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Scalping a Lawn vs. Mowing Low and Bagging

Lawn Mowing Measurement Pre-Cut

Lawn Mowing: The BIG Difference Between a “Scalp” and a “Mow Low and Bag”

We often receive requests to have lawns scalped in anticipation for the new growing season. We have also found that many people have a different definition of what a “scalped” lawn should look like. In this article, we will diffuse any confusion between a Scalp and a MowLow and Bag. We will also give some advice to help you make the best decision for your lawn, based on the type of grass you have. Choosing the right option will ensure that you have a thick and healthy lawn in the months to come.

Scalping the Lawn

Very simply, a scalped lawn is a lawn that has been mowed very low, almost to the dirt. The idea is to mow low enough to remove thatch (mulched grass from past mows) and to allow more sunlight to reach the soil.

To achieve a scalp, your lawn mowing service company will lower their lawnmower to its lowest setting. A successful scalp is one where the stems of the grass are left exposed. Conversely, an unsuccessful scalp will leave bare spots. As a rule of thumb, if you see bare spots in a lawn, you can expect to see slow grass growth or weeds.

Now, the type of grass you have will affect your decision to scalp. Bermuda grass can be scalped with little repercussions. Zoysia grass can be scalped but is not recommended. Grasses like St. Augustine should never be scalped.

The biggest disadvantage to a scalped lawn is that it places the grass in a weakened state. At the time of year when you would perform a scalp, your grass is focusing its energy into coming out of dormancy. By removing a large section of the grass’ blades, you inadvertently lessen one of its main ways to collect energy. For this reason, we recommend a Mow Low and Bag.

Mowing the Lawn Low and Bagging

A Mow Low and Bag is the ideal way to start the season. With this cut, the lawnmower is set to a lower setting than a normal cut and the clippings are bagged, not mulched. This cut removes enough dead plant material to increase the speed at which the ground absorbs sunlight. It also makes it easier for new grass sprouts to grow as there is more room to spread out. Furthermore, a mow low and bag is usually cheaper to perform because less time is spent mowing and emptying bags than with a scalp cut.

In most cases, a Mow Low and Bag service only lowers the mower 1 to 2 inches below the current height of the grass. A Scalp service lowers the mower down to its lowest setting.

The biggest advantage for a Mow Low and Bag is that it is beneficial for all grass types. Bermuda and Zoysia grass will benefit most from an early season Mow Low and Bag service. For St. Augustine grass, the low cut will remove the risk of damage and less susceptible to diseases. Following the first cut, you should start to gradually increase the mowing height for all grass types.

The decision to either scalp or low-mow a lawn is a decision to be made based on your current lawn’s condition. The goal is to do what’s best to see your grass grow healthy and thick this growing season. If you’d like some help making this decision, contact us today.

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