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Not quite a simple cut

Citycare Property lawn mowers in Auckland have faced a double whammy with growth issues this spring season.

Not only did lockdown and the associated restrictions on mowing work result in the grass in our parks and open spaces gaining additional length, but the growth was exacerbated by unusually warm winter temperatures causing accelerated and lush spring growth.

Peter Taylor is one of our mower operators with a farming background – which gives him a finely tuned understanding of grass growth patterns and seasonal impacts.

“This spring season we are contending with two issues. The first is managing the mowing of longer grass due to COVID -19 lockdowns and the second is because Auckland did not experience polar blasts last winter. This warmer winter weather means the soil temperature is currently 1-2 degrees warmer this spring and we have had growth of 8-11mm per day as opposed to the usual 7mm. As the five-week level 4 lockdown came to an end the grass was up to 300mm long in some outdoor spaces we manage,” says Peter.

Our team had to develop new mowing options to tackle the challenges and ensure customer expectations and standards were met. It’s not quite as simple as getting the mower out and cutting the grass. The longer the grass to be cut, the greater the amount of clip and the windrows (lines of cut grass) become quite noticeable.  The areas where clip cannot be dispersed can create dead and unsightly patches. 

To counteract these issues the Citycare Property team developed a three-week schedule to tame the turf – there really is a great deal of science involved in making sure that the grass is perfect.

During the first mowing cycle, completed in mid-October, we purposely raised mowing decks to cut the new growth to 100mm. This was to enable ongoing park use, without the negative impacts of large clip deposits.

The second mowing cycle saw mowing decks lowered further to achieve an 80mm cut height with the final cut bringing grass back to the specified contracted height of 60mm.

None of this is achieved quickly, it takes time and thought, and the final result will not be achieved until the end of November.

Peter anticipates that the unexpected growth will carry on through to January next year if we continue with this warm, damp weather. This will mean ongoing changes to the mowing schedule to ensure the perfect cut is maintained.

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