Is There Any Benefit to Lawn Scalping? | TruGreen

Is There Any Benefit to Lawn Scalping?

By TruGreen June 13, 2023
lawn mower on lawn

Lawn Scalping: What You Need To Know About This Lawn Care Practice

Let’s be real: Lawn care isn’t something that’s one-and-done with a weekend’s worth of hard work. It’s an investment, and like all investments, it takes a bit of time and commitment to get results. Of course, you have TruGreen® to do the bulk of the work for you (and honestly, we’re thrilled to do it). But to get the absolute most out of your TruGreen lawn care services, a bit of maintenance is needed between scheduled visits. Namely: Regular mowing. 

While mowing the lawn is often seen as a mindless-yet-necessary chore, doing it properly is essential. Cutting the grass too short can result in scalping the lawn — which could ultimately set your lawn care goals back. We’re here to help avoid that potential problem. Ahead, we’ll teach you what you need to know about lawn scalping, including what it is and why it could be a problem. You’ll also learn a bit about mowing best practices so you can protect your investment between scheduled TruGreen visits. Keep reading to learn when to mow — and when to let it grow.

What Is Lawn Scalping?

For those who’ve never heard the term before, lawn scalping may sound a bit, well, sinister. And in many cases, there’s a reason for that: It can be risky. As you could probably guess, lawn scalping is what happens when you cut your grass short. How short is too short depends largely on the type of grass you have, but typically, we recommend removing no more than ⅓ of the grass’ blade at a time. Going slightly over this recommendation once or twice is probably okay, but going significantly over can expose the grass stems and leave you with a scalped lawn.

What Are The Risks Associated With Lawn Scalping?

We don’t generally recommend scalping grass because it can harm your lawn (except in a few rare cases, but we’ll get to that shortly). Firstly, cutting your grass too short can impede growth — sometimes significantly. Grass needs nutrients to thrive and can’t photosynthesize sufficiently if most of the blade is removed. Scalping your grass can also leave your lawn vulnerable to weeds, which compete with your grass for the nutrients in the soil. This, too, can inhibit how well your grass grows. 

Finally, scalped lawns are more susceptible to stress from inadequate watering, foot traffic and drought. These stressors can leave your turf vulnerable to disease, which often needs targeted care to get under control. So scalping could get in the way if you want a dense, healthy lawn.

Will Grass Grow Back After Scalping?

Accidents happen. If you’ve accidentally scalped your lawn, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do about it (or whether your lawn will recover). While scalped lawn recovery times vary depending on how short you cut your grass, we can help. Your local TruGreen expert can assess your lawn and determine the best course of action to get your turf back in shape. Whether it’s applying fertilizer, aeration & overseeding or just arming you with advice, we’re with you every step of the way.

When Should You Scalp Your Lawn?

There are exceptions to (almost) every rule, and lawn scalping is no different. Some grasses can benefit from seasonal scalping. However, care needs to be taken so as not to promote weed development or cause unnecessary damage. Keep reading to learn more about when scalping your lawn is worth considering.

Scalping Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses thrive when temperatures are between 80°F-95°F and are typically chosen for lawns in the southern U.S. Some common species include bermuda, centipede and zoysiagrass. After winter, these grasses may appear brownish because they go dormant in cold weather, and scalping can help remove some of the discolored dormant plant material. Done properly, it can also encourage new growth and help speed along the green-up process. If you want to try scalping your lawn, do so in late March or early April when the grass begins to green. And, to stay on the safe side, aim to cut your grass no shorter than one to two inches — any shorter, and you can injure your lawn and more weeds will develop. Finally, avoid scalping centipedegrass lawns entirely, as doing so can cause permanent damage.

Scalping Cool-Season Grasses

Avoid scalping cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass. Instead, you can encourage optimal growth by mowing to an appropriate height as needed, giving your lawn plenty of water, and sticking to your regularly scheduled TruGreen services.

To Scalp or Not To Scalp: The Bottom Line

Ultimately, because it’s such a tricky practice and only compatible with a couple grass types, we don’t generally recommend scalping your lawn. If you’re looking for things that you can do to help your lawn thrive, consult a TruGreen expert. In addition to providing comprehensive and guaranteed lawn care services, your local lawn care expert can share maintenance tips to help ensure your lawn remains a place the whole family can enjoy. 

Get started creating the lawn of your dreams.


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