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Lawn Care Tips - Don't Scalp Your Lawn Yet!



All bermuda and zoysia grass lawns should be scalped every year – but not yet!

Scalping is just setting your lawn mower on its lowest setting, mowing your lawn, and bagging it (or, rake it and pick it up.)  This removes all the old dead stuff from your lawn and allows the sun to warm the soil, making your lawn green up and start growing sooner.  It’s like giving it a jump start.

But, it’s February.  Our entire service area has had some pretty warm temperatures lately, and I know it’s tempting to clean up your yard.  On one of those 70 degree days, I heard lawn mowers starting up and just winced!  If you scalp now, and then we get some more of those record-breaking lows, like Tulsa, Springdale and the rest of Northwest Arkansas did, then your grass’s roots will be exposed because you removed all of its lovely, warm insulation.  And it may freeze hard and die in areas (winterkill).  Even Huntsville, AL, already set a record this year with a temperature of 8 degrees.

So, be patient.  I know you see little green things growing, but those are weeds…or daffodils or crocuses, or other cold-weather stuff.  Scalping should be done after all chance of frost has past.

NOTE:  when the time is right, bermuda grass and zoysia grass are the only grasses that should be scalped!  Please don’t do that to your fescue.


Thanks for this article on scalping a lawn. It is very helpful. I was getting ready to start my mower because of the warm temps!
Posted @ Thursday, March 03, 2011 9:43 AM by Dean Olive
Thanks for this very helpful information. My mower was just begging me to take it out for an early stroll last week. It will now wait for a couple of more weeks.
Posted @ Saturday, March 05, 2011 7:57 AM by Sherman Loney
I live in Birmingham, AL. Can I scalp my Bermuda thus weekend? 
Thanks in advance, 
Posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 3:18 PM by Holder
Thank you Kathy for the very informative article. We are fortunate to have you writing for Fairway Lawns. I not only scalpe my lawn on the lowest in late march, but i will keeo my Bermuda grass mowed on the scalping level all summer. My grass is greener and thicker because it is mowed low. Thank you kathy
Posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 4:03 PM by mike mitchell
Hi, Holder – Yes! Scalping your Bermuda lawn this weekend sounds like a fine idea in Birmingham! Thanks for reading our blog!
Posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 4:18 PM by Kathy W.
It is now March 21st. I live in Van Buren, AR. Can I mow now?
Posted @ Monday, March 21, 2011 2:14 PM by Pam
Hi, Pam - yes, it should be fine to mow now. Thanks for reading our blog!
Posted @ Monday, March 21, 2011 2:24 PM by Kathy W.
Hi Kathy, 
You were right on point with the scalping! My grass is already green!! Btw...I really appreciate the speed to which you reply to your blog! Keep up the good work. 
Posted @ Monday, March 21, 2011 2:32 PM by Holder
Thanks, Holder! I'm glad that worked for you!
Posted @ Monday, March 21, 2011 4:26 PM by Kathy W.
Kathy is it ok to scalp bermuda now? I live in springdale. Also what mowing height do you recommend for bermuda? I have my mower set on the highest setting and have for 2 years. Yard seems great but I want the best.  
Thanks in advance! 
Bryan Dean
Posted @ Wednesday, March 23, 2011 6:33 AM by Bryan Dean
Hi, Bryan! We recommend waiting to scalp until all chance of a freeze is past. Frankly, we’re going to scalp our lawn this weekend. (I live in Tulsa, just a hop and skip from you.) We have some night-time lows forecast in the 30’s toward the end of the week, but I feel okay doing it this weekend. As far as mowing height, it depends on what type of Bermuda you have. Recommended mowing height for common Bermuda is 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Hybrid Bermuda, on the other hand, should be mowed at one half inch to 1.5 inches. Mowing short and frequently helps the Bermuda to grow sideways and stay thick. If your lawn looks great on the highest setting, I’m guessing you have common Bermuda? We have a page on mowing on our website that explains everything about mowing – the most common mistake we see is homeowners not mowing frequently enough. Typically, you should never mow off more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time. Hope this helps, and thanks for contacting us!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 23, 2011 8:21 AM by Kathy W.
Thanks Kathy!! I'm going to scalp it next weekend just to make sure were not hit with any frost. I never mow it low and mow it atleast once a week in mowing season usually twice since it grows so fast.  
Thanks again for the advice!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 23, 2011 8:23 AM by Bryan Dean
I have a company that runs a Lawn Mowing Service and reading this article has helped me improve my service a lot. Thank you for taking the time to write it. 
Posted @ Friday, October 26, 2012 7:02 AM by Lawn Mowing Company
I live in western Kansas. We are having highs in the 60's but lows in the 20's. Should I wait to scalp my fescus grass.
Posted @ Friday, March 08, 2013 4:58 PM by Doug
wow, I enjoyed reading this, I never knew to do something like that. Does scalping help keep your grass evenly grow? If I don't feel confident in doing the lawn care myself do you suggest its best to outsource?
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:09 PM by Julianna
I'm started scalping my Bermuda grass today- march 21, 2014. In birmingham and it was 70degrees for a week.. Now it calls for mid 20's next week... Am I screwed?
Posted @ Saturday, March 22, 2014 12:18 AM by Noah
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