Beautiful lawns look great, cool our environment, and create useable space to walk and play. Keeping your lawn healthy and happy is the first step toward having a great-looking yard. In some places in the world, having a great lawn happens almost naturally with minimal effort. Unfortunately, having a great lawn here in central Texas is a little more complicated.
Lawns need food, water, and proper maintenance. It sounds simple enough until factor in all the variables that can impact your lawn...
- The type of grass planted in your lawn
- The microclimate the grass is growing in
- The condition of the soil
- The quality and frequency of lawn maintenance
- And much much more!
Fortunately, grass is forgiving. Small positive steps will go a long way towards the results you are looking for. Grass does not need a perfect growing environment, but it does need “good enough.”
Here at Top Choice Lawn Care, we help with all the basics: irrigation, fertilization, and lawn mowing. Irrigation covers the water needs of a lawn. Fertilization, combined with sunlight, allows the grass to produce food. Lawn mowing helps manicure and promote good growth in the lawn.
What does lawn mowing do for my grass?
Un-mowed grass is just… grass. Mowing transforms grass into a lawn.
Mowing does much more than just cut the grass short; it promotes the growth and creation of “turf.” Turf is thickly grown grass — so thick that it holds the soil in place, chokes out non-grass plant life, and can stand up to abuse and wear and tear.
When the grass is cut, it does two important things: it limits the plant's vertical growth, and it allows sunlight to reach the entire lawn evenly. Plants only grow when they have light, and tall grass will shade out and restrict growth closer to the soil. Cut short, the grass will fill in and form a dense turf.
Why is weekly mowing better?
Weekly lawn mowing helps reduce stress on your lawn. Every time your grass is cut it will suffer some form of stress. Physically cutting off a portion of the lawn is damaging the lawn. The damages are proportional to the amount of grass removed. When the lawn is mowed weekly, only a small portion of the lawn is removed, and stress is minimal. Every other week mowing cuts off a larger portion of the lawn and causes more stress. Mowing less often can cause even more stress.
Long mow intervals are only appropriate for non-turf grasses, like the wild grasses that grow in unlandscaped areas.
What sort of mower is best?
The best lawn mower is a mower with a sharp blade that mulches clippings.
A sharp mower blade reduces the amount of damage caused while mowing and can drastically reduce the stress on the lawn from mowing. At Top Choice, we sharpen our high-quality steel blades weekly. This ensures a clean cut all week long. You may not need to sharpen that often at home, but you should at least sharpen your mower blade every year. If you do not sharpen your mower blade, you are beating your lawn to death with a fast-moving club.
Mulching blades are practically magic. They take normal grass clippings, something considered a waste product, and turn them into fertilizer for your lawn. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen, but they can take time to break down. A sharp mulching blade shreds the grass clipping into ridiculously small particles that will quickly break down and add nutrients back to the lawn. Keep those nutrients in the lawn and mulch the grass clippings.
What is lawn edging?
Edging a lawn is simply trimming the horizontal grass growth at the edges of the lawn. This includes grass that grows along the edges of driveways or sidewalks where the edging is mostly to make the lawn look clean and sharp. It also includes edging around planting beds.
Edging around the planting beds will also help stop grass from growing into areas where you do not want grass. St. Augustine and Bermuda can spread quickly into bed spaces if the lawn is not edged. Both grasses spread by sending runners out over the top of the soil. A quick trim with an edger is often enough to keep the lawn and beds separate and clean.
Zoysia spreads under the ground and needs a good barrier to stop its spread, but the edging keeps the Zoysia looking sharp.
What if I’m mowing right and my lawn still looks bad?
Once you have the mowing down pat, if your lawn is still struggling you may need to address some other factors impacting the health of your lawn. Make sure your irrigation and fertilization are sufficient first. If you have a good, functional irrigation system, and you are fertilizing regularly consider:
- Top Dressing with compost – improve that soil!
- Changing out your lawn – add a sod type better suited to the environment/micro-climate
- Remove trees or obstacles blocking sunlight
If you want to get really nerdy about turf in Texas, we recommend visiting AggieTurf.
How much does lawn mowing in Austin cost?
Every yard is different, so we base our fees on the amount of mowing and edging required. In many cases, we can provide a fast estimate simply based on satellite imagery of your address. Here are a few examples of typical lawn care packages in Austin.
Neighborhood: Circle C
Approximate square footage of turf: 5k-7k
Approximate square footage of turf: 75-10k
Neighborhood: Barton Creek
Approximate square footage of turf: 10K+ ("muy muy grande")