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How to Slow the Growth of Lawn Grass

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How to Slow the Growth of Lawn Grass

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Overview

Americans have a love for carpets of lawn on their properties. However, lawns are high maintenance, particularly when mowing is required in the warmth of the growing season. Modifying habits can reduce the amount of mowing needed on a lawn as a reduction in watering and fertilizing can help slow the growth rate of lawn grasses. Mother Nature can trump efforts, as a moist soil and perfect weather conditions can create a season of lush and fast grass growth no matter what is done. Lawns are made of either cool-season grasses like fescue and bluegrass, or warm-season types like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.

Slowing Cool-Season Grass Growth

Step 1

Increase the temperatures of the air and soil. Although dictated by nature and season, cool-season grasses grow fastest when temperatures are no warmer than 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Eliminate application of manufactured, high-nitrogen fertilizers to the lawn. Nitrogen promotes vigorous, healthy growth in plants and ample or an over-abundance of nitrogen increases the growth rate of the already fast-growing grass.

Step 3

Use fertilizer if your soil is nutrient poor per a soil test and then use formulas that are not overly rich in nitrogen. High-nitrogen fertilizers are best applied once a year at the beginning of the growing season for the cool-season grass. Don't overkill lawn feedings.

Step 4

Allow the clippings from the lawnmower to remain on the lawn and decompose. These clippings are rich in nitrogen and other minerals that the lawn will readily utilize, lessening a need to continually apply man-made fertilizers.

Step 5

Reduce watering of the lawn. Cautiously monitor the amount of water the lawn is receiving. Over-watering in chorus with over-fertilizing a lawn when temperatures are ideal will result in tremendously fast-growing grass that needs more maintenance. Cool-season grasses need a lot more water when temperatures are hot to remain lush and green, so make sure this type of lawn is well-suited to your climate.

Slowing Warm-Season Grass Growth

Step 1

Decrease the temperatures of the air and soil. Although dictated by nature and season, warm-season grasses grow fastest when temperatures are warmer, in the range of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In mild winter areas when temperatures range around 50 degrees at night and 70 to 75 during the day, warm-season grasses slow their rate of growth.

Step 2

Eliminate application of manufactured, high-nitrogen fertilizers to the lawn. Nitrogen promotes vigorous, healthy growth in plants and ample or an over-abundance of nitrogen increases the growth rate on the already fast-growing grass. Consider using iron in the heat of summer to promote leaf greening without encouraging a massive growth response from an application of nitrogen.

Step 3

Use fertilizer if your soil is nutrient poor per a soil test and then use formulas that are not overly rich in nitrogen. High-nitrogen fertilizers are best applied once a year at the beginning of the growing season for the warm-season grass, such as in early spring. Don't over-fertilize.

Step 4

Allow the clippings from the lawnmower to remain on the lawn and decompose. These clippings are rich in nitrogen and other minerals that the lawn will readily utilize, lessening a need to continually apply more and more man-made fertilizers.

Step 5

Reduce watering of the lawn. Cautiously monitor the amount of water the lawn is receiving. Over-watering in chorus with over-fertilizing a lawn when temperatures are ideal will result in tremendously fast-growing grass that needs more maintenance. Warm-season grasses need much less water when temperatures are cooler, such as in winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for recommendations on fertilizers, timing and grass types to use in your climate and soils. Planting the wrong kind of turfgrass is expensive and may lead to overall failure of the lawn.

References

  • The U.S. National Arboretum: Turfgrass Questions and Answers
  • TurfgrassManagement.psu.edu: The Cool-Season Turfgrasses: Basic Structures, Growth and Development
  • LawnGrasses.com: Warm Season Grasses
Keywords: turfgrass, lawns, fast growing grass

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for Learn2Grow.com's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.

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