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Lawn experts...help wanted!


therod
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I'm looking for advice and/or ideas here. And maybe there really isn't one. Here's what I have...

My yard is a little over 2 acres. I bought 3 acres, but there is some woods behind the house, so I'm mowing somewhere in the area of 2-2.25 acres. I live in west-central Indiana, in the heart of farm country. We bought the property, which at the time, was farm ground, over 12 years ago. My father-in-law, who also farms, came over and tilled it for me. I planted some Kentucky bluegrass, mostly because I could get really big bags of that seed on sale at Rural King. I'm mowing with a 54" John Deere zero-turn mower. Most of the summer, I've been mowing it a little longer than normal because it's been so wet, and I haven't had as much time available, so I haven't been able to mow it as often. Kids sports are winding down, and my time available will be picking back up, albeit not for a very long time as far as the yard goes. Anyway, when I mowed it this week (Wed), I had more piles of clippings in the yard than I'm used to. And I really don't like that look. I went back out this morning, gassed the mower back up, raised the deck up to the highest level, and went over the yard again. Because I had piles of clippings everywhere. And going over the yard again didn't really solve the problem very well. Yes it spread the clippings out a little more and a little more thinly. But there are still piles and clumps of clippings all over the yard. I'd rather not put a bag on the mower because I know it will have to be emptied multiple times every time I mow. Other than that, and other than mowing it more often or mowing it taller, do I have any other options for avoiding the piles of clippings all over the yard?

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I'm no lawn expert but here is what I do know. First, make sure you have a mulching blade on the mower. This will make a huge difference in how fine the clippings will be and the smaller they are the easier it will be for them to find the ground beneath the grass. Second is never mow more than 1/3 of the grass height. For example if your grass is 4" long don't cut it below 3". This will help with the not only with clipping size but won't stress the grass as much. Never mow when it is wet. This is the only time I ever get clumps of grass when mulching. 

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Short answer is without more work...no.

You answered your own question when you said mow it higher and/or more often.  The key is to cut less off each time.  Like Wedgie said I also recommend a mulching kit, it kicks the clippings back up into the deck so it gets cut a couple times and will have smaller pieces of grass.

One other thing is you could get is a pull behind leaf sweeper.  Most likely won't get all the clippings, and you'll have to empty it, but will get a fair amount and will help spread clippings too.

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Check out lawn care juggernaut on YouTube the guy cuts city violations with grass height. He cuts it once then at a minimum he cuts it again at the same height. There are some interesting things he does which may give you an idea

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2 hours ago, hckymeyer said:

Short answer is without more work...no.

You answered your own question when you said mow it higher and/or more often.  The key is to cut less off each time.  Like Wedgie said I also recommend a mulching kit, it kicks the clippings back up into the deck so it gets cut a couple times and will have smaller pieces of grass.

One other thing is you could get is a pull behind leaf sweeper.  Most likely won't get all the clippings, and you'll have to empty it, but will get a fair amount and will help spread clippings too.

Bingo. Mow high and more often. You should only be mowing off 1/3 of the grass height each time you mow. 

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One thing I found with the mulching kit on my rider was when I used it, that was when I'd get the clumping issues. I took the block off plate off, put the chute back on and I don't have the problem any more.

And, as the others have already said, cut higher and more often, which sucks because there's only X amount of time in a week.

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18 hours ago, hckymeyer said:

One other thing is you could get is a pull behind leaf sweeper.

This... and more specifically, this.

Products > 52" Lawn Sweeper (agri-fab.com)

I mow a little over an acre at my place.  During the peak of the growing season, that's about every 5 days to keep it from getting excessively long/thick.  I don't use mulching blades as they really don't chop fine enough and, doing so repeatedly, simply builds too much top layer that does not break down fast enough.  The grass sweeper slows the job down but takes care of the mounds of clippings.  I joke with the rancher we sub-lease too to grow alfalfa that there are about two months of the year I could literally roll grass bales. Definitely get the 52" for your size yard.

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Oh man, something I can actually give advice on and others hear have already beat me to it. I ran a lawn business in Florida for 15 years. 

 

Try to avoid cutting your lawn when it wet, as other have said this will lead to clumping and a few other bad side effects. If you have to mow when it's wet, spray underneath your mower and blades with Pam cooking spray. This should help keep things from sticking and clumping under you mower. 

 

Make sure your blades are nice and sharp, especially if you use a self mulching setup. These cut what is spinning around under your deck numerous times and will wear out faster than you realize. Cutting wet grass will wear them out even faster.

 

As others here have recommended, you should never cut off more then 1/3 of you grass at a time. I think Kentucky Blue Grass's optimal height is 2 1/2 inches. Check me on that though, Im not too familiar with that grass since I'm in Florida and everything here is St Augustine, Bahia or Zoysia.

 

Finally change up the pattern you mow in. Mowing your lawn the same way every time compacts the soil which can lead to three things, an unhealthy lawn, weeds and poor drainage. 

Hope all these tips help. If you couldn't tell, I love talking about lawn care. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

 

Edited by PapaStark
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It really depends on how compacted your soil is. If it's too dense then the seeds will have trouble germinating and taking root. The general rule of thumb is to aerate then overseed because it give you the best chance of gemination and it helps with weed control. 

 

The best defense against weeds in you yard is a having a healthy, thick lawn. Aerating it means you are poking holes in that defense so overseeding helps get something growing in those holes before weeds can get in there. 

 

If you want to aerate your yard but don't want to overseed, then I would recommend at least spreading some weed and feed. Just be care what mixture or blend of fertilizer you use, you don't want to burn you lawn after all that hard work. If you want to aerate, overseed and fertilize that's fine too but I would not use any products with weed killer while you are trying to grow from seeds. I have not had great experiences with that lol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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