Next Steps After No Mow April!
Before you decide to mow your lawn at the end of the month, we’d like to make a suggestion. Grab your lawn chair and a cool drink. Plant yourself in your front yard and take some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the habitat you created. Evaluate what your lawn means to you. Do you really need all that turf? Could you reduce the size of your lawn? Perhaps you could you add more garden beds filled with native perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees. By transforming all or a portion of your turf into a pollinator garden, with a wide variety of species that bloom from early spring to late fall, you can help support pollinators all year long. We aren’t suggesting you remove your entire lawn all at once. Perhaps a phased transition from lawn to garden space. It’s something to think about!
If you aren’t quite ready to make a big change and you want to get your yard back to “normal” please read on for an approach to mowing your long turf.
Choose the right time to mow:
Cutting very long grass is best performed when you have the weather on your side. You’ll most likely need to mow several times over the course of a month to get it back to a “normal” height. Optimal weather conditions include days that are sunny and warm. By cutting your grass when it is dry, you reduce the chance of bacteria and diseases setting in. It’s recommended to cut no more than 1/3 of the grass height when making the first cut. Taking off too much too quickly can cause your grass to suffer from shock. This can cause your lawn to die off due to the sudden reduction of available nutrients.
Making the first cut:
Remember, long grass may prevent you from seeing the ground clearly, so walk your lawn before you begin using your string trimmer to look for obstacles or animals that may be taking refuge. If parts of your lawn are really long, over 12”, then you can make the first cut with a line trimmer. A line trimmer allows you to reduce the height of the grass quickly and easily by 1/3.
Once you have removed 1/3 of the length of the turf, allow it to recover and repair itself for a few days. Clear grass clippings from the yard. Clumps of grass can shade out the freshly cut grass and prevent it from growing properly.
After 5 to 7 days, if your grass is still over 6 inches tall, repeat the cutting process using the string trimmer. Remember to only remove 1/3 of the length of the blade. On the second cut, you should be able to safely reduce the height of the grass to 6 inches or less. Again, allow your lawn a few days to recuperate before moving on to the next step.
Time to use a lawn mower:
10 to 14 days after making the first cut into your long grass, your lawn will probably be ready to be finished with a lawn mower. Before you use the lawn mower, make sure your grass is standing upright, with no bent blades, before you mow. Adjust the mower height so that it reduces the height of the grass by no more than 1/3. Make sure to bag your clippings or rake them so you’re not smothering the grass with the mulched clippings.
If your grass still isn’t short enough for your taste, wait a another 5 to 7 days and mow it again, never taking off more than 1/3 of the blade. But, before you do, keep in mind, when the lawn is mowed high, there are plenty of leaf surfaces available to keep the plant healthy. This allows the grass to build up its food reserves and grow better roots, which means that the lawn will be greener and healthier.
What should you do with your sign?
The City of Webster Groves plans to celebrate "No Mow April" again next year so you can save your sign and re-use it next April.
OR, if you don't have the space for the sign, you can return it to the City of Webster Groves at City Hall (side entrance by parking lot). If you do return your sign, you will have to request another one next year.
Thank you for participating in No Mow April!