The sun is out, the days are getting warmer, and everything is turning green—which means it’s time to start mowing your lawn again.
Mowing is one of the most important parts of lawn maintenance, and how you do it will determine the health of your lawn and its appearance. To keep your lawn lush, green, and looking good, you need to mow properly. Follow these tips for a perfect, professionally maintained looking lawn.
#1. Use Sharp Blades
Before you even pull the lawnmower out of the garage, make sure that the mower blades are nice and sharp. Dull blades tear up the top of the grass, leaving frayed edges that turn brown. Frayed edges also allow organisms that cause the disease to enter, which can leave patches of your lawn looking dull and dead instead of green and healthy. Grass leaves with torn edges are also more prone to water loss, which means you’ll have to increase your watering routine. Using sharp blades decreases the amount of time you’ll have to spend otherwise on maintaining your lawn, and will give it a uniform, crisp, clean look.
#2. Cut Early, or Late
The best time to mow is in the morning right after the dew has dried before the sun has reached its hottest point. Having hot rays of late morning sun beating down on a newly cut lawn can stress out the grass and increase drying.
Another good time to cut your lawn is in the evening, right before the sun goes down.
#3. Leave it Tall
It’s tempting to cut as low as possible to minimize how often you’ll have to mow, but doing so sacrifices the health of the grass. Your mower blades should be set to keep grass between two and four inches high, depending on what kind of grass you have. Shorter grass will need to be watered more frequently and fertilized often to keep it looking green. The roots in a short lawn are weak, and the grass is unable to reproduce properly. This leaves holes for more weeds to fill in, and the lawn will be prone to disease and insects.
Taller grass is better able to maintain itself. The roots grow deeper and allow it to survive droughts, and the tall leaves will provide shade to cool it down on hot summer days, reduce water loss, and block the sun over weed seeds trying to take root.
#4. Mow Regularly
By leaving your lawn high, you will need to cut it more often, which is good for your lawn’s health. Growth rates peak in the spring when you might need to mow it every three or four days. You’ll catch a break later in the year as its growth naturally slows down, though, and you’ll probably only need to mow once every week to ten days.
Letting grass get too long is as bad for it as cutting it too short, so it’s important to stay on top of it. Ideally, you’ll want to take a maximum of about a third of a blade off in one mow. If the grass turns yellow, however, it’s better to skip a mow. Yellow grass is not dying but trying to conserve its own energy in hot weather. Letting it grow during this time will avoid adding additional stress.
#5. Don’t Cut Too Fast
The high-speed setting on your riding lawnmower is only for driving to the area that needs to be mowed, not for actual cutting. Mowing at high speeds is a safety hazard, and also produces poorer results. Use medium speed in open areas, and lower speeds when turning corners or trimming edges.
#6. Mow in Different Directions
We tend to go in the same direction every time when we mow, but it’s better to switch it up and alternate directions. This makes the top surface look more even, and prevents the grass from leaning to one side, which leaves it vulnerable to damage from the sun.
#7. Leave the Clippings on the Lawn
Many people collect their clippings when mowing or after they’ve finished, but it’s much better to skip the extra work and leave them on the grass. Don’t worry, they won’t build up; they actually decompose very quickly and reduce the need to fertilize as they are a great source of nutrients.