There are two main reasons why we maintain a turf. The first is for aesthetics. Mowing at a specific height and frequency is necessary in order to maintain an attractive, dense turf.
The second reason for turf management is to maintain a surface for recreation and sports. Activities such as golf, baseball, soccer and football are played on turf specifically managed to enhance these activities. Professional turf mowers are a definite necessity.
Improper mowing of turf can be damaging to its health and appearance. Mowing will reduce the amount of grass leaf area needed for the grass to produce what it needs to thrive. It will weaken the grass and make it less able to resist disease.
Mowing too short can thin the grass and allow weeds to grow. It can also lead to an underdeveloped root system and produce sparse, thin turf. It is very important to find a healthy balance of maintenance that results in a healthy, attractive turf.
The height of cut is directly related to the amount of leaf area needed for the grass to perform life sustaining functions.
Frequency Of Cut
At no time should the amount of grass removed exceed 1/3 of the total of the leaf surface in any given mowing. This means that you must mow frequently enough so as not to allow the grass to grow to a length that subsequent mowing will remove to much of it’s surface.
If you remove more than 1/3 of the grass surface it can go into shock, cause browning of the leaves, slow the production of food and deplete the root system. In addition excessive leaf clippings can lead to the development of excessive thatch.
Reel Mower vs. Rotary Mower
A reel mower differs from a rotary mower in that it has multiple blades mounted on a cylinder. This type of mower is able to give a very low cut while still producing a high-quality turf. Reel mowers a great for striping.
Some of the cons about reel mowers are that they require more maintenance than rotary models. Reel mowers are available in very large sizes, which cut down on the amount of time it takes to complete the mowing process.
Unfortunately reel mowers are quite a bit more expensive than rotary mowers. This factor is becoming less of an issue as manufacturers are developing less expensive reel mowers. Because of the practice of leasing reel mowers, used ones become available for purchase when the lease is up.
Thatch and Scalping
After years of high maintenance, turf will develop a layer of stem and grass residue called thatch. All lawns have some but when it becomes excessive it produces an environment that is a haven for insects and disease.
Heavy thatch also interferes with watering, fertilizing and weed control.
To dethatch your turf you need to rent a special mower with vertical blades that lift out the build-up of leaves. This process will produce quite a bit of debris that will need to be removed. The turf will need time to re-establish itself after de-thatching.
Scalping is the result of uneven ground that when mowed over will produce an area of shorter grass and will appear as a yellow blemish. A floating deck feature is an option that will prevent scalping on professional turf mowers. It is only available on high-end models.
There are some general safety guidelines for operating a professional turf mower. Become familiar with the correct way to start the mower. Read the owner’s manual for instructions on how to properly operate the machinery. Know how to stop the engine quickly in case of emergency.
Do not let anyone operate the mower if they are unfamiliar with it. Never leave it running unattended. Do not refuel, adjust or clean the mower when it is running.
Disconnect the spark plug before attempting to do any work on it. Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
Before mowing take a look around the area to be mowed. Check for and remove all rocks and debris that could be a hazard.
Wear safety equipment as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep up on maintenance as per instruction manual.
Manufacturers of Professional Turf Mowers
There are many different makers of turf mowers. The following are some of the major manufacturers:
Any one of them is a good place to start. Be sure to compare models, features and prices. One last piece of advice is to make sure that the mower you choose has an adequate warranty.
Photo by Hector Alejandro, Creative Commons Attribution License