Everyone can mow their grass, but these 5 tips will take you from mowing like an amateur to mowing like an experienced groundskeeper.
1. Don't mow wet grass.
Mowing your lawn when it is wet is not a good idea for several reasons.
First, the quality of cut will be affected, because it is tougher for the mowing blade to maintain its speed.
This is due to wet clippings clumping together and impeding its progress.
Second, the clumping negatively affects the mower's ability to mulch and chop up the clippings into finer pieces.
Large clumps are then left in the grass for you to rake up, or get stuck inside the deck to bog down your mower even more.
Third, a slower turning mower blade will result in a poor cut quality.
This can also mean your blade is not actually cutting the grass blades, but tearing them in half.
You'll learn why that's really bad later in this article.
If you have to mow wet grass, follow these tips. Reduce the width of your cutting path to half, so less grass is being cut at one time.
Bag your clippings instead of mulching to cut down on clumps being left behind and to reduce excess sticky clippings circulating in the deck.
2. Cut your lawn according to conditions.
Your lawn's height should change as the overall conditions change.
Your lawn height should be longer during times of stress and shorter, if desired, during more normal and optimum growing conditions.
Some typical stresses and risks for your lawn include drought, disease, recovering from transplant (sod), and newly planted / growing grass.
Longer grass will allow root systems to more fully develop so your lawn is more drought resistant.
Longer grass also allows for less sun penetration to the soil.
This means your soil doesn't dry out as quickly, weeds don't get sunlight as they try to break through, and the grass can partially shade itself from the sun's intense rays.
So, be aware of your conditions. If you want short grass, make sure the weather and the current health of your lawn supports it. If it doesn't, let it grow a little bit more.
3. Cut your grass using the 150% rule.
The length you cut your grass is very important, so always cut your grass at or before it reaches 150% of your desired cutting height.
This can also be called the 1/3 rule, meaning don't cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow your lawn.
So, if you want 1 inch grass, cut it when it reaches or before it reaches 1.5 inches.
Cutting off too much of the grass leaf during mowing causes shock to the plant, resulting in halted growth.
This shock can also leave your grass open to more damage from conditions, disease, and lead to a thinning lawn.
If your grass grows fast and you don't want to be out mowing all the time, consider choosing a longer length for your lawn.
You'll have more time between mowing and you won't be jeopardizing the health of your lawn.
4. Mulch your clippings, bag when necessary.
You should always try to mulch instead of bag your clippings.
This returns valuable nutrients to your lawn, promoting thicker healthier grass.
But, if you're not adhering to the 150% rule (1/3 rule), you might not be helping your lawn.
If you've let your grass grow too long and end up cutting more than 1/3 of the grass's length, you run the risk of having large clippings blocking sunlight to your remaining living grass.
In this situation, it is better to bag your clippings, or even rake your lawn, if necessary.
Short, finely cut grass clippings make great fertilizer for your lawn.
They are better able to fall between the remaining blades of grass to the soil bed to be absorbed.
If you are unable to mulch or you can't have visible clippings, you should definitely bag.
5. Keep your mower blade sharp
This may be number 5, but it is extremely important to keep your lawn mower's blade sharp.
It greatly affects the quality of your cut and therefore affects the quality of your lawn's health.
Grass is a plant and you are basically pruning every blade of it when you mow your lawn.
A sharp blade produces a clean cut that seals quickly. A dull blade, tears through a blade of grass leaving a ragged edge.
The shredded top left by a dull mower blade will brown, and if all of your grass is ragged, the overall color quality of your lawn will be impacted.
Not only will the look be affected, but the grass blade will have a large open wound better allowing disease to enter it.
The ragged edged cut to your grass leaf can also cause shock to the plant, impacting its resiliency and growth.
To rehash, a sharp blade creates a crisp, clean cut that will seal quickly and allow the plant to get back to its business of growing.
A sharp blade is also necessary when mulching to chop clippings into finer pieces fit for lawn mulch.
To check to see if your blade is sharp enough, inspect your lawn after mowing.
Look closely at the tops of blades of grass that have been cut. Are they ragged or are they cut cleanly?
If they are ragged, it's time to sharpen or replace your lawn mower blade.
Conclusion & Your Thoughts
Hopefully these 5 tips will get you on your way to better mowing and a better, healthier lawn. Article by David Gottschall.
Do you have any tips to add? Let us know and we might include them right below here. E-mail us at [email protected].