Most homeowners may not know it, but improper mowing is one of the most common causes of lawn problems. Luckily, it’s an easy problem to fix. It’s much easier than trying to diagnose a disease or pest problem or remedy mold or weed issues. Custom Lawn and Landscape has put together some basic lawn mowing tips to keep your lawn healthy and looking its best.
1. Don’t Mow Too Often
In the Kansas City area, you will typically find cool-season grasses like fescue, ryegrass, and even some bluegrass. With these types of grasses, most of the growing will occur in spring and fall, and may not be required as frequently in the summer depending on the weather of course.
While there is no set number of days for how long you should go in between mowing these types of grasses, you should mow it often enough so that you do not need to remove any more than 1/3 of the height of the grass to keep it at an optimal length.
Most of the cool season grass lawns in Kansas City should be mowed at 3-1/2 -4 inches. If you have a warm season Zoysia of Bermuda grass lawn, it can be mowed at 1-2 inches. Mowing according to this schedule will help to keep your yard looking fuller, and your grass maintain a healthier root system, while reducing the space and nutrients left behind for weeds.
2. Don’t Mow Too Low
“Scalping” a lawn – or mowing off more than the suggested ⅓ of the height – is the number one lawn care mistake that homeowners make. They do it thinking it will help them mow less often.
What it actually does is leave your lawn prone to weeds and less capable of coping in the event of a drought or other environmental event.
Grasses have a balance between the size of their root systems and length of their blades. When the roots and the grass blades are in balance, the plants will be their healthiest and be able to handle all kinds of stress.
Mowing actually helps make your grass grow thicker because the tip of each blade contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When you cut the lawn, you remove these tips allowing the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.
Related Read: Which Type of Grass Is Right for Your Kansas City Lawn?
TIP: If your grass has gotten really long, don’t try to cut it to its ideal length in one mowing. Adhere to the rule and just mow it to one-third of the grass’ height and then let it recover for three or four days before mowing again.
3. Don’t Cut Wet Grass
Avoid cutting grass when it’s wet. The blades tend to stick together making the cut very uneven. The clippings can clog the mower and they can mat on the grass blocking the sunlight. Your mower’s blades will miss the grass that the wheels have matted down and that grass can pop up later making your lawn look uneven.
Mowing the lawn when it’s wet can also spread any small patches of fungus and can create a disease infestations. Additionally, grass is slippery when it’s wet and mowing is more dangerous especially if you have any inclines in your yard.”
4. Don’t Rush Mowing
Your busy schedule may tempt you to rush through mowing chores, but this measure can leave your grass looking uneven. In addition, hasty mowing can leave uneven clumps of clippings on the lawn, giving it an untidy look.
5. Don’t Mow the Same Way Every Time – Alternate the Pattern
Varying the pattern in which you mow will help to allow the blades to grow straighter and healthier. Grass blades tend to grow in the direction in which they are mowed. Alternating the pattern allows the blades to return to a more upright position. This will also ensure that you don’t develop ruts in your lawn from the mower wheels.
6. Don’t Mow with Dull Mower Blades
Don’t Mow with Dull Mower Blades Make sure your mower blades are sharp. Dull blades will tear instead of cutting cleanly leaving the blades open to diseases and pests to invade them. It’s a good idea to have your blades sharpened every couple of months. If you haven’t had them sharpened in several years, it’s definitely time. (If you happen to be a current customer with us, Custom Lawn offers free blade sharpening!)
7. Don’t Bag Your Grass – Mulch as You Mow
In past decades, homeowners bagged up clippings and threw them away.
However, today, plant experts now recommend leaving the clippings on the grass to act as a mulch to help retain moisture in the soil and add nutrients as the clippings decompose.
Grass clippings can generate up to 30% of your lawn’s nitrogen needs. Leaving the clipping on the grass makes less work for you and provides better growing conditions for your lawn.
As long as you are cutting your lawn with the one-third rule, the clippings should be small enough to rapidly decompose.
If you’re worried about thatch buildup, make sure you discharge your grass on the side you haven’t mowed yet so you can cut the pieces even smaller when you mow over them again.
Or consider a mulching mower or adding a mulching attachment to your current mower, designed to cut the pieces even smaller than regular mowers.
8. Don’t Make Your Rows Too Far Apart
For even coverage, it’s best to overlap each pass by at least three inches. It’s better to overlap than look back and see strips of grass that you missed.
9. Don’t Blow Grass onto Driveways & Sidewalks
Freshly cut grass sticks and stains concrete driveways and sidewalks. Instead of blowing grass onto them, simply change the direction you are mowing on the edges of these hardscapes so the cut grass blows back into the yard. It will keep your yard neat and save you the time of having to blow them clean later.
10. Don’t Buy an Edger
While you certainly can use an edger, why invest in this one trick pony tool when you can use the string-trimmer head in a vertical position to cut clean edges along curbs and walkways.
TIP: You can also hold the trimmer in horizontal position to top off shrubs and hedges. Try to find a natural path to trim and edge in one continuous pass to make your trimming more even.