Question of the Week Number 1: February 22, 2018

“Neil, is it a good idea to ‘scalp’ my lawn? How should I do it?”

Scalping as it refers to a lawn involves setting your mower blade down one or two notches to remove all the winter-killed brown stubble. It’s a task of late February in South Texas into early March in North Texas.

Photo: It’s amazing how big the pile of clippings can be when you start scalping your lawn.

On the positive side…
It allows the sun’s warming rays to reach the soil more efficiently. Since the soil warms up more rapidly the grass will green up one or two weeks earlier.

You’ll be able to see the new green blades since the old grass will be out of the way.

Scalping also gets rid of many of the cool-season weeds, most notably henbit and chickweed. They lack the vigor to regrow.

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Of a less positive nature…
Scalping stirs up a ton of dust and mold spores, so you’ll need to wear a high-quality respirator to protect your lungs.

That dust will also be extremely irritating to your eyes, so wear goggles while you’re mowing.

Two things to remember…
Scalping is mainly aesthetic, so if you opt not to do it your lawn won’t be much worse for your decision.

Those clippings will be rich sources of organic matter and nutrition. Don’t bag them and send them to the landfill. Unless your city has a yard-waste recycling facility, they really don’t want them. Use the clippings in your compost pile or apply them as a mulch around your shrubs.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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