Mowing for Florida Grass Types

Mowing your lawn is probably the most common maintenance activity you do in your yard, and quite possibly the most time-consuming. You can make sure you're mowing properly to maximize your lawn's health and appearance by following these guidelines.

First, mowing at the right height is critical to your lawn's success. Cutting too short can damage grass blades, stunt growth and potentially invite disease and/or pests. Different grass types prefer different mowing heights to be their best. Visit the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook and navigate to page 13 for a list of the four most common grass types in Florida, and the recommended mowing height for each.

Before mowing, make sure your mower blades are sharp. Dull blades will shred grass instead of cutting it cleanly, leaving larger open abrasions that are more difficult to heal and can invite disease. Sharp blades will also provide a more even, attractive-looking cut. It's also best to use a mulching mower, as opposed to bagging grass clippings, that allows cuttings to stay in the lawn where they will decompose and provide extra nutrients.

A few additional tips for mowing your lawn:

  • Avoid mowing when the grass is wet. This prevents clumping and helps spread out the clippings to maximize their fertilizing effect.

  • Mow in a different direction each time. Alternating between 2 or 3 different patterns helps prevent wear patterns and spreads out clippings more effectively.

  • On rare occasions, you may wish to bag your grass clippings - when the grass is very long or there are many leaves in the lawn, and leaving them in the grass would inhibit growth. In this case, consider adding the clippings to your compost pile, where they can decompose and be used as fertilizer later.

Recycling Yard Waste

Similarly, maintaining a compost pile or bin can provide an added boost to your lawn and plants. Composting is easy—just make a pile of all your yard waste (and certain types of kitchen waste) and let it decompose for a few months. Consider using a bin to help things decompose faster and prevent having an unsightly pile outside your home. To speed up the composting process, turn the pile with a shovel or pitchfork once a week. You're also better off covering the pile and adding a little water whenever you put new material in it, so it stays damp but not wet.

By composting yard waste, you can add and environmentally friendly and cost effective source of natural fertilizer for use in gardens or flower beds. For more information on composting and some helpful recycling tips, download the Florida-Friendly Landscaping recycling guide.

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