Lawn mowing is an effective way to promote growth and keep your lawn looking great. It’s important, though, to make sure you are mowing properly, as it can either help or hurt your lawn. Poor mowing practices are often the cause of many lawn problems — mowing too short, mowing with dull blades, mowing infrequently, or cutting too much at once.
Want to be on the cutting edge of lawn mowing? Mow your lawn properly by following these simple rules to get it right.
Mow a Dry Lawn
The best time of day to mow a lawn is in the early evening. Lawn mowing during the middle of the day, when temperatures are highest, stresses both the lawn and the mower. Waiting until the early evening when, the lawn is usually dry (unless it has rained during the day), the sun is not as intense, will give the lawn ample time to recover before the next afternoon’s heat arrives. Lawns are usually wet in the morning because of moisture from dew or fog. If it does rain, wait for the grass to dry before lawn mowing, as cutting wet grass can result in an uneven trim. Wet clippings can also clog your mower and cause it to dump clumps of grass on your lawn; if they aren’t raked up, they can smother the growing grass and result in brown spots.
- Don’t Mow on a Schedule
Mow as often as needed for your grass type, growing conditions, growth pattern, and season. Sticking to a schedule, like every Saturday, is not mowing your lawn when it actually needs it. You may need to mow your lawn as much as twice a week in the spring when the grass is actively growing. When growth slows during the heat of summer or at the end of the growing season, you may only need to mow your lawn once every week or two. You can, of course, mow your lawn as often as you want providing the grass isn’t too tall or the mower blade isn’t set too low — the lawn just doesn’t need it. Blue Iris varies its schedule depending on the time of year, and recent weather conditions see our post: Secrets to Mowing Your Lawn With Care
New Lawn Exceptions
Wait Before Mowing a New Lawn
After spreading grass seed, it’s best to wait for your new grass to get off to a great start before mowing. You can cut mew grass seedlings for the first time when they’ve reached mowing height, which varies by grass type. No matter what type of grass you have, do not cut more than the top ⅓ of the grass blades. A dramatic cutting can shock and stress new grass plants, slowing down the growth of your new lawn.
You should wait until your new grass plants are between 5 – 7.5 cm tall your grass before you mow for the first time.
When mowing a lawn created from newly laid turf, wait for 2 to 3 weeks before lawn mowing to give the sod a chance to root into the soil. To test if it’s ready to mow, back off on watering and walk on the turf; if it’s firm enough to walk on, it’s good to mow. (You can also gently pull up on the sod to check whether or not it has rooted.) Don’t cut the grass shorter than 2 inches for the first few times. Be very careful while you mow so you don’t pull up any turf (if a section gets moved around, just put it back in place).
Set Your Mower High
Set your mower at the highest preferred setting for your grass type and only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time, even if this means you have to mow again after several days. This is because longer grass blades can grow and support more roots and develop a deeper root system that is better able to find water and nutrients in the soil. Cutting too aggressively, also called “scalping the lawn,” forces grass plants to focus their energy on regrowing their blades, not deepening their roots. Scalping the lawn also makes your lawn more prone to weeds. Taller grass blades shade the soil and keep it cooler, helping prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Plus, there are lifestyle benefits: Taller grass is softer to walk on and helps cushion falls better than short grass.
Vary Your Lawn Mowing Pattern
Each time you mow, do it in a different direction. If you always cut your lawn using the same pattern, your grass learns which direction it’s being cut from and begins to lean in the direction you mow. By varying the mowing pattern, you also help avoid forming ruts in the lawn. Mowing your lawn from different directions will allow the grass to stand up nice and tall.
Practicalities of Lawn Mowing
Leave Grass Clippings on Your Lawn
When mowing, leave the clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings break down quickly and return beneficial nutrients to the soil. Mow often enough so too much isn’t removed at once and clippings are small. Removing too much of the grass-blade shocks the grass and leaves piles of long clippings on the lawn that do not break down quickly and can smother growing grass.
Hint: If you do bag clippings, toss them in the garden as mulch or compost them, but only if you haven’t used any lawn weed control products.
For the cleanest cut, sharpen mower blades at the first sign of wear. Dull blades tear up grass, causing ragged, brown edges. Continually using a dull mower blade can also cause your grass to weaken over time. It becomes more susceptible to disease, insect damage, and other stresses (like heat and drought). A mower tune-up and blade sharpening once a year helps in many ways; Your mower 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.
Heed These Helpful Lawn Care Reminders.
- When using a push mower, always push in a forward direction.
- Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes, not sandals or flip-flops.
- Keep an eye out for pets and children, especially if you have a loud mower.
- Wear sunglasses or some other eye-covering to protect your eyes from any debris that might shoot up while you mow.
- When mowing on a slope, mow along the slope to reduce the risk of injury from slipping.