You might think that mowing your lawn is simple.
Well, you’d be right.
The actual mowing is simple, but when and how you do it is a little more complicated.
Mowing your lawn correctly is the best way to achieve lush green grass. Some people get focused on fertilizing and killing weeds without realizing that a lot of their lawn problems can be solved by…
You guessed it.
Here is everything you need to know in order to mow your lawn the right way and get the green lawn you’ve always wanted.
The length you cut your grass is everything
Lawn height alone can affect the entire health of your lawn.
Let’s cut to the chase of grass height with the essentials.
Scalping is usually done on accident by people who mean well.
Scalping a lawn means you’ve cut the grass so short that the stems of the grass blades are exposed. This is usually done by using the lowest setting on the lawnmower.
However, there are a few times when scalping might be appropriate for your lawn.
Some types of grass, like Bermuda, are dormant in the winter. Scalping your grass in the early spring, after the danger of frost passes, can kickstart your grass to start growing.
Frost can really damage a scalped lawn so make sure the weather is warm enough before you set your lawnmower to its lowest setting.
It may also help protect against lawn diseases and help your soil get more sunlight.
For the most part, however, you should avoid scalping your lawn. Although scalping allows more sunlight to get to the soil, that also means that more sunlight is getting to the weeds.
Weeds are a common nuisance for scalped lawns thanks to the added sunlight they get from the shorter grass.
If the grass is longer, it receives all the sunlight while the shaded weeds beneath get deprived of it, causing them to die
So, if you have a weed problem check the length of your grass. You may have just solved the problem.
Grass that is too short doesn’t have a strong root system either.
What does that mean?
It means your grass will be more damaged by droughts or high temperatures.
Adjust the Mower Height
Now that you know about scalping, we can talk about the proper height to cut your lawn.
The general length your lawn should be is about 2 ½ inches.
The rule of 2 ½ inches isn’t concrete.
If you think that your grass looks better at 3 inches then keep it there.
Just keep in mind that you should only be cutting about ⅓ of the grass’s length each time you mow.
Here’s a helpful tip:
When in doubt, choose a higher setting on your lawnmower.
It’s always better to leave the grass longer than cut it too short (see scalping above).
Especially in the summer.
Short grass can be negatively affected by hot weather because it scorches the grass’s roots and gives much-needed sunlight to dormant weeds.
Longer grass is better at retaining water so there’s not as much evaporation when you water the grass. It also has deeper roots which help the grass in times of drought.
It’s alright to cut the grass a little shorter as the weather cools down or before it gets into the heat of summer, though.
Some people like to lower their mower height to cut their grass short right before the first snowfall in late autumn. This is done as a protective measure against snow mold as you cut the grass for the last time before winter.
It’s easy to get into a habit and start mowing your lawn the exact same way each time you mow.
As far as habits go, this is one you can avoid.
Mix up the way you mow.
Go vertical, horizontal, and then maybe try diagonal for kicks.
Mixing up the direction that you mow your lawn helps to eliminate the risk of soil compaction and creating grooves or ruts in the grass.
Compacted soil means there is not enough air in the soil and it becomes packed down. This prevents your grass from growing because it isn’t strong enough to get through the compacted soil.
The biggest problem?
There are several kinds of weeds that thrive in compacted soil.
Light and airy soil are always better.
You can aerate your lawn if you have a compaction problem.
Grasscycling is a good way to add some extra nutrients to your lawn and save yourself from some hard work.
All you need to do is take the bag off of your lawnmower and let the grass clippings fall on your lawn.
You’ll save yourself some work by not having to empty the bag all the time!
Grasscycling also provides your lawn with some free fertilizer as the grass clippings decompose.
This can meet 25% of your lawn’s fertilizer needs.
Talk about bang for your buck.
You might be annoyed at the grass clippings all over your nice looking lawn, but try to get past that and think about the time, effort, and money you’re saving when you grasscycle.
Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp
This is all too often overlooked.
Your lawnmower blade needs to be sharp in order to keep your lawn healthy.
A sharp mower blade will cut the grass cleanly. A dull mower blade will create a jagged edge.
Jagged edges not only look worse, but they’re problematic because they create openings for diseases and pests to take root.
A sign of jagged edges:
You’ll start to notice the grass blade tips turning white or brown in color.
White or brown tipped grass blades could be avoided by keeping your mower’s blades sharpened.
Lawns should mostly be mowed when the weather is warm and sunny.
…and never mow in the rain!
Not only is mowing in the rain dangerous, it can also clog up your lawnmower and cause a lot of problems.
Lawns are mowed more often in the summertime because that’s when grass grows the most. Of course, it goes without saying that you also shouldn’t mow your lawn in the winter when there is snow on the ground.
Wait until the weather is good, but not too hot to do your mowing.
When to Mow Your Lawn
You can start mowing your lawn as soon as the snow melts, although it might not be growing quite yet.
Ultimately, how often you need to mow your lawn depends on how quickly it grows.
Since you should only be cutting the top ⅓ of the grass’s length off when you mow, you’ll have to wait and see how quickly that part grows back.
Typically, this means you should mow about once a week.
You’ll need to mow your lawn at the right time of day as well.
Mid-morning is the best time to mow your lawn.
Mowing your lawn too early means that you run the risk of dew-covered grass which can clog your mower just like cutting rain-drenched grass.
Cutting wet grass also leaves leaves behind mower wheel tracks that look anything but presentable.
Wait until the sun starts to get warmer to get rid of any dew, usually around 8-11 am.
Of course, you shouldn’t wait too long! Mowing in the heat of the day will put stress on the grass, your lawnmower, and you.
Mow your grass around 6-8 pm if you prefer to mow in the evenings after the sun has cooled off but before it gets dark.
So, for the best time of day to mow? You’ve got two options:
Mid-morning between 8-11 am, after any dew has evaporated and it’s not as hot as it will be later in the afternoon.
Around 6-8 pm in the evening is another option. You won’t have to worry about dew, and it’s generally cooler out which makes the chore less taxing for you.
Did You Make the Cut?
How and when you mow your lawn plays a gigantic role in the overall health of your lawn.
Make sure you do it right!
Adjust your mower height and make sure you mow at the right times. You’ll be glad you did when you have a beautiful, green lawn all Summer long.
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