Mowing Injury

April 22, 2018
  • Mowing Injury

Mowing Injury

The mechanical grazing imposed by mowers is often responsible for mowing injury leading to unacceptable turf quality. By knowing how to properly identify mower injury and immediately correcting the problem, a healthier turf can be maintained.


Removing too much of the turf canopy at one cutting can often result in stress and plant death. Any mowing which removes an excessive amount of top growth is called scalping. This mowing injury is typically a problem in unlevel landscapes.

Symptoms of scalping are brown and yellowing turf associated with closely mowed turf canopies which appear stem-like at elevated areas in the landscape or an area with a hole or depression. The stem appearance results from removing excess vegetation. Damaged mowing injury areas in rhizomatous (lateral root spreading) species are normally self-healing. Bunchgrasses, such as tall fescue, may require reseeding.

Dull Blade Injury

The second mowing injury is when dull mower blades shred the tips of grass blades. Affected blades appear to have small “threads” extending from them. These “threads” are the protruding vascular bundles of the grass blades. Shredding of the tips causes them to turn straw-brown and gives the overall turf canopy a grayish cast.

In addition to decreasing the aesthetic appearance of turf, mowing injury opens the grass plant up to infection, since the mycelium from certain turfgrass fungal pathogens will enter the leaf through these frayed ends. Without a doubt, the best way to relieve these symptoms is to have sharp blades and well-maintained mowers.



L. J. Giesler. (1997). Abiotuc Turf Injury. In F. Baxendale, Ph.D., & R. Gaussoin, Ph.D., Integrated Turfgrass Management for the Northern Great Plains (pp. 173-174). Location: Nebraska


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