Once you start to feel that “Ahhhh… spring is coming” feeling, it is time to start thinking about scalping your lawn. Scalping means cutting your lawn at the lowest possible mower setting. If you scalp too early, you risk damaging roots due to being exposed to the cold. Too late, you may scalp off new growth (which totally defeats the purpose). Ideal times for scalping Bermuda and Zoysia lawns fall somewhere between late February and mid-March.

The reason not to scalp in the Fall is that your lawn needs a “winter coat.” That layer of extra grass helps to insulate the roots and ensures strong spring growth.

Scalping is a recommended practice in the spring for most grass types. While your lawn may look a little exposed at first, in the end you are getting last year’s growth out of the way so the young spring growth can make a strong début.

While scalping can be very beneficial to your yard, it can also cause damage if done improperly.

Follow theses 6 steps to ensure you are scalping properly.

  1. If your lawn is fescue you should NEVER scalp! Scalping fescue lawns can be devastating. It will seriously inhibit the growth and resiliency.
  2. Scalp only between late February and mid-March. Scalping too early can reduce the natural insulation grass gives itself, while scalping too late risks damaging early growth.
  3. Set your mower on the lowest setting possible for your lawn. If your lawn is glassy smooth, then you can go to your mower’s lowest setting. For the rest of us, pay attention to the hips and dips. Even if it means a couple of passes, the best practice is to work your mower down slowly to ensure you are getting the closest cut without plowing into the dirt in the high spots.
  4. Bag your clippings. While mulching clippings the rest of the year is good practice, you definitely want to bag them when you scalp your lawn. The goal is to carry off the old growth, not mulch your lawn with it.
  5. Take your time and do it right. While scalping may be a bit more time consuming than your mid-season trims, it is an investment that will pay big dividends. If a thick, green, healthy lawn is the goal, don’t cut corners on this step!
  6. Sit back and watch your neighbors turn green with envy! Properly scalping will help ensure your lawn is fit and ready for any challenge this season can throw at it.