit from the lawn treatment that was done. You should also ensure that the treatment has been watered in from rain or irrigation.

Is there ever a time I should bag the clippings?

Yes, there are a few. 

If you were extra busy and the grass grew a little too long before you cut it then we recommend bagging the clippings.

If the grass was really long, leaving the clippings on the lawn may result in rows of hay on the lawn. Hay on the lawn reduces air movement through the blades of grass.

When air isn’t able to move through the grass, pathogenic fungi may develop.  This is something you want to avoid.

So, if the grass was too long when you cut it, bagging the clippings will be beneficial.

Take special care to bag the clippings if you have a Tall Fescue lawn in the Wake Forest/Rolesville area and the grass grew too long. Tall Fescue is at high risk for fungal disease through the summer months. Most fungal diseases develop on the blades of grass and are caused by warm temperatures and prolonged moisture. Late-day showers, high dew points, and improper irrigation cause prolonged moisture on the grass blades. Heavy clippings can hold moisture on the grass blades which may make a fungal disease more likely. 

Prior to fall seeding of Tall Fescue lawns, we recommend cutting the grass a couple notches lower than the normal recommendation of 3.5” and bagging the clippings.

Removing some of the top growth allows more light to reach the seeds at the surface of the soil, which improves germination.

This also enables you to skip a week of mowing while the new seedlings are sprouting. 

At the end of the growing season for your grass, you may want to bag the clippings for appearance.

The soil is cooler and soil microorganisms are not active so the clippings will not decompose quickly. The clippings will lay on the lawn for longer before decomposing.

Clippings laying on the lawn during winter usually will not affect the health of the grass, but you might not like what they look like on your lawn.

Through the winter when the clippings are not decomposing they are more likely to be tracked into the house by you and your loved ones. 

Prior to a late winter pre-emergent application, we recommend cutting the lawn lower than the usual setting and bagging the clippings

Pre-emergent works by creating a barrier on the soil that stops weeds from growing immediately after they germinate which prevents an undesired weed problem during summer.

Setting the mower deck a little lower than normally recommended and bagging the clippings helps to remove some dormant top growth and other organic debris which improves pre-emergent coverage.   

In situations when you are unsure whether to bag the clippings, contact your lawn care professional. Crownover Green is always eager to provide our clients with guidance to support a healthy and beautiful lawn.


Lawn Treatment Solutions Blog

Regardless of the type of turfgrass you have, one of the most important things you can do to help it grow healthy and green while minimizing weeds and fungal diseases is to mow it at its optimum height.
A common misconception exists among homeowners and some professional mowing services alike that the higher the grass is mowed, the healthier it will be. However, field studies indicate that there is an optimum mowing height for different types of grasses. 
Tall Fescue

The optimum mowing height for Tall Fescue is 3 to 3.5 inches.

Cutting it higher than recommended is shown to increase the risk for fungal disease during summer. Cutting it lower causes plant stress, which increases the risk for damage from environmental stressors. There are two exceptions to this rule.

We recommend cutting it lower the first time you mow in late winter prior to preemergent application in order to improve pre-emergent coverage, and then just before its fall renovation in order to improve seed germination.  

Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass

These are warm-season grasses, which should be mowed on the lower height settings of your mower. Our general recommendation is to mow warm-season grasses at 1.5 to 2 inches for the best results on a home lawn. A warm-season turfgrass should not be mowed higher than 2 inches.

Bermudagrass can be mowed as low as .5 inch, though you risk scalping the lawn where there may be bumps and ruts.  Centipedegrass and Zoysiagrass are ideally mowed at 1.5 inches.

Mowing a warm-season turfgrass as high as possible does not decrease weeds or make the grass healthier or greener. In fact, it can sometimes have the opposite effect.     

Mowing Frequency

Regardless of the type of grass you have, avoid cutting off more than 1/3 of the blade each time you mow.

Letting your grass grow long and then cutting off more than 1/3 at once zaps its energy, which makes it more susceptible to damage from environmental stressors.

Weekly mowing should be ok for most of the growing season, but during peak growing conditions more frequent mowing may be needed.


Lawn Treatment Solutions Blog
We often talk with clients about watering lawns (especially this time of year when it’s HOT, HOT, HOT) and the most frequently asked questions related to watering are:
  1.  How often should I water my grass?
  2.  How long should I run my sprinklers?

How often should I water my grass?

The answer to this question is simple: Usually not more than twice per week unless you are establishing a new lawn with sod or seed. More frequent watering may cause problems with your lawn.
Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass usually will look good and stay healthy with deep irrigation once weekly. Twice weekly would be plenty.

Tall Fescue will certainly need deep irrigation twice per week. Three times may be necessary for Tall Fescue during the hottest, driest weeks of summer, but setting your sprinklers to run three or more times per week regardless of rainfall increases the risk for fungal disease in a Tall Fescue lawn.

Many people water twice a day, every day, every other day, or at least three times per week. If you are one of these people you may be creating an ideal environment for fungal disease and some of the most invasive and hard-to-control weeds.

Some of the most frequently watered lawns that we see in the Wake Forest/Rolesville area have the worst problems with tough summer weeds—namely nutsedge, which thrives in persistently moist soil.

Pathogenic fungi also love moisture. They develop on the blades of your grass, and the more frequently you wet your grass the more likely you will be to eventually see a fungal disease, especially if you have Tall Fescue grass.

The too-frequent waterers tend to be those who have automated irrigation systems. In our experience, lawns of clients who have automated irrigation systems are more likely to develop signs of pathogenic fungus and have the worst problems with nutsedge throughout the summer.
How long should I run my sprinklers?
The length of time your sprinklers should run depends on the particular sprinklers you use and the area they are covering.
The answer to this question is not as simple because different types of sprinklers vary in the amount of water they put out in a given amount of time. Sprinkler heads vary in their rate of output and range of motion.
Here’s how to determine how long to run your sprinklers.

Put out a few soup bowls around your lawn. Then run your sprinklers to see how long it takes to fill them with a certain amount of water. Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass lawns will thrive on 1″ of water per week through the summer. Tall Fescue lawns need about 1.5″ of water per week.

If you have an automated in-ground irrigation system, be sure to put bowls in the various zones of the system. If you use hose-end sprinklers that require adjusting the range of motion for different parts of your lawn, then put the bowls in each area as you water.

The best practice for lawn irrigation is to measure rainfall and manually run sprinklers only when needed to supplement rainfall.
Here’s an alternative for those with automated irrigation systems who are too busy to monitor the needs of your lawn:

Consider programming your system to apply about 50-75% of the total amount of water your lawn needs. If rain does not make up the other 25-50% for a given week, then run your sprinklers one additional time to make up the difference.