Slow Mow Summer

The balanced way: Slow Mow Summer

Slow Mow Summer is a great way for communities to explore new lawn care habits that can last for the rest of the year. Consider adopting one or more of these strategies this summer.

  • Mow higher: Maintain a mowing height of 3-4 inches to retain soil moisture, sediment and nutrients, crowd out weeds, and buffer drought all summer. This is referred to as the “Slow Mow Summer” approach and can greatly reduce the need for inputs like watering and fertilizing as moisture and nutrients are better sustained on-site. Be sure to check City or Township ordinances to be aware of the maximum standing turf height allowed in your community.

  • Go bee lawn: Consider an intentional bee lawn/pollinator lawn with low-growing flowering plants. Unlike a conventional lawn that’s suddenly set free to grow, a bee lawn focuses on certain desirable species that stay relatively low to the ground. For example, Creeping Charlie and dandelion are not included in bee lawn seed mixes. Bee lawns can be established passively over time or through an intentional conversion effort, or more actively and quickly with physical removal of the existing turf. Dandelions in a bee lawn can be either preserved, moderately controlled, or manually removed depending on aesthetic preference. Check out this bee lawn guide for more info.

  • Go intentional lo-mow: If the pollinator focus isn’t your thing, an intentional lo-mow or no-mow lawn can still provide valuable soil health benefits and change up the yard care routine. The difference between lo-mow and no-mow is essentially how they’re treated – mowing 1-2 times per year or allowing it to grow and fold over. Common lo-mow turf varieties include fine, tall, and other types of fescues depending on the sun/shade, moisture, and foot traffic conditions. Unlike conventional turf, intentional no-mow and low-mow lawns fold and lean over when the grass gets long, providing great groundcover and lower maintenance with the ability to accommodate for municipal lawn ordinances. Check out this guide to low-mow turf for more info.

  • Explore the world of groundcovers: Check out sedge or other types of groundcovers as a yard alternative, or find an example of a sedge groundcover here. Alternative groundcovers can also work well as a portion of a yard blended with a conventional turf, and maintain a manicured appearance. 

  • Take a trial run: Test out a new slow-to-mow routine and observe how it goes. Try mowing just a few times and when you do, mow at 3-4 inches to preserve some flowering weeds and make it easier for them to recover. This will help your lawn have an easy transition to a more regular mowing routine. Many low flowering plants will adapt to the routine by flowering lower to the ground. Keep the effort going until October to fine-tune your strategy, “train” the lawn, and help your yard be an asset soil, water, and pollinators!

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