Cooperative Extension
MG Manual Home


Previous Previous

  MG Manual Reference
Ch. 12, pp. 26 - 28

[Maintenance: irrigation | new lawn | fertilization | renovating | mowing | mowing heights
| dethatching | aeration | weed ]


A lawn of less than satisfactory appearance, but fair condition, may be renovated without having to be completely rebuilt. Advantages of renovation include less expense and mess, since minimum tilling of the soil is required. The lawn will be able to take light traffic during the renovation period. Some conditions reduce the chances of successful renovation. If a lawn is extremely compacted, has an extreme pH condition, very low soil phosphorus availability, an unacceptable irrigation system, minimal turf at the expense of weeds, or the grade is very uneven, complete re-establishment by killing the existing grass with glyphosate, (RoundUp) may be required.
Determine Cause of Poor Quality

Lawns usually require renovation because of one or more of the following reasons; poor sprinkler uniformity, poor fertilization practices, inadequate drainage, excessive traffic, poor selection of grass variety, weed invasion, compaction, drought, insect or disease damage, or excessive shade. Have the soil tested to determine fertilizer needs. The soil should be tested at least a month before the lawn renovation is started.
Control weeds and undesirable grasses if possible, prior to the soil preparation process. Glyphosate, (RoundUp) applied in accordance with label directions, will control most perennial and existing annual weeds. Begin treatment with glyphosate on unstressed weeds 30 to 45 days prior to renovation to provide the opportunity for retreatment if regrowth occurs. Perennial broadleaf weeds can be controlled either prior to renovation or after the new seed has been mowed two times. If controlling broadleaf weeds prior to renovation, apply the broadleaf weed control at least 30 days prior to seeding.
With the ground prepared you are ready to reseed, sod, plug or sprig as described above. If there is a fair stand of grass remaining, over seeding with the same species of grass as is established, can be done by shallow verticutting and then distributing the new grass seed.


Mowing in one of the most important factors in maintaining a good lawn. A good mower, regular maintenance checks and good mowing techniques all help to ensure a smooth, well groomed appearance for your lawn. Never mow lower than the accepted base height of the selected grass. A lawn's density, vigor, water consumption, weediness and resistance to weather stress are affected by how you mow. Never remove more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blades at one mowing. If more needs to be removed do it gradually over the next couple of mowings.
The effectiveness of all other lawn maintenance, i.e. watering, fertilizing, and weed control depends on proper mowing because improper mowing causes more lawn problems than any other practice. The old "adage" of "mowing low once a week" to minimize mowing chores is the worst possible single thing you can do to a lawn. This weakens the lawn and thins it out. The second most common mowing mistake is selecting a mowing height which is lower than the particular grass can withstand. This is a no-win situation, even if the grass gets mowed seven days a week. The tips on mower selection, maintenance, safety, and storage that follow will help you get the best performance from your mower for a beautiful, healthy lawn.
Mowing height and frequency go hand in hand. The closer you mow, the more often you must mow. This is necessary to avoid excessive leaf removal, which puts the plant in a stress-recovery situation. Again, never remove more than 1/3 the height of the grass at one mowing. Turfgrass clippings contribute very little to the development of thatch when proper mowing procedures are practiced. Excess clippings left on the lawn will weaken the lawn and perhaps contribute to thatch. But if you mow at the proper frequency and mowing height, clippings left on the turf do not cause thatch build-up. Clippings should be collected and removed when: (1) the clippings are excessive, (2) lawn is diseased, and (3) if weeds are setting seed. Mulching mowers may increase decomposition of the clippings, since they produce smaller size clippings which allows for faster decomposition.
Mowing equipment and selection is critical to proper turf maintenance. The general rules are as follows:
  • Use reel-type mowers for heights of 1-1/4 inches or less.
  • Use rotary mowers for heights of 1-1/2 inches and higher.

Reel-type mowers are constructed for close clippings, while rotary mowers are not. Failure to use the right mowers often results in scalping, poor mowing and damage to the turf. Always keep the blades sharp and adjusted properly.

Next Next
Search Index Comment

This site was developed for the Arizona Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona.
© 1998 The University of Arizona. All contents copyrighted. All rights reserved.