It seems simple right? Start up your lawnmower and start pushing it through your lawn, laying down an even path of freshly cut grass in your wake. While it can be that easy, mowing a lawn properly involves a few good practices to provide the best opportunity for your lawn to grow more and leave your landscape looking amazing.
A handful of lawn problems can arise due to poor mowing practices such as root damage from mowing too short, disease and weeds taking over from improper deck cleaning and blade sharpening, and thatch buildup from improperly collecting large amounts of debris.
We’ll show you how to be on the cutting edge of mowing so you can get it right every time.
Set Your Mower’s Appropriate Height
The first thing to consider before starting your lawnmower and pushing it through an overgrown lawn is to set your mower at the highest preferred setting for your grass type and to cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time. If your grass is super long and tall when you start to mow, you may have to mow it again after several days, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Longer grass blades protect the roots and allow a deeper root system to develop that is better suited to take up water and nutrients from the soil and withstand weeds and disease. Cutting the grass too short, also known as scalping, creates a scenario where your lawn puts the majority of its energy in new growth, not strengthening its root system, creating less of a healthy lawn structure and allowing weeds to muscle their way in.
Mowing Dry Is Best
A wet lawn is not only messier because your blade gets clogged with fresh cut clumps of grass, but it’s also more difficult, because freshly watered soil is much harder to move through, than dry soil. That’s why we recommend the best time of day to mow a lawn is in the early evening. Watering in the early morning is preferred so that the roots can take up most of the water by evening. This will allow you to mow grass that has been properly hydrated without making cuts when temperatures are highest in the day, stressing your lawn. Cutting wet grass can also result in an uneven trim.
Vary Your Mowing Direction
Each time you mow, it’s best to start at a different spot and move in a different direction. If you constantly mow in the same direction, your grass blades can start to lean in one direction and you may even end up with ruts in your lawn. Grass that is mowed from many different directions will force grass blades to stand up straight providing you with a more even surface.
Vary Your Schedule
To ensure your grass is as healthy as possible, it’s best to mow as often as needed for your grass type, growing conditions, growth pattern, and season. Mowing every week or every two weeks on a set day will force your lawn to adapt whether it needs to or not. Grass that is actively growing in the spring, needs more frequent cutting than grass in the summer or fall when growth slows. If you just like the look of a fresh cut or want to remove leaves and other debris that collect in our grass blades, you can mow as long as the mower deck isn’t set too low to cause damage.
New Lawns Need Extra Time
If you’ve just finished spreading grass seed or you’ve just laid new sod, you’ll want to wait several weeks until the grass is properly rooted and the watering schedule can be turned down without causing damage to new growth. To test if your sod is ready to mow, you can gently pull up on the sod to check whether or not it has rooted.
New grass seed will take longer to mature than sod, so its best to wait until the majority of the seed has filled in your soil. Some areas may not mature as quickly, which you can reseed after your first mow. As a general guide, here’s how tall your grass should be before mowing for the first time:
Bahia: 2-2 ½ inches
Bermuda: 1½-2 inches
Bluegrass: 2-2½ inches
Centipede: 1½-2 inches
Fescue: 2-3 inches
Perennial Ryegrass: 2-3 inches
Zoysia: 1-2 inches
Not sure what type of grass you have? You’re not alone, not by a long shot. Check out our Grass Type Identifier article, which will help you identify your grass based on ZIP code and region.
Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp
Dull mower blades can tear up grass, causing rough, brown edges, making them more susceptible to disease and insect damage. By keeping your blade sharp, you’ll have cleaner cuts and finer clippings without bogging down your mower deck and leaving clumps of grass behind your tracks. It’s also best to wash your mower after each use to help prevent weed seeds and other disease from being transferred from sections of your lawn to the entire surface.
Final Lawn Care Reminders
Flip flops can be comfortable, especially in the summer, but its best to give them a rest when you mow and use close toed shoes or boots. Keep an eye out for pets and children, especially if you have a loud mower. Wear sunglasses or some other eye-covering to protect your eyes from any debris that might shoot up while you mow. When mowing on a slope, move side to side instead of up and down.