A healthy Saint Augustine lawn which is flourishing and growing rapidly at or above peak growing rates, will require a lawn mowing frequency that is exactly matched to the growth rate of that lawn, or may otherwise risk possible damaging results to the lawn, over time.
A Saint Augustine lawn which is growing fast will not only produce excessive leaf material that is most easily seen and which is telling us it’s time to mow the lawn, but the Saint Augustine lawn will also be equally increasing its thatch layer underneath all that long green grass which is so noticeable to the eye, yet we may not notice the ever increasing layer of thatch.
As an example, let’s say we have a St Augustine lawn which is only being mowed once a month in the Summer, yet in those few weeks the lawn leaf may grow 7 inches. This is obviously a very vigorously growing lawn and very unusual. The risk we face here is that despite this immense growth rate of the turf, the owner is leaving the lawn a month between cuts. So let’s have a look at the problems this lawn owner is facing with their lawn.
The first problem is that because the lawn is so long in its leaf, it cannot be cut too short in order to remove all that lawn growth. To do so in Summer would put the lawn at risk of shock from sunburn and drying out or perhaps seriously damaging the lawn in some areas. So this lawn has to be mowed at a higher than recommended cutting height.
While this leaves the lawn looking quite thick and lush, and does keep the lawn heathy in Summer and not at any risk of browning off or burning in the heat of Summer, the issue is that the thatch layer has also increased between these lawn mowing cycles, and this has not been touched at all by the lawn mowing.
So over time, the lawn continues to be mowed at these higher than preferred mowing heights, and that thatch layer always remains, always slowly increasing over time. For and experience lawn mowing professional, they will automatically adjust mowing heights so not to cut into this thatch too much so as not to risk any damage to the lawn.
And over time, and over seasons, the thatch layer problem only worsens.
Matching Lawn Mowing Frequency To Lawn Growth Rates
Alternatively, the way such a vigorously growing lawn should be managed with its lawn mowing frequencies is to match the lawn mowing to the growth rates of the lawn, dependent on the season. Mowing more frequently in Summer, less so in Fall and Spring, and even less so in the Winter.
If instead this particular lawn were to be mowed perhaps once a week, or once every two weeks in peak growing season, then both the lawn leaf and the thatch layer of the lawn could always be cut at the correct and preferred mowing heights, with absolutely no buildup of thatch, and without ever risking any damage to the lawn by cutting too short and by cutting into stoloniferous thatch during the heat of Summer.
Matching lawn mowing frequency to the growth rates of the lawn is one of the key fundamentals in maintaining a healthy and beautiful lawn year round. And this lawn care practice becomes even more important when the lawn is growing vigorously and is extremely healthy.
Repairing A Thatched Up Saint Augustine Lawn
If we’ve made this mistake on our own lawns and the thatch layer has begun to increase to worrying and noticeable levels, then lawn repair is required to keep this thatch under control before it really gets out of hand. There are articles on this site about this topic, though the premise is an easy one, so we’ll share it here too:
If the Saint Augustine lawn has thatched too heavily over Summer due to excessive growth rates and less than required lawn mowing frequencies, then this repair cannot be done in the Summer time without risking damage to the lawn.
In Fall, keep the lawn healthy and keep cutting it at the usual Summer heights, we don’t want any shock to the lawn or to bring it into any state of being unhealthy over Winter, so it’s best to keep things as they are and enjoy our lovely green lawn.
If our region is warm enough that lawn mowing can still be done in the Winter, then we want to do that at the same heights from Summer and Fall. We don’t want any shock to the lawn when it cannot repair itself over Winter.
Once Spring arrives and the coldest mornings are finished and the weather is starting to warm, we can then begin the lawn thatch repair by reducing lawn mowing heights. We can do this safely and slowly over several lawn mowing sessions, reducing the cutting height a couple of notches at a time on the lawn mower. So for the first one or two lawn mowings we may reduce the cutting height by two notches. If the lawn stays green and healthy and in no shock, then we can reduce the lawn mowing height again for the next two lawn mowings.
We keep doing this over time until that thatch is reduced to an acceptable level. And as the months of Spring pass, so too does the weather warm up and lawn growth rates increase, so any reduction of mowing heights becomes more easily repaired by the lawn itself.
There’s no need to go too low in removing thatch as it is a necessary and normal component of Saint Augustine and all other lawn types too. After we’ve reached the ideal thatch removal, we can then increase to normal lawn mowing heights again for the Summer.
One Final Tip
One last tip is to find out what we were doing that caused the turf to grow so fast last season and to adjust our lawn care practices accordingly. If we were fertilizing, then we can reduce the amount of fertilizer we use this year and from now on. If the cause of excessive lawn growth was over-watering, then we should adjust our watering programs to reduce the amount of water being applied to the sod. Finding the right balance with lawn growth for a healthy lawn, and then matching lawn mowing frequency to that turf growth rate is of much importance in keeping our lawns in the best possible condition, with least amount of maintenance work, and with the least amount of problems.