Lawn scalping is the process of cutting your lawn grass so short that the stems of your grass blades are exposed. Tan and brown areas appear on a scalped lawn, uncovering the grass stem tissues.
Scalping is typically done on purpose by putting the mower to its lowest setting. But it is also possible to accidentally scalp parts of the lawn. Accidental scalping disables grass from photosynthesizing.
Thankfully, a scalped lawn can be repaired. Though it will take a while for the grass to return to its natural luster. For instance, adding chelated iron into your scalped lawn is an excellent solution.
However, the best solution is prevention. By avoiding scalping the turf in the first place, you ensure that your grass will never be deprived of the energy it requires to develop.
But what to do if you have mistakenly scalped your lawn? Read on to learn about the available solutions and further prevention processes!
Scalping Problems That You May Face
Many advise against scalping your lawn due to the negative effects it has on its health. One issue is that grass blades photosynthesize in order to feed the roots.
By removing the majority of this blade, you lower the amount of energy that the roots receive. Which results in your lawn becoming more vulnerable to stress, insects, and disease.
Another issue with scalping is that it promotes weed growth. Weeds can soon take over a scalped lawn. An unexpected spring frost can also destroy the exposed stems of scalped lawns.
3 Simple Steps To Fix A Scalped Lawn
Using Chelated Iron
Chelated iron promotes growth and greening. Because iron is a natural component of chlorophyll in the grass, it can be utilized to help repair a scalped lawn.
For every 1,000 square feet of lawn, 2 to 4 ounces of chelated iron are recommended. The best approach to prepare the chelated iron product is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the product packaging.
Spread the chelated iron around the grass as advised if you have it in powder form. Water the grass before the end of the day to allow the iron to absorb into the soil.
For every 1,000 square feet, combine 1 to 3 gallons of liquid chelated iron with 1 to 3 gallons of water and apply with a backpack or pump sprayer. Let the solution dry on the grass blades before watering the lawn again.
It is advised never to fertilize a scalped lawn with a nitrogen-containing fertilizer.
Reseeding Scalped Lawn Patches
You can speed up the recovery of the scalped spots by reseeding which depends on the species of grass that covers your lawn. Bermudagrass and other creeping grasses do not require reseeding. Ryegrasses and fescues are advised for reseeding.
The best time to reseed your scalped areas is in the spring when the ground temperature has reached at least 52 degrees Fahrenheit. It is advisable to use a basic fertilizer with nitrogen to phosphorus ratio of 1:1.
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This will aid in the development of the seeds. If the scalped areas have sustained significant damage and reseeding is ineffective then it is advised to re-sod instead.
Mowing in Cooler Weather
Mowing should be avoided during the hottest portion of the day, especially in the summer. When the temperature is high, scalping is especially likely to hurt your grass because the moisture within evaporates.
However, if you cut while the weather is cool, even if you scalp the grass a little, it should be able to recover.
How To Avoid Accidental Lawn Scalping
Fixing is not the full scale of the care you should be providing to your lawn. You should always try to stay a step ahead and take enough precautionary measures. This way you won’t need to introduce new chemicals into your lawn. Here are some steps you can take to prevent accidental scalping
Hydrate Your Scalped Lawn with Gentle Watering
You will need to evaluate the weather, specifically the quantity of rain you’re getting. If there hasn’t been any rain then you will need to water your plants a few times every week.
Remember that the best times to water are early in the morning or late in the evening when the humidity is high and the temperature is low.
Cut to the Appropriate Length
The most important thing you can do to minimize scalping is to determine the appropriate length for your lawn and cut it exactly to that length. The length of grass varies depending on the species.
However, cool-season grass blades should be 1 inch or longer in length, whereas warm-season grass blades should be 2.5 inches or longer. We recommend adjusting your mowing height accordingly.
Follow a Grass Cutting Height Chart
You will need to use a grass-cutting height chart to figure out when to mow your lawn. If you have St. Augustine grass, for example, set your mower blades to 1 to 2 inches and mow when the grass reaches 1 1/2 to 3 inches.
However, when the grass reaches a height of 2 1/4 to 3 3/4 inches, the ideal height for mower blades is 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches.
Although there is no such thing as a grass ruler, you can use any ruler you have at home to measure the height of your grass.
Place one end of the ruler directly on the ground and measure its height in inches by holding a blade straight up against the side of the ruler. Use this figure in context with the previously mentioned measures.
Having the ideal height for your grass doesn’t only prevent scalping, it also helps with preventing swampy yards in the rainy season.
A Sharp Blade is A Scalped Lawn’s Worst Enemy
It may appear odd, but the sharper the mower blade, the less likely you are to over-mow your lawn. This is due to the fact that sharp blades cut the top of your grass cleanly and leave the lower areas unharmed.
A dull mower blade, on the other hand, will yank on the grass and take the bottom parts off. This not only increases the chance of scalping but also makes your grass more susceptible to plant diseases.
Assess Your Lawn for Improvement
Examine the surface of your grass for any uneven places. If one section of the grass is lower than another, it may not be mowed at the same height as the rest of the lawn.
Adding topsoil to low-lying portions of your yard and leveling higher areas is the ideal approach to achieve an even cut every time and avoid scalped patches.
Set your sprinklers to go off in the early morning or late at night. You want to soak the grass thoroughly so that the water penetrates deep into the soil.
Water fewer during heavy rains and more during dry intervals. Adjust your watering schedule depending on the time of year.
How To Prevent Scalped Lawn in the Future
Once your scalped lawn has recovered, take steps to keep it that way. Aside from using a grass-cutting height chart, there are a few other things you can do to avoid future lawn scalping.
Mow the lawn at the height recommended for your grass type. Never cut out more than one-third of a grass blade at a time. If your lawn is excessively long, put your mower to a high setting and lower it each time you mow.
Sharpen the blades of your lawnmower. The sharper your mower blades, the less you’ll need to mow. There are also fewer possibilities for scalping.
Mow in cooler weather. Avoiding mowing your lawn during the hottest part of the day will help it recover faster if it is accidentally scalped.
Less heat on the lawn just after mowing means less dehydration. If you cut it too short, it will heal faster if it can hold moisture.
Because scalping your grass might do more harm than good, it’s best to stick to proper mowing techniques. Mow your grass once a week at the very least.
When the grass is actively growing in the spring, mowing every three to four days is recommended. After the initial mowing, adjust your mower to remove only one-third of the blade height and try to keep the blades at the optimal height for your grass species.
What is the appropriate time for lawn scalping?
Early spring is the best time to scalp your lawn. As temperatures vary by geographic region in the United States, so avoid scalping if there is any chance of a sudden cold snap.
How early can scalped lawn regrow?
Most warm-season grasses can regrow pretty rapidly. However, cool-season grasses may require reseeding.
How long should I fertilize my lawn after scalping?
Apply fertilizer and water thoroughly for the next 2-3 weeks after scalping your lawn.