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Mow High, Mow Often

Often, we’re asked about lawn mowing and its relation to maintaining a healthy, drought-tolerant lawn. Although we discourage expansive areas of grass, there are ways to reduce how much water your turf needs.

Of all the suggestions and recommendations you may hear, there are two key factors that will help make your lawn more drought-tolerant: mowing height and mowing frequency.

Although a variety of mowing heights are recommended for each turf species, our rule is always to mow at the high end of the range. In general, the higher the mowing height, the deeper the roots; and the deeper the root system, the more drought-tolerant the turf becomes.

The best adapted turf grass species for our area include:

  • Bermuda — Unless you’re mowing a putting green or sports field, we suggest mowing it at 2 inches.
  • Buffalo and all native grasses — Mowing twice a year is sufficient for native grasses; set the mower at the highest setting.
  • St. Augustine — Maintain the mower level at 3 inches.
  • Zoysia — A mowing height of 2 1/2 inches is ideal.

Just as important as how high you mow is how often. Turf responds favorably to frequent mowing. The general rule is to never cut more than 1/3 of the total blade. This roughly translates to a once-a-week mowing schedule.

If maintaining a lawn is your preference, help make it more drought-friendly. Mow high and mow often.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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