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The Dog Days of Summer: Mowing After Hours

Monday, July 16 2012 9:30 AM

All across the U.S., the dog days of summer have weather reporters and lawn care enthusiasts barking. With temperatures in the triple-digits, it’s a hot one by any standard of measurement. But even when the mercury is boiling, and most of the neighbors are staying indoors soaking up the air conditioning, the lawn still needs care. It’s this time of the mowing season when the expert lawn care folks take to mowing their lawns at earliest light or right after dusk.

When the heat of the day makes it almost impossible to be outside for more than an hour without risking heat exhaustion, sunburn, or dehydration, it’s good to remember that your grass may be struggling just as much as you are under the midday sun. In the warmest parts of the country, green lawns have turned to tan as the grass goes into its dormant phase. This is normal. It happens every season, and it often removes the need for regular mowing as with the cooler, rainy seasons. Of course, if your lawn has a good sprinkler system, your grass may still be thriving. And as the grass grows, it needs to be cut. It’s at this time that you can take a hint from your local weather reporter who has probably been making a lot of noise about mowing your lawn later in the evening. Mowing at first light is something that some folks still do – mainly to beat the heat – but there are significant reasons to mow after hours. As many people wonder why this is recommended, the following are the three main reasons.

1. When you cut your grass in the heat of the day, the hot air and beating sun draw much more moisture from the exposed portion of the newly-cut blades of grass. When you mow late in the evening, the tips are given more time over the course of the night to dry and the moisture inside the blades is not sacrificed as quickly.

2. Ground-level ozone forms more easily during hot and sunny weather. Most weather experts will tell you that it’s best to consider mowing in the evening when it is cooler. This will prevent emissions from your mower from contributing to ground-level ozone build-up.

3. It’s much cooler in the evening. You won’t work up such a sweat or run the risk of overheating. Think about what you’ll save in lemonade costs!

Another handy tip for mowing in the heat of July and August is to make certain that your lawnmower blade is kept sharp. In most regions, the lawn mowing season begins no later than April (sometimes in early March) and lasts until the end of October. So, by the time July and August roll around, it may be a good idea to give your lawnmower blade a couple of licks with a metal file to maintain a clean cut. Keep in mind that grass that is struggling from the heat and lack of adequate rainfall in some areas of the country doesn’t need to be “roughed up” by a dull lawnmower blade. Keep that blade sharp and your lawn will look all the better when the rains and cooler temperatures return this fall.

And if you’re leery about lifting or raising a 100 lb push mower or 300 lb riding mower so that you can loosen the blade and pull it for sharpening, keep in mind that the MoJack line of lawn mower lifts have been designed to lift nearly every mower type. Blade sharpening has never been so easy.

The dog days of summer are rapidly coming to end. Lawn care enthusiasts can soon go back to mowing during the daylight hours. Until then, you’d be well advised to keep watering the lawn early in the morning and mowing after dusk. Just keep in mind that there may be noise abatement laws in some cities and counties. Be kind to your neighbors!