The question over how to maintain a healthy, green lawn has plagued homeowners for years. You may have wondered how high to cut your lawn, what the best pattern to cut your grass is, and whether you should bag the grass clippings or let them lie. The answers are not always simple. But a good overview should help you decide on your own, and for that purpose we’ve included a bit of a guide below.
The proper height to cut your lawn --at least where we’re located in SE Pennsylvania (Zone 7)-- is anywhere between 3.5 to 4 inches. Cutting the lawn at this height provides grass with room to grow and thrive, which in turn helps block sunlight from reaching lower-growing weeds. The additional--and arguably more important--benefit of cutting your grass taller is that it motivates the root system to grow deeper and become more established over time. Better roots equal healthier grass and less room for weeds to grow. It’s a win-win for your lawn--and you.
To Bag or Not to Bag
Another common debate exists over whether it’s best to bag clippings or simply let them lie. In our humble opinion, as turf care and landscape maintenance experts, it’s best to let them lie. Doing so helps provide beneficial microorganisms and feed earthworms, which in turn act as a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
There are some reasons you might go the other way though. One situation in particular is whenever your grass is battling a fungus or disease that might spread via clippings. Another is whenever you’re cutting an overgrown lawn, where the weight and quantity of the clippings might mat down and block sunlight from the grass below, creating brown spots and “suffocating” the lawn. These situations aren’t likely to occur on a weekly basis--if at all--but they’re good to keep in mind!
Finally we get to everyone’s favorite subject: patterns. Of course we’d all like our lawns to look like a checkered baseball field each week because, well, it looks cool. But there’s lawn-health benefits too--mainly that the checkerboard style is created by alternating patterns from one cut to the next, which prevents wheel ruts from developing and grass from becoming “trained” to lie in one direction only. By switching things up each cut, you keep your yard in better shape, with natural looking grass that doesn’t fold over or rise up and down in divots.
In the end, any professional lawn care service should already be aware of all the information presented here. If you feel like they’re not following the guidelines correctly, simply ask them why. It could be that they know something about your property that we don’t. Or maybe they’re cutting corners at your expense. Either way, you’ll want to know!