How to Mow a Lawn ProperlyReading time: 7 minutes
Summertime is lawn season. Your lawn needs regular mowing to stay healthy, but there are some key items you need to know about mowing that go beyond how to start up your mower. We will cover everything you need to know about proper mowing practices and provide lawn mowing tips so that you can achieve the lushest, healthiest lawn on the block!
TYPE OF GRASS
Your lawn care will depend on the kind of grass you have as each responds a bit differently and has different characteristics. The most common types of grass you see in western Canada are Kentucky bluegrass, Ryegrass and Tall Fescue. These types are cool-season grasses and these versatile types can flourish in cold winters and moderate summers, providing lush grass no matter how chilly it gets out there.
SHARPEN YOUR MOWER BLADES
Electric mowers (cord or cordless), gas or push mowers can all do the trick as long as you keep your lawnmower blades sharp. Dull blades will tear the grass, rather than getting a clean-cut and this can damage the grass. If the blade is dull and ends up tearing the grass, your lawn becomes extremely susceptible to disease. It also gives your lawn an unsightly appearance. Before you even get to the first mow of the season be sure to take your blade in to be sharpened so it is ready to cut the grass, not shred it. This will ensure your lawn looks beautiful and is healthy with every mow.
Mowing frequency will depend on the type of grass you have and the time of year. In the spring and summer, lawns should be mowed every 5-7 days to keep the grass at a good height. In the fall, lawns can be mowed every 10-14 days. The ideal height for your lawn will depend on the type of grass you have, but as a general rule of thumb, you should never remove more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blades in a single mowing. This ensures that your lawn will stay green and healthy.
If you let your grass grow too long before mowing, not only will it be more difficult to push your mower through, but it can also lead to scalping- where the blades are cut so short that the crown and stems are exposed. This puts stress on the plant and can make it susceptible to disease. On the other hand, if you mow too infrequently, the grass can become choked by itself.
CONDITIONS FOR MOWING
If it just rained or you just watered your lawn then you need to put the mower away until it's dry. You should always avoid mowing wet grass if possible. The extra moisture can dull your mower blades and cause tearing instead of cutting, which will result in unhealthy grass! If you must go through this trouble of mowing the lawn while wet then take it easy on the gas so as not to stress out those sensitive plant tissues even more than they already are. It's always recommended to wait to mow at least until things have had time enough to dry out again - especially since pushing a heavy machine across these types of surfaces can be extremely difficult.
The best time of day to mow a lawn is usually in the early evening. Avoid mowing during mid-day and when it has been too hot and dry for too long. When the weather forecast shows several weeks of high heat with little to no rain, that is your sign to put the mower away to give your grass the chance to survive. When temps hit extreme highs your grass has a built-in defence mechanism. Your grass will enter a dormant state to preserve energy, which is basically like the lawn is 'going to sleep'. This happens every year during the winter months when there isn't a lot of nutrients or moisture but will also occur during the summer months when it is too hot. When the lawn goes dormant it shuts down and turns brown in order to conserve its water and nutrients. It is crucial that you do not add extra stress to the lawn during this time by mowing.
By leaving some of your cut grass on your lawn rather than bagging or raking them, you can return nutrients to the soil in your lawn. As clippings compost, they slowly release much-needed nitrogen into the grass. You can mow without a bag or spread some of your lawn clippings, but if you have a mulch setting on your mower or a mulching mower, use it as they will cut the clippings more finely which promotes faster decomposition.
Too much grass clippings or mulching at the wrong time of year can lead to thatch build-up though, so you only want to mulch occasionally. Don’t mulch when your grass isn’t growing well. During late autumn and in the heat of mid-summer, your lawn can go dormant and does not grow much. During these times, decomposition slows as well, so don’t add to your mulch.
Your first mowing should be at a height of approximately 1.5 inches. This allows sunlight and water to penetrate the lawn more easily when it is starting to get going for the season in spring. In the following weeks, raise your mower one notch at a time until you reach a mowing height between 2.5 and 3 inches. This length helps shade your root system and provides more leaf surface for your lawn to manufacture its own food. This proper height also helps your lawn retain its moisture during the warmer summer months. A big thing to note when mowing your lawn is never to remove more than 1/3 of the blade. Mowing any more than this will shock and stress new grass plants, slowing down the growth of your lawn.
Mowing your lawn in different directions each time can help the grass grow more evenly and can also help to prevent diseases. If you always mow in the same direction, the grass on one side of your lawn will be much taller than the grass on the other side. This is not only an eyesore, but it can also cause problems with moisture and sunlight reaching the soil. By mowing in different directions, you are helping to keep the grass blades more even in height, which leads to a healthier lawn. Mowing in different directions each time also helps keep your blade from dulling more quickly than it would if you mowed the same direction every time.
MOWING AS THE SEASON END
As the summer season winds down, start to reduce the height of your mower gradually so your last mowing is at a height of 1.5 inches once again. This will reduce any snow mould and help your lawn green up quickly next spring.
Mowing is an important part of lawn care, and there are a few best practices you can follow to get the most out of your mowing routine. We’ve shared some tips for mowing that should help you keep your lawn looking its best. If you need help getting your lawn to that perfect shade of green, our team at Green Drop is here to help. Check out our packages and easily book your service online today! We are always ready to help you achieve a beautiful, healthy lawn.