654 Yorktown Rd, Poquoson, VA 23662
KAB Grounds Maintenance Inc
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Do It Yourself Lawn in Poquoson, VA

DIY The Right Way
For the the DIY in all of us. Use this information to help you get the job done right. From proper pruning techniques and mowing heights to calibrating your spreaders and sprayers to choosing the best contractor for you.

If you find the task a little more daunting than expected, remember to call KAB Grounds Maintenance for expert and professional service.
Laying sod  - Services in Yorktown Rd, Poquoson, VA
Mowing Turfgrasses
Mowing is the most basic of all turfgrass cultural practices, and its importance to quality turf care should not be underestimated. It is obvious that mowing can give turf a neat, uniform appearance, but other benefits may not be as noticeable. Those benefits include; strong root systems, healthy plants and a reduction of weeds.

Mowing Height

To properly mow a lawn, cut the grass at the appropriate height for the species, use a sharp blade and mow at a suitable frequency. Remember the 1/3 rule: never cut off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blades at one time.

Most turfgrass species perform best when cut within a specific range of heights (see the chart for turf species and their appropriate mowing height). Cutting shorter than the recommended range results in a thin lawn that is susceptible to heat and drought stress and weed invasion. Cutting higher than the recommended range results in a lawn that is puffy, limp or even flattened because the grass lies down due to excessive length.

Root depth is proportional to cutting height, so turf that is mowed too low has a shallow root system. Such a lawn wilts quickly under dry conditions. Also, the crown (the perennial growing point of a grass plant) is not shaded from the sun and may die. More sunlight also reaches the soil surface, allowing more weed seeds to germinate. Weeds quickly establish, and the turfgrass may not be aggressive enough to compete with the weeds for growing space.

Cool Season Grass

  • Bentgrass
  • Bluegrass
  • Fescues
  • Ryegrass
Mowing Height

1/2 to 1-1/2 inches
2 to 3 inches
3 to 3 ½ inches
2 to 3 inches
Warm Season Grass

  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Centipede & Zoysia
  • St. Augustine
Mowing Height

2 to 3 inches
½ to 2 inches
1 to 2 inches
3 to 3 ½ inches
Blade Sharpness

Using a sharp blade is critical to mowing. A dull blade leaves grass blades with a ragged edge rather than a clean, even cut. This gives the lawn a brownish or grayish cast and you will be disappointed with the results.
A dull mower blade also results in the "20% rule:"
1. Fuel consumption is increased by 20% because the mower engine has to work harder to cut grass.
2. Water use by turfgrass is increased by 20% because the ragged grass blade edge exposes more surface area, causing greater water loss. The turfgrass compensates for this by using more water, which can be a critical factor in areas with irrigation restrictions.
3. Disease severity can be increased by 20% because the ragged edge produces a larger infection site. This can lead to higher turf maintenance costs due to the increased need for fungicide applications.
How often should mower blades be sharpened? There isn't a specific guideline in terms of hours of mower operation or acres mowed that have to accumulate before a blade is sharpened. Most professional crews sharpen their blades at the end of every work day.

When sharpening blades with a file or grinder, sharpen the cutting edges as close to the original level as possible. Remove the same amount from each blade end to maintain an even balance.

When installing blades, make sure the air lift bends (the edge opposite the cutting edge) are pointing toward the top of the mowing deck. Be careful of the cutting edges and always wear gloves during blade maintenance activities.
Mowing Frequency and Clippings
Mowing Frequency

Ideally, a lawn should be mowed when it has reached a certain height and not simply on a specified day of the week. For most turf areas, the general rule has been to remove no more than one-third of the vertical shoot growth per mowing. Removing more growth than this at one time can cause a physiological imbalance in the grass plant and lead to slower growth and increased susceptibility to environmental stresses.

Several factors influence turfgrass growth rate, such as temperature, moisture, fertilization, turf species and cultivar. You must adjust your mowing schedule to accommodate the one-third rule. This rule is a general guideline and one that is difficult to maintain during periods of rapid turf growth or when interrupted by rain. The end result is simply to do the best that you can to maintain an appropriate mowing frequency.

A common problem faced by professional lawn care technicians who apply fertilizer and pest control treatments has been that clients cut their lawns very short so they won't have to mow as frequently. Don't be this person! This does not follow the one-third rule, and the appearance of these lawns suffers despite professional applications. Actually, the shorter a lawn is cut, the more frequently it must be mowed.

As an example, a lawn that is to be cut at a height of 1 inch should only be allowed to grow to a height of 1-1/2 inches if the one-third rule is followed. In other words, the lawn can only grow 1/2 inch (1/2 inch is one-third of 1-1/2 inches) in height before it must be mowed. On the other hand, a lawn that is to be cut at a height of 3 inches can grow to 4 inches before it has to be mowed. This is an increase of 1 inch, and a lawn obviously takes longer to grow 1 inch than it does to grow a 1/2 inch. The bottom line is that when following the one-third rule, a lawn needs to be cut less frequently when it is mowed at the highest recommended height.


In most cases, professional mowing crews do not bag grass clippings. Many people have the misconception that clippings contribute to thatch accumulation. Grass blades, however, have a high water and nitrogen content and decompose readily. As a result, they do not add to thatch.

Leaving the clippings on the turf is an excellent way of returning valuable nutrients. As much as 20% of applied nutrients are removed if clippings are always collected. So not only are bagged grass clippings a waste of valuable landfill space, they are also a waste of time and money when lawns are receiving supplemental fertilizer applications. If turf is mowed at the correct height and proper frequency, the clippings will be small and hardly noticeable. If the turf is very wet, clumps of clippings may form. If clippings are excessive, cross cutting a second time in the opposite direction will disperse clumps.
Mowing Procedures
Mowing Procedures

Professional crews use commercial mowers of various sizes, from 21-inch push types to 48-inch walk-behinds, and up to 61-inch riding mowers. All of the mowers are the rotary-type that cut grass with a horizontally spinning blade. Do not operate any mower until you have been given complete instructions or have read the owner's manual in its entirety. Wear the appropriate safety equipment. Keep the following points in mind when mowing:
1. Be careful when changing the cutting height for your mower. If using 2 mowers such as a push mower and a riding mower, each mower must be set at the same cutting height to give the lawn a uniform appearance.
2. Use extreme caution when mowing on steep slopes. Mow across slopes, maintaining a minimum ground speed.
3. The mower was designed to trim close on the left side of the mowing deck and discharge clippings evenly on the right side.
4. Begin cutting an area by making a few passes around the border of the lawn in a clockwise motion. Make enough passes to allow sufficient room for the mower to turn around.
5. Complete the lawn by mowing in a back-and-forth direction along the longest axis to reduce the number of turns.
6. Change the direction of the back-and-forth pattern every second or third time the lawn is mowed to lessen the development of tire ruts. Also, if a lawn is mowed in the same direction every time, the grass blades lay down in the direction the mower moves.
7. When cutting rough or heavy grass, the mower does a much better job of cutting and discharging the grass clippings with a slow forward ground speed and high blade speed.
Mowing Precautions

Accident prevention is a personal responsibility. Read and practice the following guidelines so that you can safely operate power equipment.

A. General Safety Information
1. Wear long pants, boots, safety glasses or goggles and hearing protection.
2. Keep the work area clear of bystanders, children and pets.
3. Never refuel while the engine is running or hot.
4. Wipe any spilled fuel off the unit.
5. Never operate the unit without the proper shields and other protective devices in place.
6. The engine should be stopped before leaving the unit unattended.
B. Walk-Behind Mower
1. Do not put hands and feet under the mower while the engine is running.
2. Never mow by pulling the mower backward toward you on slopes or wet grass; you may slip.
3. Thoroughly inspect the area where the mower will be used and remove all stones, sticks, wires and other foreign objects that would otherwise become deadly projectiles.
A sometimes neglected aspect of equipment use concerns the safety of landscape plants that can be damaged by mowers. Especially when trees are not surrounded by a mulch ring, their bark is vulnerable to mower injury (bumps, slices or tears) that leads to wood decay and a tree's eventual decline. Avoid damaging the bark of your trees and large shrubs. We recommend the use of a mulch ring wherever necessary.
String Trimmers
String trimmers' cut grass with a spinning piece of nylon string. Do not operate a string trimmer until you have been given complete instructions or have the owner's manual in its entirety. Wear the appropriate safety equipment.

Keep the following points in mind:
1. Keep fingers and feet away from the cutting line when the engine is running.
2. No one except the operator should be allowed within a 33-foot radius of the unit while the engine is running.
3. When starting the engine, lay the unit down in a clear area so the line cannot contact the ground or any other obstruction.
4. Do not operate the unit one-handed.
String trimmers, like mowers, can cause extensive damage to the bark of trees and shrubs. If you've ever seen the base of a wooden fence post where grass has been repeatedly cut with a string trimmer then you'll realize how injurious these tools can be to live bark. A mulch ring provides a buffer zone to avoid damage by string trimmers, as well as mowers.
Edgers cut grass with a vertically rotating blade. They are most useful for removing grass that has grown over the edge of a concrete sidewalk or driveway. Do not operate the edger until you have been given complete instructions or have the owner's manual in its entirety. Wear the appropriate safety equipment.

Keep the following points in mind:
1. Adjust the blade's cutting depth to 1/2 inch to 1 inch below the soil surface.
2. Always push the edger at a moderate walking speed. At this speed, the edger is designed to cut about 100 feet per minute.
3. When cutting along curved sections slightly lift the rear wheels and guide the edger.
After mowing and edging, your job is not finished until the area has been satisfactorily cleaned up. Pay particular attention to:
1. Clippings on your driveways and walkways. These are high visibility areas that you should clean properly.
2. Large clumps of clippings in the lawn. These result from mowing grass that is too tall and/or too wet.
3. Debris from the string trimmer or edger. Again, this is usually along a high visibility area and should be cleaned properly.
In addition, be aware of the following precautions:
1. Keep hands and feet away from the blade when the engine is running.
2. Disengage the blade before starting and stopping the engine.
Cleanup is an important part of lawn maintenance. You can set lawn apart from your neighbors by a complete and thorough cleanup. It is your responsibility and obligation to remove your clippings from sidewalks and to keep them from entering sewer drains if applicable.
Cleanup may simply require a rake or broom, but many times a blower is necessary. Blowers are especially useful for brushing grass clippings from high driveways and patios. Do not operate a blower until you have been given complete instructions or have the owner's manual in its entirety. Wear the appropriate safety equipment.

Keep the following points in mind:
1. Blowers develop air speeds of over 100 mph. Keep this in mind when determining what direction objects are to be blown.
2. Use the lowest speed necessary to complete the job.
In addition, be aware of the following precautions:
1. Keep hands out of the fan housing when the machine is running.
2. Keep the air vent free of debris.
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