Do You Need To Scalp Your Lawn?
Ask the Doctor –
Your Source For Lawn Care Tips
Kerry Tai - May 29, 2014

Scalping your lawn may bring to mind images of somebody running around with a meat cleaver attacking your grass.  It is not really like that, though. So what does scalping your lawn mean, and why might you need to do it?

What is scalping?

Thankfully, scalping does not really involve a meat cleaver, and there is no gore involved. It simply means that you set your lawn mower at its lowest setting in order to mow your lawn, and that you clip so low that you expose the stems of your blades of grass. You may have accidentally scalped your lawn and left bald spots if you mowed too close.

But sometimes, you may want to intentionally scalp your lawn, like at the beginning of the season. Of course, this depends upon what kind of grass your lawn is. Scalping a lawn is mostly suitable for Bermuda grass, which is a warm-season grass. That is because the grass is dormant during the winter, and scalping it can give it a kick start into growing in the spring. Scalping a lawn can also eliminate built-up thatch, and protect against lawn diseases. And it can help your soil get more sunlight, which can be beneficial to lawn growth.

When should you scalp your lawn?

The best time to scalp your lawn is in the early spring. However, temperatures may vary by U.S. geographic region, so if there is any danger of a sudden cold snap coming, do not scalp. That is because frost can negatively affect a scalped lawn.

Reasons not to scalp

As previously noted, scalping is mostly suitable for Bermuda grass, so it is not a good idea to do it for some other types of lawns. In addition, depending upon your climate, scalping could potentially result in weed growth in exposed areas. So it may not be suitable for your yard. While Lawn Doctor does not offer mowing services, they can advise you on whether or not scalping is a good idea for your lawn.

Pay attention to good mowing practices

It is critical to have your lawn mower in good shape – that means sharp blades, and regular lawn mower maintenance. Talk with your Lawn Doctor lawn care expert about their lawn mower maintenance programs. Dull blades are ineffective and even potentially damaging when it comes to your lawn.

In addition, make sure that starting in the spring, you mow your lawn at least once a week -- or even more often – in order to keep up with a growing lawn. When scalping, you should set the lawn mower at its lowest setting in order to cut the blades more closely. You may have to do your lawn scalping in two mowing sessions when it comes to scalping, as it involves a lot of gathering lawn clippings and bagging them. That additional maintenance will take more time. In addition, you may want to make sure that the lawn is dry when you scalp, because wet clippings are heavier and more difficult to deal with.

Talk to Lawn Doctor before scalping

Since scalping may not be the right solution for your lawn, please talk to your Lawn Doctor lawn care professional before considering the process.