Back Acres Program

Homeowners of multi-acre properties are encouraged to consider dividing and managing their property into “Front Yard ”, “Back Yard” and "Back Acres” areas. We use demonstration sites incorporating various turfgrass species adapted to conventional and reduced mowing regimes. Four mowings per year is compared to 20 mowings per year.

Mowing low maintenance grasses twice in the spring and twice in the fall at 5 to 6 inches can provide basic aesthetic quality and competition to invasive weeds. Re-establishing the "Back Acres" into a typical lawn is addressed. It is critically important never to mow “Back Acres "area too low as in scalping. We recommend setting the mower to the highest setting, usually a minimum of 5 inches to maintain a dense turfgrass canopy, resisting weed invasion.

We have found lawn herbicides valuable during the first year of turfgrass establishment removing weed competition, allowing low maintenance turf grasses to establish a dense canopy. Some "Back Acres" demonstration sites have remained relatively weed free without the use of herbicides for many years after the establishment year. Other areas have required herbicide applications every two or three years to maintain an attractive low maintenance lawn area.
Mid-August to mid-September plantings are much more successful than spring -- summer plantings.

Twenty-year-old stand of tall fescue mowed four times per year.  Herbicides used to control weeds during the first growing season and approximately every three years.

Twenty-year-old stand of tall fescue mowed four times per year. No herbicides applied for the last 15 years.

Eight-year-old stand of fine fescue mowed four times per year in the background compared with 22 times per year at 3 1/2 inches. Note the Spring meadow effect of the green seed heads prior to the seeds maturing and disseminated.

Early summer stand of fine fescue with mature seed heads. Pen is approximately 6 inches in height indicating appropriate mowing height for "Back Acre Program" 4 mowings per year. 

Stand of tall fescue after mowing at 6 Inches. Note the clippings are not excessive when mowed at 6 Inches.

This shows an example of mowing "Back Acres" tall fescue 4 times per year. Only seed heads and a few inches of leaves are cut with minimal clippings. Mow during dry weather to prevent clippings from smothering turfgrass.  The same mowing can be accomplished with riding mowers with the deck at the highest position. This stand of turfgrass is 18 years old and mowed approximately 60 times.

Perennial ryegrass was seeded compared to tall fescue above. Perennial ryegrass did not survive under reduced mowing of four times per year. Weeds and grasses invaded the area as the ryegrass died.