The most common grass found in the central Virginia region is tall fescue. Tall fescue benefits from a tall mowing height because the crown of the plant (growing point) is generally 3 inches or more off the ground. Also, the taller heights help prevent weed germination, reduce competition from unwanted grasses and decreases the amount of water required for turf growth.
Mower Height Recommendations
The mower setting should never be less than 3 inches. Virginia Green Lawn Care recommends maintaining turf at 3.5-4 inches measured with a ruler in the lawn after mowing. When mowing, remove no more than one-third of vertical shoot growth per mowing, as this may damage the plants and cause yellowing of the turf. Additionally, Virginia Green recommends mulching clippings as opposed to bagging them. This will naturally recycle nutrients within the lawn.
We understand sometimes clippings can bunch up on the lawn when mulching. If this happens, scatter them with a blower or mow again to disperse. If you need to run over the lawn a second time, this could be a great opportunity to try and apply some mower stripe designs!
When properly mowed and clippings are mulched, Virginia lawns generally do not need dethatching (which aggressively removes dead and decomposing grass clippings from the soil surface). Rather than dethatching your lawn, consider annual soil aeration which will help grass clippings decompose more rapidly, and the grass will grow deeper roots.