A mowing scar on a lawn seem to be one of the least understood aspects of lawn care. I am often asked “why does my lawn look brown after I mow it”?
In this post I try to explain what causes a mowing scar, how to prevent it and how to repair it.
What is a mowing scar?
How you mow your lawn is the most important factor affecting the look of your lawn. You can use the best lawn care products money can buy. Bad mowing practices will ruin it.
A mowing scar is the ripping of the grass or cutting down too much of the plant, leaving stalk. This leaves the lawn looking brown an untidy. It can also cause brown stipes and patches which take months to recover.
What causes scaring?
A mowing scar can appear under several conditions.
- Mowing when wet. Mowing your lawn when wet can cause a lot of problems. Wet grass sticks to your mower blades, reducing their cutting ability. It causes ripping and yanking, pulling grass plants out without cutting them. All these factors damage the lawn and can cause mowing scars.
- Mowing long grass. Long grass should not be mown short in one go. A long lawn carries the green leaves at the top of the plants. Mowing these off in one pass will leave your lawn straw-like and bare. The grass takes a long time to recover from this as it needs to grow new leaves from the base of the plants.
- Blunt lawn mower blades. A mower with blunt blades will not cut the grass well. Tearing of the grass leaves will cause visible damage to the lawn and a mowing scar can result.
- Mowing too short. One of the main causes of mowing scars is mowing too short. You do not have bowling green grass, which is grown to be mown only a few millimetres high. Treating domestic lawn in this way will only stress your grass plants. Mowing too short cuts off the food-producing leaves and reduces nutrient reserves. Your grass will weaken and look straw-like and bare. Raise your cut height to at least 1.5 inches and you will have a much greener, healthier lawn.
- Lumps and bumps in the lawn. Very few lawns are flat. A hump or hollow on the surface of your lawn can cause your mower to scalp a patch of your grass. This can cause a mowing scar. To avoid this you can operate on your lawn to reduce the hump. You can also raise the blade over that area to reduce the scalping affect.
How do you fix a mowing scar?
The first thing to do to fix a scar is to make sure you know the reason for it and to prevent it from happening again. The grass needs to recover and it will not do so if the same mistakes keep happening every week. It you are mowing too short, raise your blades. If it was blunt blades, get them sharpened. If it was wet, wait until the lawn has dried.
The lawn should recover from a mowing scar without any help. It only needs time to grow new leaves from the base. This may take quite a few weeks and the lawn may need several months before the scar has gone completely.
Another way to fix it is to sprinkle some appropriate grass seed over the area and a light covering of topsoil. Sowing new seed may be a faster fix, especially if the scar has caused root damage to the grass.