If you are looking for tips to keep your lawn looking its best, consider your regular maintenance as a start to creating a well-manicured, healthy-looking lawn. Since grasses are perennial, they are in a constant state of growth. Even dormant grass root systems are working overtime to take up as many nutrients as possible to showcase lush growth as it warms.
How you cut your lawn influences not only curbside appeal but the overall health of the plant. This article explores helpful lawn mowing tips to keep your grass looking its best.
First off, mowing your lawn needs to be done with the proper equipment. Whether a manual mower, electric mower, or gas-powered mower of various sizes is your preference you still need to take care of a few details prior to each cutting.
For starters, be sure your blades are sharp. Sharp blades make a clean cut, while dull blades pull and rip- damaging the plant. Tips that have been torn will turn yellow or brown as they die back and give a sparse look to your lawn. On average, you should sharpen your blades every 20 to 25 hours of work. You can either bring it to a maintenance store to have done or do it yourself with a flat metal file.
Clean Off Your Lawn
Before getting started, consider that you are using a powerful machine that rotates at a high rate of speed. Take a walk over your lawn and remove any sticks, stones, dog and kid toys, or other debris that could tangle in your blade, damage your blade, or break and turn into a projectile.
Rocks and other hard objects were thrown by a spinning blade that may reach speeds over 200 mph and be damaging to nearby structures or vehicles. If they hit a person they can cause serious injury or even death.
Best Time of Day to Cut
Your lawn is in a constant state of growth during growing season and so you need to pay attention to both moisture and heat of the day. If you regularly water your grass in the morning or receive regular rainfall, you may want to wait until it is completely dry before cutting. You won’t harm the grass, but you may clog up your mower deck and make your lawnmower less efficient. Wet grass may even stop all operations until you clean it out. Wet clumps of grass that accumulate and fall will suffocate and kill the grass it falls upon, so be sure to get those picked up if you notice them.
Any time you prune a plant you cause it stress. Even though most grasses are pretty durable, essentially cutting them is stressing them out, and you want to provide the best environment for recovery. If you mow your lawn in the heat of the day or in direct sunlight your grass will lose more water and recover more slowly than if you cut in a cooler time of the day or wait until areas of your lawn are shaded by vegetation.
Cutting New Grass
If your grass is new, whether you seeded or layed down turf, you will need to follow one simple rule to ensure healthy root growth before cutting. Mainly, wait until your grass is at least 3 ½ inches, or more in height. Even though new grass may grow unevenly as their root systems take hold and begin to establish, hold off evening your lawn out.
When cutting your lawn you want to avoid ‘scalping’ it, or cutting too short. Keep in mind that you should wait until a well-established lawn is about 3-4 inches in height and then take only ⅓ off at each cutting- essentially keeping it at or near 3 inches.
Since your lawn height is directly related to root depth and health, cutting too short will stunt root growth and result in a poorly developed lawn. Cutting a little at a time and cutting more often is better than allowing your grass to grow long and then cut a lot all at once.
Mowing in Patterns
Avoid mowing your lawn the same way each time. Try to establish a pattern of going back and forth and then rotating the direction of the cut each time you mow to keep from forming ruts and compacting the soil. Soil compaction can actually weaken your grasses and influence weed growth that thrive in less than ideal conditions.
Grass Clippings and What to Do With Them
Most people gather up their grass clippings to toss in a compost pile or garbage bag but consider allowing clippings to fall naturally every so often. If you are only cutting about an inch when you mow and allow it to fall back into the lawn, you are practicing grasscycling.
This allows your lawn to be naturally fertilized and can apply up top 25% of your fertilization needs – saving you money in the long run. You can also use a mulching blade to help create smaller pieces that decompose even faster for quicker nutrient release.
Sun vs. Shade
A detail many people often overlook is grass length from sunny to shady areas. The grass is more easily able to photosynthesis in the sun, so keeping it short doesn’t much affect this process. But when you have grass in a consistently shady area, you may want to consider allowing it to grow a little longer to create an increase in surface area for conducting photosynthesis. This will result in a healthier looking lawn in those areas.
Cutting Along an Edge
When mowing along the edge of a driveway, walkway, or sidewalk, roll one wheel of the lawnmower along this edge rather than on the grass. This will help create a clean looking cut and will save you from having to use an edger or string trimmer.
Cutting on a Hillside
Mowing slopes can be quite tricky, and the important thing to remember is to make sure it is dry before cutting. A wet hillside can cause slipping of both a mower and a person using it, which could result in a very dangerous situation.
Always be sure to use the mower across the slope, rather than up and down, and if it particularly steep, or small in nature, consider the use of a string trimmer instead.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful in planning your lawn mowing strategies for a well-manicured yard. Keeping a maintained lawn mower and applying some simple rules to your own cutting can help result in a lush, healthy-looking lawn.
Be sure to allow your lawn to grow properly before cutting to support a deep, healthy root system, and let your clippings fall as fertilizer from time to time. Also, take into account the times of day you cut as well as your shade vs sun ratio to ensure your grasses are getting the light they need to thrive.
If you have any comments or other tips you would like to mention, please do so below. And, as always, please share!