New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Cool season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue & Rye
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Buckmaster
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New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Buckmaster » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:57 pm

This is the year I took over my lawn. I kindly asked my landscaper to step away so I could take over. I read and researched and this fall I was ready to prep for a good spring. I scalped, thatched and did some leveling on my front lawn and planted a PRG KBG blend. I did not do a full Reno with glyphosate I just heavily over seeded for half the lawn and the other half was bare dirt from leveling so that area has all new PRG. A full Reno may be in the cards for next fall but I’m not there yet ,I’m still level 2.
Anyway, when I first scalped it looked terrible but I maintained that height with a fiskars mower while the new grass grew in and it’s greened up and filled in well. I also found myself here learning and watching Connor Wards you tube channel, (love it btw) and now I got in my head to go low.

With that said, I want to maintain that low height throughout the year. I found a greensmower and have been cutting at 1” and enjoying the progress though I still have weeds and some fescue to deal with it.
My question is, what am I in for trying to keep it alive and healthy at such a low HOC, especially throughout the summer months? I’ve got plenty of time, money and motivation to establish and maintain so no problem there. Everything I read says it’s impossible without tons of chemicals and water because the roots are shallow, leaves can’t photosynthesize as so on. So what’s the real deal with long term maintenance on low cut turf? Is there anything else beside the cool season turf guide I should read up on for low HOC or is it as simple as maintaining soil chemistry and feeding correctly while watching for fungus and stress?
Last edited by Buckmaster on Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Babameca
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Babameca » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:59 pm

@Buckmaster I am in the same boat. But here are the things I may consider myself:
- Mowing frequency. It will go up. Even with PGR I will have to mow more often than the average Joe
- Watering. Low HOC keeps less humidity. Will adjust watering in hot weather accordingly.
- Weeds. weed pressure may increase, but the worst enemies will be different. Poa A and Poa T. Poa A can produce seed heads at even 1/2 inch...or at any HOC.
- Fungus pressure. I don't know about this one, but it looks like low HOC brings more fungus problems
- Fertilizers. Keeping the low HOC (or honestly any HOC) will require knowing your soil and give it what is needed, when is needed. Bigbox store ferts may do...or not. I am planning to step up and get golf courses applied products.
- Equipment. Greens mower needs more love and frequent checks to perform as expected.
- Levelling. If not necessary at 1st site, if you want to go for this greens (tees) look, levelling with sand (I would go with 1/4 inch multiple times until I am satisfied) will be needed.

Here it is IMO.
B

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Harts
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Harts » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:35 am

Buckmaster wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:57 pm
Everything I read says it’s impossible without tons of chemicals and water because the roots are shallow, leaves can’t photosynthesize as so on.
Where are you reading this? This is simply not true. My roots are 6-8" in my backyard which was kept anywhere between 0.675 to 0.875 this summer. Does it require more attention on your part? Yes. But you don't need endless chemicals to keep your lawn looking good under 1".

PGR, regular feeding and irrigation with help keep everything looking great. Add in some iron for colour. Basically everything you would do to grass kept 2-4". Just more attention to make sure problems don't get out of control.

A strong pre-em game will keep weeds out. Low cut grass does not = more weed pressure. I'm fact mowing reel low along with Pgr will increase the density of your lawn.

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FuzzeWuzze
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by FuzzeWuzze » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:08 am

As far as i can tell most grasses that have been trained to grow low tend to grow sideways more than upward for obvious reasons so they dont necessarily have a lot less leaf mass to photosynthesis, they just spread out not up.

Buckmaster
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Buckmaster » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:47 pm

@Harts

Image

Image

Your response is what I want to hear but when I research and read these are the kinds of “facts” I get. Not saying they are right or wrong, just making sure I’m not going completely off the deep end attempting this.
Last edited by Buckmaster on Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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g-man
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by g-man » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:24 pm

When you compare a prairie grass at 12-18in high vs a 4in, you will see root depth differences. My 1in hoc northern mix has 8in long roots in my crappy soil.

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Harts
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Harts » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:50 am

I'd like to read the science. I'm not saying the average home owner can maintain HOC under 1". There is effort and attention to detail involved.

Buckmaster
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Buckmaster » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:00 am

To be clear, there was nothing I read here suggesting it can’t be done, it’s outside sources and articles contradicting what I read here such as that root depth to HOC photo.
G-man good point, the photos do not actually say at which heights they represent. You can see why I misled by them and many other articles I find on the web.
Hart- can you suggest any readings so that I might get a better understanding of things at level of how and why?
Last edited by Buckmaster on Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

NJ-lawn
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by NJ-lawn » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:47 pm

How about a real life experiment.....dig a small plug and measure it. My Kbg lawn is only 6 weeks old. I been mowing at 1”, mowing low is something I plan on doing but since my grass is so young, my roots are very shallow.

My thoughts are if you mow high, the plant puts all its energy into growing its roots deeper. Would mowing low put more energy into shoot growth at the expense of the roots? I don’t have any science to back it up but just a thought.

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Babameca
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Re: New to mowing low....what am I in for?

Post by Babameca » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:08 pm

@Buckmaster @NJ-lawn There are many videos on YT and material from here that defer from the 'basics' of taller grass=deeper roots. I am not a (turf) scientist, but any plant develops roots in order to survive/feed.
Irrigation habits IMO come first in place. Second will be available nutrients to build the roots, if the 1st condition favours it. Third would be soil compaction. Bigger plant will need deeper/bigger root system, but bigger does not mean taller (as mentioned already) and it will only happen if the first 3 conditions are favorable.
My 2 cents,
B

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