When to mow lawn in spring is another popular lawn treatment question on Google. Unfortunately, there is no smoking gun answer for everyone who does this search. Why? Because this answer is governed by mother nature, the “final frost-free date,” and where your property is located on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Some peoples' dormant, warm-season turfgrass (meaning Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine) lawns are full of weeds in the winter because they did not put down pre-emergent last August and September. And since their brown yards have ugly, green weeds sticking up, they decide to go out and mow them down in late January or February. In reality, they should not be mowing those weeds; they should treat and spray a weed control herbicide to kill them before they put seeds out later in the spring.
In my opinion, you should mow your lawn in the spring (the first time), around 15-30 days before the final frost-free date (not the average date). And when I say “mow,” I mean scalping all the old grass thatch away (unless you have St. Augustine grass).
When to Scalp Lawn Grass in Texas
Here are the proper date ranges for when to scalp your lawn in Texas:
When to Scalp Lawn – far northern Panhandle area – Dalhart, Perryton, Texas – final frost-free date is May 1 – scalp dates April 1st-15th.
When to Scalp Lawn – southern Panhandle area – Lubbock & Amarillo, Texas – final frost-free date is April 20 – scalp dates March 21st-April 5th.
When to Scalp Lawn – Red River, north Texas area – Sherman, Wichita Falls, Paris, Texas – final frost-free date is April 3rd- scalp dates March 3rd-18th.
When to Scalp Lawn – greater Dallas & Fort Worth and north Texas area – final frost-free date April 1 – scalp dates March 1st-15th.
When to Scalp Lawn – east Texas, Piney Woods – Tyler & Longview – final frost-free date March 29 – scalp dates February 28th-March 14th.
When to Scalp Lawn – west Texas – Abilene, Midland, Odessa, San Angelo, Texas – final frost-free date April 3 – scalp dates March 4th-19th.
When to Scalp Lawn – upper Central Texas – Waco area – final frost-free date March 23 – scalp dates February 24th-March 7th.
When to Scalp Lawn – central Texas – Austin & San Antonio area – final frost-free date March 1 – scalp dates February 1st-15th.
When to Scalp Lawn – upper Valley & upper Gulf Coast – Houston, Victoria, Laredo, Corpus Christi, Texas– final frost-free date February 18 – scalp dates January 19th-February 4th.
When to Scalp Lawn – lower Valley - South Padre, Brownsville, Texas – not applicable, as warm season grass in this area rarely goes fully dormant.
How to Scalp a Lawn – How Short to mow Grass in Spring - Scalping Bermuda Grass & Zoysia Grass
How to scalp a lawn may seem like a strange question to those who grew up in Texas, but most people who live in the Texas metro areas now are not from Texas.
How short to mow grass in the spring is another frequently asked question. Answer: scalp it.
Important Note: this section does not apply to St. Augustine lawn grass. Read below for why you can’t scalp St. Augustine.
Here are the steps for how to scalp a lawn and for scalping grass:
#1 Make sure your lawn mower has been serviced each year. Make sure you change the engine oil, sharpen the blade, and blow out (or change if it is four years old) the air filter.
#2 Buy some landscape bags or big outdoor trash bags.
#3 Set all of your mower wheels to the lowest setting. Make sure all wheels are set on the identical number one peg.
#4 Install the bag on your mower. Important note: you should not scalp a lawn unless you are going to bag the dead clippings. It will be worse for your lawn to have 3 inches of dead, mulched chaff on top of it than not to scalp at all.
#5 The grass needs to be dry. Wait until noon or afternoon to get started.
#6 Start mowing. If you have never scalped your yard, it will be hard and dirty work the first time. And you will have to empty the bagger every 200-300 sqft.
#7 Don’t take your usual morning shower before starting to scalp. You are definitely going to need a shower after you are finished!
#8 Watch Out – if you have tree roots sticking out of the ground, don’t go over them. It could bend your blade and stop the engine. Also, if you have improperly installed sprinkler heads (meaning someone did not bury them flush with the ground or slightly below), don’t go over them with the mower. Also, don’t go over the sidewalk or rocks with the blade running.
When Should You Scalp St. Augustine Grass Lawns in Texas
When should you scalp St. Augustine grass in Texas? Answer: Never.
While St. Augustine is a warm-season grass, that is where its similarities to Bermuda and Zoysia stop. St. Augustine is like a delicate, fussy child. You cannot spray 90% of warm-season herbicides on it; it is overtly susceptible to every kind of fungus, along with diseases like TARR and SADD; and you cannot scalp in the Spring as it does not regenerate from the roots and rhizomes like Bermuda and Zoysia, almost all of its growth comes from the stolon runners.
St. Augustine lawns should be kept at a height of 3-4 inches. Therefore, in the spring, you can cut it down to 1.5-2 inches, but don’t mow it any lower than that.
Should I Scalp my Lawn in the Fall Before Winter
Should I scalp my lawn grass in the fall, before winter? Answer: No.
Your lawn needs insulation to help protect it from hard freezes. And unless you are overseeding your warm-season grass with winter ryegrass (which will insulate the ground), which requires you to scalp off all the thatch in September/October before overseeding, then the only time you should scalp your lawn is in the spring.
Why do People Burn Their Grass
Why do people burn their grass lawns? Our grandparents used to burn their Bermuda grass lawns and pastures. While it is still an excellent cultural practice, and some people still do burn in rural areas, people burning their grass is not lawful or feasible (think plastic sprinklers, shrubs, nosy neighbors, etc) in highly populated suburban/urban areas.
Burning dormant grass chaff has numerous benefits for pastures and lawns:
A. Adding nutrients and organic matter back to the soil from the burned chaff.
B. Removing the “insulation” the old dormant grass is casting over the soil and allowing the sunlight to directly warm the soil up faster, causing your grass to green up faster in the Spring from the rhizomes and roots.
C. Killing dormant insect eggs and fungus that may be harboring in the grass chaff.
D. Getting rid of thatch.