The spring season is upon us and with it comes a whole world of fresh cut grass smells and vibrant green lawns. Maybe you’ve had some trouble in the past trying to keep your lawn in ideal shape despite following all the necessary precautions with fertilizer and pest control. Then again, you could also be someone who just needs a bit of a refresher on how to best cut your lawn.
Regardless, there are a few techniques you need to know to not only save you precious time, but also make your lawn look fantastic. Before you start cutting though it’s best to come up with a plan of attack, and before even this you need to get the right mower that’ll work for you.
Before you can start cutting, you need to make sure you have the machine that works for your lawn. A push mower wouldn’t be great for an acre size area, nor would a riding mower work for a small space. What you pick might not seem like a big deal, but can greatly alter how you mow.
In terms of most affordable there is the regular push mower. These mowers require no oil, gas, or any fiddling with parts as their propulsion is reliant on you. While they lack many of the features and capabilities of other mowers, they are the most environmentally friendly and work superbly on flat small areas.
Up from here are the traditional gas models – these are by far the most common place. Some of these machines can be self-propelled, but others require just a little bit of muscle work. These are great for average sized lawns and as long as they are properly maintained, will last many years.
Electrical mowers are a step up in price and have long been overshadowed by their gas counterparts. The reason for this that while they are effective and lightweight, they either have a short battery life or require an extension cord to use. Recently with lithium battery technology electrical mowers have become much more viable.
Regardless, expect only about an hour of solid cutting time with these machines, making them better suited for smaller lawns. The priciest of the mowers is the riding variant. These large machines excelle in larger lawns, but are bit of overkill in smaller ones, and can actually hamper effectiveness. If there are a lot of tight corners in your lawn, a zero turn riding mower would be the best course of action.
After you pick the machine to use but before you actually start cutting the lawn, you need to know a little bit of information. First you need to know what type of grass you have – this will greatly determine the required height. Colder season grasses, such as bermuda and zoysia, like to be cut from anywhere around 2 ½” and 3 ½”. Warm season grasses, such as bahia and St. Augustine, like a cut anywhere from 1” to 3”.
When scheduling your mowing don’t worry so much as the date, but rather the height of the lawn. Grass doesn’t grow uniformly even through the same season, so it’s a bit silly to have a set lawn mowing day.From here, you’re going to want to remove any obstacles in the lawn and carefully pinpoint any stumps or rocks that you can run over. This will not only save you time when mowing, but also save you from potentially mangling your lawn mower blade.
Don’t cut during the heat of the day, as this will cause undue stress on the grass and you. Also avoid cutting when the grass is wet, as this can make uneven cuts and clog the mower.
After you’ve done the necessary prep work, you need to know how to cut the grass in the best way. While you want your grass to be at a certain level, you don’t want to cut too much.
A good rule of thumb is never to cut more than ⅓ of the height at any given time – anything more than this and you can end up shearing the lawn. This can cause damage to the grass and root system in the form of brown spots and even lawn disease. To better avoid any tearing of the grass, make sure the blades stay sharp.
When you are cutting make sure to mix up your mowing pattern from week to week, this will help the grass grow straighter and avoid any ruts and divets in the lawn.
To save you some time and headache, try doing some overlap when cutting. You’re going to want a few inches over each section so you don’t get any unsightly strips. Also keep your eyes focused about 10 feet ahead so you mow straighter.
You’re going to want to move at a comfortable walking gait, slowing down in case of especially thick grass – anything faster and you risk ripping. If you have any sharp corners, try to round them off and come back to them after you’ve done everything else – this allows you to keep moving without making constant awkward adjustments in the mower’s direction.
While most mowers come with a bagger nowadays, most lawn care experts advocate to ditch it. Grass clippings provide an important amount of nutrients to the lawn. If necessary, redistribute any mounds of grass clumps that have a tendency to happen from time to time. For any grass that has been seeded recently you should wait at least a month before you cut it, and only after it has grown a bit past its desired height.
Many of these mowing techniques can be seamlessly incorporated into your mowing and can greatly improve overall lawn appearance. If you have a smaller lawn and looking for something environmentally friendly, a typical push mower is an inexpensive option.
For those that have something a bit larger but still don’t want to mess with oil and gas, there are many good electric mowers available that will work great. Larger lawns should nonetheless use gas models as these machines are much stronger and go further than others.
Just make sure you are mindful when you do cut the grass. Find out what type of grass you have, and keep it varied in terms of how you cut. Everything from how fast you move the lawn mower to the patterns that you follow can either help or hamper you. Following these tips will not only give you the luscious green lawn you’ve always wanted, but save you hours of sweaty work.
I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.