One of the secrets to a nice, full, green lawn (besides seeding, fertilizing and watering, of course) is in how you approach mowing it. When it comes to mowing your lawn, even little things affect how your grass will look.
Armed with these six tips, your lawn will look its best and be easier to care for this summer and for summers to come!
Make sure your mower blade is sharp
A dull blade tends to rip the grass rather than cutting it clean. The ends will then dry out, giving your lawn a dull look. It also invites pests into your yard. It’s always a good idea to sharpen the blade during a mower tune-up at the beginning of spring.
Mow when your grass tells you to… not when the calendar does
Some people mow every Saturday like clockwork. Different types of grass thrive at different heights. Optimal height for cool-season grasses is 3-3.5 inches high; for warm-season grasses it’s 2-2.5 inches. You should allow it to grow one-third taller than its optimum height, then cut it back to that height. As the summer wears on, your grass will grow more slowly and you will not need to mow as often until it becomes dormant in the fall.
Your mower works best at a certain speed and it’s usually best to err on the side of moving more slowly. Also, don’t skimp on mower coverage. There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re mowing than seeing a high strip appear after you just passed over it. Overlap each pass by at least three or four inches. While this may mean about five extra minutes mowing time, it ensures that you won’t have to make another pass because the grass is uneven.
Vary your mowing pattern
Grass will lean and tends to grow in the direction that it has been mowed. If you mow in the same clockwise pattern every time, your grass will grow in that pattern. Mowing in the same direction every time tends to compact the soil, which can cause visible ruts to form in your lawn. If you change the direction that you mow each time, your grass will grow more upright and you can avoid those nasty ruts.
Cut grass when it’s dry
Cutting wet grass is hard on your lawn and on your equipment. Wet grass clogs the mower and causes the blade to slow down, which gives you an uneven cut. When the grass is wet, it tends to lay in clumps or mat up, which blocks light to the newly mown grass.
To bag or not to bag
That is the question. There are schools of thought that say to collect the clippings, which will help you to avoid thatch. But clippings don’t cause thatch. If you are cutting no more than 1/3 of the grass’s height, not bagging the clippings is beneficial to your lawn. The cut grass decomposes quickly and returns nutrients to the soil.