Q: I’ve started mowing the hybrid bermudagrass of an elderly friend. It’s been mowed tall with a riding mower. In her garage I found a McLain reel mower, which I repaired, but the grass is too thick to cut with it. How do I get it down short again?
A: You have to train the grass to grow lower. Just as you’d train a dog to sit and roll over, grass can be trained to behave in a civilized manner. Riding mowers can’t be adjusted to mow as low as hybrid bermudagrass prefers. The result is a lot of hard-to-cut stems that are two inches above the soil. Get a rotary mower and begin reducing your cutting height by one notch each week. At the lowest rotary mower setting you’ll likely be able to start mowing with the reel mower at its highest setting. You’re aiming for a mowing height of 1 1/2 inches, which is the ideal height for hybrid bermudagrass in most situations.