#1 Secret To A Pretty Lawn

June 18, 2015 | By | Comments (11)
Pretty Lawn

Photo: Alison Miksch

You want a pretty lawn, so your neighbors won’t talk about you. (They will anyway, but let’s continue.) But you hate all the watering, fertilizing, and disease and weed control that producing one requires. So I’m going to give you an easy out — the single, best way to produce that thick, green carpet your neighbors will resent AND decrease your effort at the same time.

Cut your lawn high. (No, I don’t mean mow under the influence of a substance that makes you crave Raisinets and listen to “Stairway To Heaven” on your noise-canceling earphones for five solid hours.) Put another way, stop cutting your lawn too low. Grass hates to be scalped, but the weeds love it. Scalp your lawn on a routine basis and you’ll end up with nothing but weeds.

During the hot summer we’re now entering, it’s especially important not to cut your grass — no matter what kind you have — any shorter than two inches. This is because grass blades make food for the roots to grow. Scalp a lawn in hot weather and its roots essentially stop growing. The scalped lawn can’t cope with our typical summer droughts, so it turns a nice, crispy brown. You, naturally, respond by watering to turn it green and make it grow so you can scalp it once more and turn it brown so you can water it to turn it green again, ad infinitum. Nothing, outside a Mount Kiluaea lava flow, is more stressful to a nice lawn than quick grow-no grow cycles.


See any nice grass here? No, you don’t. Photo: livescience.com

So stop scalping. Two inches are the minimum in summer. For some grasses, such as St. Augustine, Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescue, set the mowing height to three inches. By doing this, you’ll find your grass stays much greener for much longer during dry weather. You won’t have to water as often and the taller grass blades will shade the weeds, making them less competitive.

And while we’re talking about mowing, please, please, PLEASE use a recycling mulching mower and don’t bag your clippings. When you bag and throw away clippings, you’re essentially bagging and tossing out the $30 bag of fertilizer you applied in spring. Returning the finely chopped blades to the lawn adds organic matter and nutrients, meaning you’ll need a lot less fertilizer in the future.




  1. Freddy Kyle Sox Sr

    Sure wish my lawn would look that way AGAIN but, I’m guilty, I cut the lawn short! I’ll stop that immediately! I use to take the lawn mower bag and, put the clippings in the flower beds but, that did not work. It just sat there and turn brown?

    Now I have “mulch blades” and the clippings fall into the grass! Thank the Good Lord for riding lawn mowers! Yes, I know, weed eaters, key start – self propelled mowers for the tight stops ……. yea, don’t forget the hand clippers, and the larger limp clippers …….. the chainsaw …….. You get the idea?

    Back the old pickup truck to the open garage and throw every in the bed ……. better to have it and not need it than, to need it and have it!
    WARNING: BE CAREFUL WQITH THE GASOLINE! That brings up another topic, oil for the gasoline oil mixture: 1:50 or 1:32, etc. You might want to throw a few tools in the back of the pickup!

    NOW FOR THE MAJOR ITEMS: 1. :Protective Glasses; 2, A good pair of Leather Gloves; AND ear plugs or what ever you use!

    Now, Are we ready to cut the lawn yet (back 400 ft. and front 200 ft.)? Since it took so long to lawn, maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow to mow the lawn? It wore me out loading the truck!

    June 24, 2015 at 9:14 am
  2. JulieAnn

    How do you educate a hard-haided husband not to scalp and bag?

    June 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm
  3. Karen

    I need help with clover and Angel rings….also my summer home had creeping Charlie…help please! I live in MI

    June 21, 2015 at 6:16 am
  4. Pamela Kirby

    My husband says that if he didn’t bag our Zoysia grass and used a mulching mower, he would have to have a de-thatcher to use in the fall. He says that we would have a mat of the mulched grass that would build up. Is this true? He still bags and throws the clippings away.

    June 21, 2015 at 1:46 am
  5. Donna

    This is a new one to me,,,,what are Devils horses? I have visions of wild horses wandering around a suburban area, but I am sure this is not correct.

    June 20, 2015 at 7:48 pm
  6. Sally

    A blank pop-up window keeps covering up your content.

    June 20, 2015 at 7:21 am
  7. Jo Haddad

    I have a family of Devil’s Horses eating anything and everything green in my flower bed!! They have chewed up the Amarillo leaves, Hidden Ginger and Butterfly Ginger leaves. Now they are eating the Fan Palm. I even saw one hanging out in the crepe myrtle. I want them gone! HELP!!

    June 19, 2015 at 10:37 am
  8. Donna

    Because my lawn is uneven, freeze/thaw cycle in the mountains, and the fact that I live on a 15-40 degree slope, I set the mower for 4″ figuring the lawn is actually cut from 2-4″ and looks even. Mulching blades and a good set of breaks on the mower, good to go.

    June 18, 2015 at 7:02 pm
  9. Kathleen

    Thanks.Very true. Same things we were taught in Hort. class in college.

    June 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm
  10. Mr. Fred

    I mow my Bermuda lawn high and use a mulching mower thanks to His “High”-ness, Grumpy of the Garden. Long may he reign!

    June 18, 2015 at 1:22 pm

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