What Length Your Grass Should Be

Having to mow your lawn each week can get old fast. So much so that you may cut it short, hoping that you won’t need to withstand the harsh sun for another 10 days. However, are you caring for your grass properly? Do you know the differences between St. Augustine, Bermuda, or Bahia grassWe’re here to guide your lawn care in West Palm Beach. 

General Lawn Advice 

Before diving into individual grass speciesit’s important to note that what works for one may harm another. All grass isn’t the same, and certain species require a different level of care to look its best. However, some tips correlate across all. 

Firstly, cut it short so that it won’t grow as fast is entirely wrong, just like the myth of shaving. However, cutting off more than 1/3 of the length at a time can prove destructive. Grass doesn’t store energy in its roots. Instead, storing it in the stalk. So, cutting a 6-inch blade to 2 inches will effectively strip away 66% of its available energy.  

Sometimes referred to as scalping, this flies in the face of conventional wisdomYou would think that less energy leads to less growth, but it opens the door to weeds instead. By trimming it shorter than its tolerance, it makes your lawn less durable during the dry season. However, by no means will it slow down its growth. 

All grass strikes a balance between their root system development and their blade length. When the two are in symmetry (cutting it appropriately), the greenery will be full and healthy, able to weather any inclement condition. 

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Florida Grass Options 

The weather which we receive this far south is far from preferable for many plants. Grass can’t grow everywhere. Even the United States spans over too many ecosystems for grass to grow at will. While grass can grow in the middle of the desert, Minnesota grass and Florida grass are vastly different. 

It takes a special kind of hardiness to adapt to extreme cold and intense heat. Grass is incredibly diverse, and each strain requires varying degrees of care. While many warm-season types of grass grow in Florida, the following five styles are best suited for the humidity, constant sun, heavy rains, and the occasional hurricane.  

Bahia Grass 

If you have this type of luscious greenery, keeping it looking its best requires less work than other types. Valued for its drought and heat resistance, many homes in southern Florida take advantage of it. This grass initially came from South America. However, even improved variations are confined to the southern regions exclusively.  

Famed for its low maintenance, you may discover it lining the roadways if not found skirting homes. However, if you live in an area with an abundance of shade, this grass will suffer. In addition, nitrogen-rich soil will prove inhospitable. Letting your grass grow too long will allow it to spread, in which you would need to use special chemicals to prevent further spreading. 

Lastly, this grass has a preferred length range which you need to know. For the best-looking lawn possible, it’s best to keep the blades between 2.5 to 4 inches long. We recommend aiming for three inches as we find that to be optimal.  

St. Augustine Grasses 

There are a few common forms of St. Augustine grass, allowing it to spread throughout the states more than Bahia. However, you will only find this grass in the deep southThe range increases slightly the closer it reaches the seaboards. In California, you won’t find it much further north than Sacramento and just south of Greenville, NC. 

The following are some of the most common types of St. Augustine grass found stateside: 

  • Palmetto 
  • CitraBlue 
  • Raleigh 
  • Seville 
  • ProVista 

The strain of most concern for Floridians is CitraBlue, as it’s by and large the most common. What you may not know is that CitraBlue isn’t naturally occurring. Insteadit’s the product of extensive research conducted at the University of Florida’s Turfgrass Breeding Program in Citra, FL. The program sought to make a better St. Augustine grass, and they succeeded.  

As the name suggests, the grass is two-tone. While Citra pays homage to its birthplace, the Blue highlights its greenish-blue coloring. While it may seem unique, bluegrass is far from uncommon, as Kansas can attest.  

The first of its benefits is a lower nitrogen requirement, helping it achieve its relatively wide range. This also means it needs less fertilizer, saving you gardening time. Secondly, this grass is tolerant of shade. Feel free to load your lawn with palms or other trees, as shade won’t stunt its growth as it does with Bahia grass. 

Thirdly, you won’t have to mow it as often as you would other grasses. Since it can tolerate shade, the more shade there is, the less it’ll grow. Therefore, this also indirectly lowers the risk of infection, as it requires less mowing.  

For the best-looking St. Augustine lawn, keep your grass between 1-3 inches, no matter the variation. Feel free to mulch old clippings, and remember the 1/3 rule. Besides that, to keep it easy, try to keep your lawn at 2 inches to ensure it won’t overgrow. 

Bermuda Grass 

There are always pros and cons for the sodding you choose, but this style proves picky. The first and most noticeable difference is the increased traffic insensitivity. This is due to St. Augustine grass being highly susceptible to breakage. It just isn’t as pliable, causing the blades to suffer underfoot, opening them up to disease and infection. 

No shade, no problem. Even while subjected to intense heat day after day with an abysmal water supply, your lawn will look sharp. However, this grass doesn’t tolerate shade at all and needs excellent drainage to prosper. 

While shade and poor drainage may prevent its growth, salt does not. Whereas observed in other plants, high salt concentrations block nutrients such as phosphorous and potassium. However, Bermuda grass doesn’t suffer from higher salt concentrations, making it a prime choice for coastal property owners.  

Centipede 

Ranking as one of the most maintenance-free grasses you have in Florida, this is a favorite amongst southeast homeowners. Unlike other choices, low nutrient content in the soil doesn’t hinder its eagerness to grow.  

In addition, it can thrive in a mixed sunlight environment. While shady areas won’t prove harmful, the more sun, the better for this particular species. This will open up different options for you that would be absent otherwise.  

Originally from Asia, this grass first cropped up in the States in 1916. While not suited for cold weather climates, it is surprisingly resilient during harsh winters. This is one of the very few warm weather sods that can withstand snow in moderate climates perennially.  

Consider how much traffic your lawn will receive, as having children can upset your lawn. This is due to its incredibly shallow root system, how it spreads, and its doggedly slow recovery rates. If you plan on BBQing often, we advise you to steer clear of this grass and St. Augustine grass. 

Both the growth rate and recovery time are slower than in most other grasses. Because this spreads above ground, heavy foot traffic can displace and disrupt the stolonsThese are its above-ground stems, which creep across the lawn slowly, eventually filling it in with a lush covering.  

When it finally comes time to mow, it’ll be nearly three inches tall. Its preferred length ranges from 1-2.5 inches. Howeverwe’ve found that keeping it close to 2-2.5 inches keeps it as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  

Zoysia 

This may be the least finicky of the grass you’ll tread on in West Palm Beach. This grass is known for its high tolerability to high foot traffic, making it among the best grass choices for young homeowners. Other characteristics it has are: 

  • Shade tolerable 
  • Able to grow in warm and transitional zones 
  • Drought and heat resistance 
  • Thrives with lack of water 
  • Little maintenance needs 

Similar to centipede grass, this will need time to take root. If you’re planting seed, this grass will take a while but be well worth the wait. One reason behind this is the incredibly vast and deep root system they develop, and considering its denseness, no wonder why it holds up to repeated stepping.  

Lastly, its preferred growth is in line with Bermuda grass while being slightly more tolerable. Both can thrive standing at just a half-inch, but Zoysia is happy at three inches, whereas the other is not. In the end, split the difference between either extreme, and you’ll be fine. 

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Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Cut Wet Grass? 

No, and for many reasons. As grass saturates during rain, it tends to stick together. As it clumps, your mower blades will miss just as much as they slice. Coupled with the fact that the mower will drop chunks of sopping grass, retouching an area will do next to nothing. 

Furthermore, those very same chunks that disrupted your retouching can also block needed sunlight if not raked up. Grass, along with all herbivore feed, consume sunlight as their primary energy source through photosynthesis 

Is It Okay to Cut Grass Quickly? 

No matter how tight your schedule is, carve out sufficient time to do the job the right way. A rushed job will lead to an uneven-looking lawn and, more than likelystrewn about clippings that impeded sunlight penetration. The bottom line, if you do anythingyou should do it well.  

I Cut My Grass the Same Way Each Time. Why Doesn’t it Look Healthy? 

The answer is in the question. Vary the pattern each time you cut. By hitting the grass at the same angle from the same side will encourage the blades to grow in the direction you mow. Therefore, you’re training the grass to grow improperly, making your lawn less healthy than it should be. 

Picture grass as a 360-degree solar panel. If the panel is in the upright position, more is exposed to the sun, right? Therefore, by alternating east to west, then west to east, the grass is hit from either side, prompting it to grow vertically.  

It’s also worth noting to keep each lane tight to the next. Overlapping the prior pass will ensure an evenly cut lawn, as well as act as quality control. You will end up hitting each blade twice, ensuring the optimal height throughout.  

How Often Do I Need to Sharpen or Replace My Mower Blades? 

To start, never cut your lawn with dull blades. A dull cutting instrument rips and tears instead of slices. Ever trying wrapping a gift with blunt shears? Once a worn blade mauls a blade of grass, infection is more likely to occur and increased complications from pests.  

So, to keep your grass the greenest in the neighborhood, sharpen your blades once every 20-25 hours of use. At first, that may seem daunting, and yes, for large yards, it very well can be. However, if you cut your grass in one hour, you only need to sharpen your blades twice per year.  

Should I Bag or Mulch My Clippings?  

Although your elder relatives may scold you for doing so, bagging your clippings is the last thing you should do. Grass soaks up what nutrients are in the ground, and this includes nitrogen. By recycling the chopped grass, you can provide a “green” mulch that restores nitrogen levels by up to 30% of your lawn’s required amount. 

To limit the accumulation of thatch, professionals suggest blowing the clippings on the side you haven’t been to yet. This will allow you to cut it further down while not creating more work or adding hours of use to your blades.  

As you blow the grass ever nearer to your driveway, street, or sidewalk, be mindful. Grass can stain both concrete and asphalt. Not to mention, blowing grass into the street is rather unneighborly as it creates an eyesore.  

What Our Recent Customers are Saying 

“O’Hara has always been easy to do business with they arrive on time are always professional and courteous. I hired them when my lawn was almost completely dead from a mold. I was ready to resod…..they suggested I allow them to treat the lawn for 6 weeks and make a decision then….They saved my lawn and saved me thousands of dollars in the process!” 

–  Stewy D. 

“O’Hara is not only a professional lawn assisting service, but extremely passionate and knowledgeable about what it takes for a great lawn all year around. They were prompted and overall the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege of doing business with.” 

 – Luis M. 

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Looking for Professional Lawn Care in West Palm Beach? 

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner who needs lawn care advice or you’re interested in lawn services, our staff is ready to assist. We understand the necessity of keeping grass short doesn’t end with curb appeal. Contact us today for a greener lawn that’ll be the envy of your neighbors 

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