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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns


Scalping damage on an uneven mowing surface
Photo by Pam Geisel

A scalped lawn
Photo by Ali Harivandi

Click on images to enlarge.


Scalping occurs when turf is mowed so short that the stem tissue is exposed. Damaged turf turns yellow or brown. Mowing on uneven surfaces can also cause scalping, especially on hills or where the mower wheels drop into a low spot. Thick thatch layers or extremely weedy turf can also contribute to scalping.

Prevention and management

Mow at the recommended mowing height for your turf species and never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at each mowing. Dethatch when the thatch layer is more than 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) thick. Bermudagrass and other creeping-type grasses will generally outgrow scalping injury if proper cultural practices are followed. Ryegrasses, fescues and other bunch grasses may need to be reseeded or sodded if damage is severe.


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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