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.
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.
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.