Mowing Techniques for Weed Control
Reduce weeds by mowing the right way!
Weeds are a fact of life when it comes to maintaining your lawn and landscape. It’s almost impossible to keep your property completely weed-free, even with the use of chemicals. Certain times of year also present big challenges when it comes to weed-control. Spring is the time when we experience heavy weed growth in North Texas. If weather is mild and rainfall plenty, you’ll typically see an explosion of weeds, even in the most manicured of landscapes.
If you maintain your lawn organically, there are natural ways to suppress spring weeds without the use of chemicals. However, a total monoculture (one turf grass, no weeds) isn’t a natural condition and one should expect some weeds in a healthy organic lawn. You should still expect to hand-pull some weeds as needed. A healthy, vigorous lawn will better out-compete weeds over time. Proper feeding and watering year-round, plus mowing your lawn the right way, can help keep weed pressure down naturally.
Where Do Spring Weeds Come From?
The weeds you see in your spring lawn and landscape are actually cool-season weeds; they germinated the previous fall and have grown slowly through the winter months. As soon as temperatures start to warm up in late-winter and early spring, and rainfall starts, cool-season weeds explode! They’ll grow very quickly and even start blooming. Once weeds have flowered and gone to seed, more weeds will spread across your lawn and garden. The more they bloom, the bigger the problem gets. So what can you do to stop it?
When should you start mowing?
Mowing on schedule is key to cutting down on weed spread in your lawn. If you delay your spring mowing, chances are many weeds will start flowering and spread more weed seed before you realize it. Once you see weeds beginning to actively grow in your lawn, it’s time to start mowing them so they can’t bloom. If you don't start mowing your lawn in time, and keep up with it regularly, weeds will flower and spread seed.
While most warm season grasses won’t need mowing until temperatures warm in mid-March, many spring weeds will be actively growing and going to flower earlier. Starting your mowing a bit early so you can mow down the first flush of lawn weeds is a good rule of thumb. Starting to mow a bit early can also help more sunlight reach the soil, which warms it sooner. This can help your warm season lawns begin to actively grow a bit earlier.
While we do recommend you start mowing a bit earlier in spring, you don’t want to mow your lawn at the wrong height. The golden rule of mowing is to never remove more than 1/3 of the existing grass blade in a single mowing. When you do, it can shock the lawn. Cutting your grass too short reduces water retention, meaning you’ll have to water more. Plus, when plants are stressed, they attract more pests and diseases. Suddenly, all that extra mowing seems like just an invitation for more work. Plus, when mowing early for weed control, remember that you only need to mow such that you’re removing the tops of weeds, which include the flower heads.
Knowing which type of turf grass you have and how to mow it properly is important.
- Bermuda – 1 ½” to 1 ¾” tall
- St. Augustine – 3” – 3 ½ ” tall
- Tiff – 1” tall
- Zoysia – 1 ½” – 2 ¼ ” tall
- Buffalo Grass – 2” – 3” tall
Grass at this height will absorb more sunlight, retain more water and shade out potential weeds.
What to do with clippings
It’s also best to leave the clippings on the lawn, instead of bagging them. Now, don’t leave big clumps of clippings. If you’re mowing properly by only removing 1/3 or less of the blade, and only mowing when it’s dry, then the clippings should naturally disperse into the lawn. These clippings will decompose quickly when consumed by beneficial bacteria, which turn the clippings into food for the lawn. Plus, you’ll be keeping that valuable carbon matter out of the landfill! And by the way, lawn clippings don’t cause thatch (unless you’re over-fertilizing, over-watering and over-mowing).
Proper mowing is part of an organic maintenance plan that includes organic fertilization for your plants and your soil. There is no quick fix for an organic, sustainable, beautiful lawn and garden! A long-term organic maintenance plan that feeds the soil, not just your plants, will keep grass roots thriving so that over time, they will naturally suppress weeds. Contact us to learn more about how our Soil Building plan reduces weeds over time.