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Longer Blades = Longer Roots
One of the easiest ways that you can strengthen your turf grass is by adjusting your lawn mower to a higher setting. Higher mowing height means taller grass blades which have been shown to develop deeper and more spread-out root systems. Larger root networks are better able to draw on the water from a larger radius of soil and more root space allows for more water storage. The result is that taller grasses actually look healthier and, as a bonus, are better able to outcompete weeds and resist disease. It is a win in every direction.
You may have noticed that these last few weeks a lot of what we talked about has been about developing more robust root networks whether that is through gauging irrigation depth, watering deeply but infrequently (without overwatering) to encourage deeper roots, or aerating to create space and add nutrients deeper into the soil. It is all part of that same strategy of building up resilient turf grass that can absorb water, store it, and use it when necessary instead of relying on frequent irrigation. This tip is the easiest way yet to achieve that goal.
Our experts at UC Davis provided some great resources to help you determine when you should mow your grass and how to set your mower. The ideal mowing height depends on what type of grass you have (warm season vs cool season), but for all grasses you’ll want to cut no more than 1/3 of the total blade height at any one time. Cutting the blade too low may weaken it by not leaving enough green tissue for photosynthesis, which translates into too little energy to grow deep roots. Similarly, cutting off too much at a time weakens the grass, removes stored up water in the blade, and redirects energy towards growing new blades instead of stronger roots.
Sooo, next week we’ll talk about what to do with those grass clippings after you mow and how they too can be an important part of strengthening your soil. If you liked how easy this week’s tip was (just set your mower higher!), you’ll love next week.
Let me know how it goes to adjust your mower and if you see a change in your turf grass!