Whether you have moved into a new home with a jungle or you’ve let the lawn get overgrown yourself, this is not a great situation for the health of your lawn nor the look of your property. The best way to deal with an overgrown lawn depends on the variety of grass you have.
Severe lawn mowing of buffalo lawn is not a great idea since you run a very real risk of the lawn dying off in places or even dying off completely. Extra care is needed to get a buffalo lawn back under control. Buffalo grass only has above ground runners (stolons) so when the lawn grows long and high so do the crowns, which are essentially the centre of the grass plants; removing the crowns means the grass will die.
The Daleys Turf team recommend getting your buffalo lawn back to an appropriate and healthy length over a period of time – don’t try and ‘fix’ it in one day. Lower your mowing height a little each time and undertake multiple lawn mowings. Using this method the lawn will be ‘retrained’ to grow the crowns lower down and therefore further mowing will not remove them. If the lawn is particularly overgrown then a certain amount of dying off may be unavoidable; limiting the damage as much as possible will help the lawn to recover.
Lower the mowing height every second mow and mow every week until the optimal lawn length of 35-65 mms is achieved. You should complete this process during the warmer weather when the lawn is in its growing phase.
Couch, Kikuyu and Zoysia Turfs
These varieties of lawn differ from buffalo grass in that they contain both above ground runners (stolons) and below ground runners (rhizomes). This means that they can recover from severe lawn mowing using the below ground runners should the crowns be removed. Again, it’s best to get the lawn back into shape over a few lawn mowings rather than attempting it in one go to avoid undue damage, shock and stress to the grass plants.
The Risks of Mowing an Overgrown Lawn
As mentioned above, all lawns develop and grow from a part of the plant called a crown. If the crown of a plant or lawn is removed, then that part of the lawn will die. So, the crowns of lawns are vitally important and when they are found inside a lawn – there are thousands or even millions of crowns which live inside the thatch layer of the lawn. As a lawn increases in height, the thatch layer increases in height and the crowns of the lawn also rise higher.
If the lawn is mowed to a low level while in this state, then the lawn mowing will remove these crowns and severely damage or kill most lawn types in the process.
How to Safely Mow an Overgrown Lawn
Mowing and reducing the height of an overgrown lawn can be done very safely and without ever damaging the lawn, scalping it, or killing it in areas. To do this, the lawn will need to be mowed in stages to slowly reduce the mowing height over a couple of months.
The first cut should be mowed at a very high height. Over subsequent cuts, the lawn mowing height is gradually reduced until the desired height is achieved. The entire process may take around 2 – 3 months to complete – depending on how overgrown the lawn is to begin with.
As mowing heights are reduced, the crowns of the lawn will naturally begin to grow lower inside the thatch layer where it is cooler and shaded.
If at any time the lawn begins to look brown and scalped after lawn mowing, then any further height reduction should be stopped until the lawn greens up and repairs itself again. Once the lawn has been restored to health, then gradual height reductions can be resumed.
In The Future
Regular lawn mowing is the key to success when safely lowering lawn mowing heights. When undergoing the process of reducing the lawn height, lawn mowing should be undertaken as regularly as possible. This generally mean mowing every 1 – 2 weeks in Summer and every 2 – 3 weeks in Autumn and Spring.
Of course, once the lawn has been safely reduced in height, your lawn should always be mowed regularly to stay green and healthy – and to not get out of control again.