Mowing is one of those things that most people tell me that they just do to get it out of the way. I too have a love-hate relationship with mowing. Sometimes the smell and feel of a fresh cut is its own reward and other times it feels like an unnecessary hassle just to start the mower. So why do I do it? Because of how important a good mow is to keeping or creating a healthy lawn. But it isn’t just doing it, it’s how you do it.
Here are some lawn mowing tips to ensure you get the most of each mow
Prep is key
The best golf courses and sports fields have a couple things in common; They utilise the best technologies available and ,you guessed it, they prep very well. Most of us probably wouldn’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment for our home yard, so what we can do to have the edge is, be as good at prep as they are.
The best mower is the one you have, as long as the blades are sharp. Many of us spend so much time picking the coolest machine or most powerful or most expensive that oftentimes we forget that the mower, with all its gadgets and features, is just the mechanism for the blades. At the end of the day, in its most basic state, the blade is the tool that does the work. So make sure the tool is at its best. When grass isn’t cut cleanly it leaves it susceptible to diseases and other stressors. Sharp blades cut grass, dull blades rip.
Stopping mid cut is not something you want to happen, so ensure the mower can go the distance. If you have a gas mower, ensure it’s gassed up. For those with electric mowers, make sure they’re charged. All for all of you using reel mowers, a light snack and so water for yourself is good. Actually, that applies for everyone, stay hydrated.
Before any mowing gets done it’s a good idea to examine the lawn for any debris. Remove stones, children’s toys or anything else that can potentially damage the blades. Anything that can’t be removed’ like stakes, mark with high visibility paint.
Dry grass good, wet grass bad
Where possible mow dry grass. Mowing wet or swamp grass makes it harder for your mower to cut it cleanly which produces the same problem as mowing with dull blades. It rips the grass. Another issue that arises is clumping, which can suffocate parts of the lawn, create thatch build up and even promote fungus growth. So if you can wait another day, please do. But if it can’t be avoided, try raising the mower height a notch above what you’re used to, collecting the clippings and increasing the overlap.
Let’s start mowing
This where the fun begins.
Choose a starting point and mow end to end in straight lines. When you,ve completed one end, mow in the opposite direction with a slight overlap and repeat. A 4 inch overlap is usually enough or what I do is place the inside of the mower’s wheel onto the edge of the line that was just cut and continue from there.
Another thing is, if you have slopes to deal with, mow side to side. Mowers can be heavy, and once weight is paired with an incline then MA = Fw/Fi= cosΦ / sin(θ – Φ) = not a good time. Had to use physics to highlight the seriousness of mowing inclines. So avoid mowing up and down.
There are a few factors to consider when choosing the mowing height. The first being the type of grass. Each species of grass usually has a recommended mowing height. For instance, Bermuda grass has a recommended mow height between 1 ½ to 2 inches, whilst Tall fescue is between 2 to 3 inches.
The second is the growing season. From hot and humid summers to cold and chilly winters, each season has its own ability to stress grass. Cutting grass a bit taller in summer shades the soil which slows evaporation and helps to prevent weed growth. Hot times, tall grass: Cool times short.
Third is shady areas. For plants every second is a fight for sunlight and the taller the grass is, the more surface area it has to be able to compete for it.
If you’ve been following along then you’ve done enough to create stripes. Stripes are created from mowing back and forth. How it gets the look is from the reflection of the sun off of the grass blades that are being pushed in opposite directions to each other. So for the most picturesque striped look have the sun in your back and the lawn ahead of you.
Striping a lawn is made easier with a mower that has a roller attachment but if you don’t have one it’s still possible to stripe. Mow as you usually would, then when you’re finished turn off the mower and lower to the lowest setting. Push the mower in the pattern you want and there you have it. The heavier the mower, the better it works.
Also keep in mind that some grasses stripe better than others. For instance, from my experience tall fescue is easier to stripe than Bermuda grass unfortunately.
There’s no need to pick up the clippings when you’re finished mowing. Those clippings contain a variety of nutrients that will help feed the grass resulting in a healthier lawn. If anything ensure clippings aren’t clumped up on the lawn, as this where most of the problems can arise. If you’re a bit nervous of that happening, then after you mow use a rake or blower to spread them out more evenly.
Trimming & edging
If the mow was the haircut, then this is the roundup. This gives a lawn a more finished look and just like at the barber, this can happen before or after. The argument for doing this first is the mower cleans up a lot of the mess from trimming and also not having to walk back onto the lawn after the mowing is done. This is probably the better option if you’re entering the same day that you’ve mowed. If not, then like I said, either can work.
The next mow
There are a couple things we should already be thinking about after everything is done and the dust is settled.
When it comes to scheduling your next mow, let the grass do the talking. This is one of those tips that is best if you can but understandable if you can’t. Your grass might be ready for the next cut the same day as that important meeting or the week you’re out of town. So when all the stars align just remember this tip.
Try to implement different patterns each time you mow. If one day you mowed side to side, then next time do it back and forth. Doing this delays soil compaction and prevents rutting.
Now that you’ve mowed all that’s left is for you to sit back and enjoy.