Newly seeded lawn: When to cut?

theconstantgardeners(8)November 2, 2009

I reseeded our entire yard (fescue, Georgia) about 3-4 weeks ago after doing extensive prep work. But we had a BIG rain shortly after the seed went down and I lost a bunch of the seed due to washout,....however about half the yard ended up taking.

The result was really patchy germination. After getting great advice on this forum, I bought some more seed, froze it, prepped the areas needed, thawed the seed and reseeded this past Thursday. I've had great luck bc we got a nice misty rain most of the weekend. Haven't seen germination of the new seed yet, but am very optimistic that we will soon bc of the misting rain and bc the freezing is supposed to shorten the germination period to around 5 days.

HERE'S THE QUESTION: The first round of seed is now about 1.5-2 inches tall. I think fescue is supposed to be cut at about 3 inches. Is this going to be bad for the second round of seed I threw down? How would you all suggest handling cutting for the first time? How tall is too tall to wait? Assuming the second round of seed is germinating somewhat by the time the other grass is 3 inches tall, will it hold in place or be sucked up by a mower?

I have a mulching/bagging push behind mower that can be set from 1 to 5. Also I have a good string trimmer. Maybe this would be the way to go because I would have greater control on what gets cut, how low, and I wouldn't have to push a mower on the still germinating lawn.

Any thoughts or questions are most welcome.

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I think it is pretty important to cut the lawn at the recommended height. Any taller and the new grass will start laying down which increases it's chance of dying off due to rot and fungal disease since you will still be watering the new seed. The best solution would be to get a reel mower (the one you push) to cut the new fescue. If you can't borrow or rent one, you can buy one for about $150, which is not too much considering what you have spent in time and money on your lawn. This will not suck up the new seeds, and the mower is much lighter than a power mower, reducing damage to the new grass and the new seed. Of course you need to mow before the new seedlings are visible above the soil, as they are very vulnerable to being walked on at that point.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 12:02AM
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I really appreciate the advice. However I looked into these and I've read that they don't cut very well. A sharp, clean cut would be really important on new fescue no?

What do you think of the string trimmer option? The concern here is it won't have suction which would stand the grass up.

I blew the leaves off today and got a better look at everything. Some of the grass is definitely 3 inches, however most of it is less than 2. And the new seed still hasn't germinated, but its probably close.

If I don't get any feedback, I may just cut it with my push mower in a few sections on a high setting.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:12PM
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I just searched around and read some other threads on here and I found something that might help. One poster said when in a tough spot like this, you could lightly moisten the areas that seed hasn't germinated then mow.

The thought being that the moisture will hopefully help keep the seed in place.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:22PM
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Reel mowers cut very well, especially if they are new or the blades have been recently sharpened. New tall fescue would be no match for a sharp reel mower. If you do use your rotary mower, make sure the blade is sharp, and instead of putting it on the "high setting", put it on a setting that puts the blade at two inches. I know this sounds low, but if you are mowing 3 inch new tall fescue, you want to remove 1/3 of the length, so you want to mow at 2 inches. To do this, measure the distance from the bottom of the blade to the bottom of the mower deck, if it is more than 1/4 inch, then you need to factor this in when you measure the distance from the bottom of the mower deck to a smooth level surface, preferably pavement. I think a light watering would be a good idea to help keep the seeds in place if you use the mower. The string trimmer idea I don't like because it is hard to keep a constant and correct length for the whole area you intend to cut. You can do a lot more harm than good IMO.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 1:04PM
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ohio2112(Zone 6 NE Ohio)

I agree with tiemco that the reel mower is the way to go.
I bought the scotts reel mower from home depot just for this purpose. It provides an excellent cut with absolutely no chance of sucking up seed or baby seedlings.

The only downside is it doesn't mulch leaves and it's max height is 3".
So I still plan to use the rotary mower in late fall and when I'm mowing above 3".

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 3:35AM
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Cool. Thanks everyone. I think I will try to buy a rotary then. I'll update in case anyone's interested.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 1:19PM
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