Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.
I’m often asked about the effect of following the same mowing pattern on turfgrass. I always recommend trying to vary the pattern throughout the year even for relatively lightweight push-mowers to avoid causing localized compaction and ruts on the areas where the wheels always track. For larger commercial riding mowers, the risk of compacting the soil and ultimately affecting turf quality is even greater if the mower is always following the same pattern.
I recently visited a local condominium complex where it was very obvious that due to the size of the mowing equipment and design of the lawn the mowers were always following the same track. Tracks were very apparent. The tracks were compacted; the area between the tracks had a thick thatch layer. My guess based on the age of the complex was that they have probably been mowing in this same pattern for at least 10 years. The solution would be to core cultivate to alleviate the compaction and then to try and change that mowing pattern.