If you have warm-season turf such as bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, scalping is a process which many homeowners and mowing companies do during spring. Scalping turf basically is mowing down the grass really short, removing much of the brown, dormant leaves and stems, and removing those by bagging the clippings. It helps even out the turf, looks nice after doing so, and may may help with lessening thatch accumulation, but not by much. It also helps with removing any dying winter weeds present. One other benefit of scalping is that it allows the soil to warm up faster and helps green up your lawn more quickly.
However, it is very important not scalp too soon in early spring, as it increases the chance of cold damage and winterkill on bermudagrass in mid-spring. We like to keep the root system and crown of the plants insulated with that dormant turf until the chance of a late spring freeze is past. The good news is that the 10-day forecast calls for nothing close to freezing temperatures throughout Carolina, so I think it’s OK to break out your mower for the first time.
If you have a cool-season grass such as fescue, you’ve probably mowed a few times already, as it’s been green and growing for a few weeks now. Make sure that you NEVER scalp a fescue turf, as it does not tolerate shorter mowing heights as bermudagrass does. Ideally, fescue should be no shorter than 2.5″ in spring, and higher as we get into the summer and fall.
And before firing up your mower for the first time, if not done last fall, sharpen the blade, clean out the gas line, change the oil, and generally get it tuned-up for proper mowing this spring.