Mowing helps keep your lawn looking great and promotes growth. However, your mowing practices are pivotal in helping or hurting your lawn. There are many problems that arise with lawns that can be avoided by having good mowing practices. Avoiding things like mowing too short, mowing with dull blades, mowing infrequently, or cutting too much at once.Here are a few simple rules to follow to keep your lawn in tip top shape.
To get started here are a few reminders.
- Using a push mower? Be sure to always push in a forward direction.
- Wearing protective eye covering help keep debris shooting from your mower out of your eyes.
- Remain watchful for pets and children, especially if you have a loud mower.
- Wear closed-toe shoes.
- On a slope, be sure to move from side to side instead of up and down.This can help reduce the risk of injury from slipping.
Set Your Mower High
In order to help your grass grow and develop a deeper root system, that can more easily access water and nutrients, cut your grass higher. Even though you may have to cut more often only cutting the top third of your grass will benefit you lawn in the long run. “Scalping the lawn”, cutting to aggressively, causes grass to focus on regrowth instead of growing deeper roots. In addition, weeds are more likely to form in a scalped lawn. This is because taller grass blades help create shade for the soil thus keeping it cooler, helping prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Taller grass is also beneficial as a lifestyle choice. It is softer to walk on and helps cushion falls better than shorter grass.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Zoysia grass and Centipede grass prefer a middle mower setting, while Bermuda grass and creeping bentgrass work best on the lowest mower setting.
Mow a Dry Lawn
Mowing at midday, when the sun and temperatures are at their highest, stresses both the lawn and the mower. So the best time to mow is in the early evening. Unless it has rained that day, waiting until the early evening ensures that the lawn is dry, the sun is not beating down, and the lawn has recovery time before the heat of the next afternoon. Cutting in the morning is usually a bad idea due to wetness from dew and fog. If it has rained, wait for your lawn to dry before mowing, as cutting wet grass can result in an uneven trim. The wet clippings can also clog up you mower causing it to dump wet clumps of grass. If these clumps aren’t raked up they can smother the grass which causes brown spots.
Vary Your Mowing Pattern
Every time you mow, change the direction. Grass can adapt to the same pattern and lean in the direction you are mowing. Mowing in different directions helps avoid ruts in the lawn. This also keeps the grass standing up tall as it is not compensating for a repeated pattern.
Don’t Mow on a Schedule
Sticking to a schedule, like every Sunday, may not be helpful to your type of lawn. Mow as frequent as is needed considering grass type, growing conditions, growth pattern, and season. An example would be in spring, the lawn needs to be mowed more frequently because of the faster growth. Compare that to the end of the growing season or in the dead of summer when the grass may be able to be mowed once every one or two weeks.
Wait Before Mowing a New Lawn
A dramatic cut on new grass seedlings can shock it and stunt its growth. Depending on the type of grass you should wait until it has reached a certain height before mowing it. However, no matter what type of grass you have, do not cut more than the top third of the grass.
Here’s how tall your grass should be before you mow for the first time:
Bahia: 2-2 ½ inches
Bermuda: 1½-2 inches
Bluegrass: 2-2½ inches
Centipede: 1½-2 inches
Fescue: 2-3 inches
Perennial Ryegrass: 2-3 inches
Zoysia: 1-2 inches
Leave Grass Clippings on Your Lawn
As you are mowing, be sure to leave the clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings are biodegradable and break down quickly returning beneficial nutrients to the soil. As with the clumps make sure the clippings aren’t to numerous as to prevent smothering of the grass.
Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp
A dull blade can tear up your grass.For the cleanest cut, sharpen mower blades at the first sign of wear. Cutting your grass with a dull blade constantly weakens the grass over time making it more susceptible to disease, insect damage, and other stresses . A mower tune-up and blade sharpening once a year can also help with the logistics of the mower: it will start easier, make cleaner cuts, and slice your clippings without bogging down the mower blades. Also, remember to wash your mower after each use, to help prevent any blockages within the mower itself.
For more tips on upkeep on your mower be sure to check out our other blog Lawn Mower Tips and Tricks