Mowing your lawn isn’t just an annoying yard chore, it’s a vital component of lawn care. If you aren’t mowing perfectly right, you are hampering your grass’s ability to grow healthily, which means you probably won’t get the lush, green lawn you expect. In fact, it’s likely that you are committing at least one major mowing mistake — but which one? Check the list below to learn more about mowing.
The larger your lawn is, the larger your lawn mower needs to be. A push mower might be convenient if you have a few square feet of lawn, but if you are trying to push-mow your acre property, you are bound to make mistakes that hamper your lawn’s health. On the other hand, there is no reason for you to invest in a lawn tractor if the space required to store it is larger than the lawn itself. If you aren’t sure what make and model you need, talk to a lawn mower expert, who will evaluate the size of your lawn, the terrain, the obstacles and more.
Different varieties of grass need to be mowed at different heights to stay healthy. As a rule of thumb, warm-season grasses (like Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass) like to be shorter, around a half-inch, whereas cool-season grasses (like tall fescue and bluegrass) like to be longer, between three and four inches. I called a lawn service near me to help identify my lawn type and diagnose an ideal lawn height.
Even so, it might not be a good idea to lop your lawn to this height all at once. If your lawn is overgrown, you need to incrementally reduce its height to avoid shocking the grass to death. You should never remove more than one-third of a plant at one time, and this includes grass.
It matters how often you mow your lawn. Mowing more frequently often helps grass stay at its optimal height, but mowing too much can cause too much strain on the grass, killing portions of it. During the growing seasons — which is summer for warm-season lawns and spring/fall for cool-season lawns — you should be mowing your lawn at least once per week. When the grass is dormant during winter, you shouldn’t mow at all. This way, you can allow your lawn to thicken up, but you won’t attack it when it’s weak.
There’s an old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t run your mower at full speed because it shortens its life span. However, you better believe that mower manufacturers have thought of this; in fact, they have developed engines that require higher RPMs for optimal mowing. Thus, going slower doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better cut or a longer-lived mower — it might mean the opposite.
Just as your kitchen knives need sharpening every so often, your lawn mower blades will get dull over the course of a mowing season. Trying to cut grass with dull blades is a bad idea; more often, you are likely to rip and tear your lawn, causing jagged edges that are difficult for the plant to heal. As a result, your lawn is much more susceptible to infection, which could kill it dead.
In spring, before you need your mower, you should sharpen your blades. You can do this at home with the right set of tools for sharpening mechanical edges, but it’s generally a better idea to send your blades to a qualified lawn mower expert in your area.
After you mow your lawn, you want to go inside and veg. Unfortunately, you can’t; you need to clean your mower. The underside of your mower quickly becomes clogged with grass clippings and other debris, and the moisture from your lawn can corrode the metal components of your mower, reducing its lifespan. You should look in your mower’s manual to learn how to clean it properly.
You need to water your lawn to help it grow, but you shouldn’t schedule waterings and mowings on the same day. Slick, moist grass doesn’t give you or your mower much traction, which means the environment might be dangerous to handle dangerous machinery. Additionally, the moisture in the grass can cause clippings to clump together, making cleaning your mower more difficult and increasing the likelihood of damage to your equipment. You should try to mow ahead of a rainstorm or your scheduled sprinklers.
Mowing is part art, part science — meaning there are definitely right and wrong ways to get the chore done. If you don’t follow these simple rules, you could end up with a busted lawn mower, a dead lawn or worse — injury to yourself or loved ones. Be smart and safe with your lawn mower, and everyone including your lawn will be happy.