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The Science of Lawn Mowing and its effect on TurfGrass Health

Doing Your Part

With the approach of spring comes the beginning of lawn mowing season! One of the most crucial aspects of lawn health is proper and regular mowing throughout the year. The way a lawn is cut and trimmed is something that a homeowner can control; whether you prefer to do-it-yourself or hire a service. Please take a look at the recommendations and explanations listed in this article and consider making them a part of your regular lawn mowing routine. If you work with one of our partner mowing companies they are implementing these practices already!

Mowing Height

First and foremost in the hierarchy of important mowing practices is the height of the cut. Turf type tall fescue grass, found in all lawns in Ohio and most in Northern Kentucky, has an ideal cut height of 4 inches. That is 4 inches from the base of the grass bade to the tip. Fescue prefers a 4 inch or higher cut because the blade itself is designed to shade the roots of the grass from direct sunlight. When cut too short it is unable to do this. A clear indicator of a lawn that has been mowed too low is a pale green or “yellow-ish” color to the lawn right after mowing. Lawns cut too short are also more susceptible to weed breakout, turf density issues and summer burnout. An ideal mowing height will keep the lawn looking thick and a deep shade of green throughout spring, summer and fall.


This photo of a Tall Fescue lawn, two days after mowing at 4 inches, was taken in Mason, Ohio on April 5th, 2022.

Lawn mowing frequency is almost equally as important as the cut height. Once spring growth begins, a tall fescue lawn should be mowed at least once every 7 days. With healthy soil and a regular feeding program mowing may even need to be increased to twice a week during weeks of plentiful sun and spring air. Waiting too long to mow creates two major problems. The first is, when you wait too long and the lawn has excessive growth there will be clumps of cut-grass left on the lawn after mowing. The clumps sit in the lawn and end up creating dead patches and leaving behind a mess. Secondly, waiting too long to mow and subsequently cutting too much off of the top of the grass causes stress to the grass and makes your lawn more susceptible to diseases. As a general rule, regular weekly mowing at a 4 inch height is the best practice for success.


This photo of damaged grass due to dull mower blades was taken in Loveland, Ohio on April 6th, 2022.

One of the other and less talked about factors for lawn mowing success is the type of mower used and its condition. The most important part of mower maintenance from a lawn health perspective is the sharpness of blade and angle of cut. A dull blade or improper cut angle will often tear the top of the grass blade off instead of cutting it. A mower that is under powered or cutting off too much grass at once may also tear the grass blade. The best way to avoid this issue is to maintain sharp blades, not wait too long between mowings and take half passes instead of full passes when the mower is bogging down. Cutting on a very high setting will also help keep the mower from struggling and yield better results. Tearing grass blades makes the grass more susceptible to disease pressure and often leaves the lawn looking “white” since the torn areas heal with a white tinge on top of the blade. Keeping your lawn mower blades sharp, mowing on a regular basis and keeping the cut height nice and high will give your lawn the very best opportunity to culturally control weeds and resist disease.

The Big Picture

Following a regular mowing schedule, cutting at the right height and keeping your blades sharp are the three best ways to keep your lawn healthy in conjunction with a feeding and weed control program. By putting these recommendations into practice you are helping your lawn culturally control weeds and making sure you get the most out of every lawn treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about the way your lawn looks please reach out to us at any time via phone call or email below.
Happy mowing!

Joseph Sheard
TurfGrass Experts
(513) 265-6703

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Army Worms and Their Effect on Cool Season Grasses

Army Worms in Cincinnati

The Army Worm is a pest rarely before experienced in the Greater Cincinnati area, or even the State of Ohio. A moth larvae that relies on warm night time temperatures to hatch and grow, the Army Worm or Spodoptera frugiperda has arrived and is currently running rampant in Cincinnati area lawns. The first sighting, pictured above, was photographed in the Hyde Park area last week (Wednesday August 18th, 2021). Our technicians have also reported and begun to treat Army Worms in Mount Lookout, Oakley, Kenwood, Blue Ash, Indian Hill, Terrace Park, Wyoming, Mason and Anderson.

Permanent Damage

Army Worms manage to destroy turfgrass in lawns at an extremely high rate of speed. 2000–3500 square feet of new damage in a 24-hour period is not unusual and visible damage overnight is common. The pace of damage, and the visible presence of Army Worms in larvae form makes them an easy pest to diagnose, but one that requires immediate action to treat. Cincinnati lawns comprise of cool season grass, primarily tall fescue. Unlike Southern Bermudagrass, tall fescue will not recover from Army Worms without seeding. This is why is it vitally important to report and treat Army Worms as soon as they are first sighted, before they destroy an entire lawn.

This Army Worm infestation was left un-treated and grew from a 3 inch brown patch to the condition shown in less than 5 days:

Photograph captured in Hyde Park Ohio after an emergency service call!

Treatment and Success

Army Worms can be safely and effectively eradicated with a curative insecticide. This treatment will immediately halt the progression of the Army Worms and prevent further damage and spread. The treatment should be applied professionally so that it is fully effective and guaranteed to stop the spread of damage.

Approximately 3 weeks after a curative insecticide has been applied the damaged areas will need to be assessed and seeded to bring your lawn back to full health. Seeding with turf type tall fescue grass seed is important to best match the existing grass. After seeding, a starter fertilizer should be applied to the whole lawn to promote root growth and assist the new seed with germination.

For Help and More Tips

Please reach out to us by visiting for more tips, free advice or to request help with your lawn. We service the greater Cincinnati area and offer regular lawn treatment programs, tree and shrub treatments and diagnosis and treatment of lawn diseases and pests like Army Worms.