UGA Lawn & Landscape Research
May 25, 2017
Dealing with Moles on Lawns
June 1, 2017

If you’ve ever been to the ballpark or seen a lush, green golf course, you know just how important it is to mow correctly. Merely running a mower across the surface of your grass at warp speed will not give you a yard that is in the envy of your neighbors. Cutting your grass takes time and effort to do it properly. Following some of these tips can give you a perfectly manicured lawn that will be the crowning glory of your neighborhood.

Cut to the Proper Height

Certain types of grass require different mowing heights. For example, Bermuda grass generally does best with a closely cropped cut than other types of grass. Cut Bermuda lawns to lengths between 3/4-1/12″. Other grasses, such as tall fescues, should be cut between 3-4″ in height. There is a significant difference between the two, so it is essential to know what type of grass you have in your lawn to best determine the best length to cut your grass. Generally speaking, cooler weather grasses should get cut longer, where warmer weather grasses should be more close-cropped. The length can vary throughout the growing season, too. In the early spring, you will want to cut your grass a bit lower than you usually would to remove dead blades. Mowing your lawn to the proper height all season long will help develop healthier, more drought-resistant turf that is also a deterrent to weeds. Avoid “scalping” your lawn at all costs! Cutting too close can cause a number of issues, including soil compaction, brown, dead patches, and more disease and weed-prone grass.

Never Remove More than 1/3 of the Grass Length at One Time

Almost any lawn care website or literature will tell you to make sure you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the height off your grass. This is important because cutting more than that can wreak havoc on the health of your lawn. Grass is a plant, and cutting off too much at one time can stress your turf. Stressing your grass can lead to lower resistance to disease, pests, and weeds.

Use the Right Mower for the Job

Certain types of grass benefit from specific types of mowers. Since Bermuda lawns should ideally be kept extremely short, a reel mower is better suited to cut this type of lawn. Most standard walk behind mowers do not allow the blade to be adjusted much lower than 2″. A reel mower can give you much shorter cutting heights as well as afford the user more control during mowing. While reel mowers typically require more time and effort to use, many people prefer the sharp, clean look of a lawn cut with a reel mower than regular gas-powered walk behind mowers. One of the most popular reel mowers is Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower. If you have a larger yard, a reel mower may not be the most practical one for the job, however. For taller grasses or medium-sized yards, traditional gasoline-powered walk behind mowers are an ideal option. Most of these models allow you to set your blade height to a certain degree. Self-propelled options will enable you to simply guide your mower without really having to put a lot of physical exertion into cutting your grass. Toro, one of the top names in mowers, makes a reasonably-priced walk-behind mower that is great for most medium to large yards. The Toro 20333 senses and adapts to your pace while mowing, so there is no chasing after a self-propelled lawnmower. Robotic lawn mowers are have hit the market recently. They are like the Roomba vacuums for your lawn. Robotic mowers do not create the same clean-cut look that regular mowers do, however. They run in random directions, much like the Roomba vacuum does. When the robotic mowers bump into something like a rock or a tree or your child’s baseball glove left lying around, it turns in the opposite direction. The result is a lawn that is cut in most areas but without the pleasing clean lines of a beautifully manicured lawn.

Some leading manufacturer’s include:

Use a Sharp Blade

If you find your grass looks frayed or grayish or silvery after mowing, you most likely need to sharpen your lawnmower’s blade. A dull blade will thrash your lawn and leave it stressed and more prone to weeds, disease, and pest invasion. It can also merely push your grass down instead of snipping off the top. A sharper blade will create a clean cut without bending the individual blades of grass or causing them to lay down. It is best to sharpen your mower’s blade at least twice during the growing season. This can be done through using a mill bastard file, or you can use a specialized lawn mower blade sharpener.

Change Your Patterns

Avoid mowing in the same direction each and every time. Cutting up and down your lawn in the same direction each time you mow can create soil compaction in areas where the wheels tend to hit while you mow. Alternate paths every week to avoid unsightly stripes up and down your yard.

Avoid Cutting Wet Grass

When grass is wet, it can cause a few different problems during mowing. First of all, wet grass will tend to lay down as the mower goes over it. This will result in uneven cutting all over your yard. Wet grass can also tend to clump, which can clog parts of your mower. Wet grass clumps can also lay on top of freshly cut grass, eliminating sunlight from reaching grass in certain parts of your yard. This can result in brownish-looking spots all over your yard, making it appear sickly looking. While the morning is often considered the best time of day to mow, waiting until the dew has burned off in the sun or until the grass has had a chance to dry out after a rain or watering will garner you the best results.

Leave Clippings on Your Lawn

Unless you are cutting wet grass (which we have already advised against) or cutting off more than 1/3 of your grass’ length (which we have also advised against), you will want to avoid bagging your clippings. Allowing the clippings to drop back into your lawn as you mow is called grasscycling and provides several benefits to your turf. It acts as a natural fertilizer and provides essential nitrogen back into your lawn as you mow. These clippings break down quickly and help promote a vibrant, green lawn.

Mow as Often as Needed

The frequency you will need to mow your lawn will depend a lot upon the time of year and type of grass you have. In the spring, when grass is growing fastest, you may need to mow twice per week. This will prevent you from cutting off too much at one time and is ultimately healthier for your lawn. As the season wears on, you may only need to mow once weekly or even every other week. Let your lawn’s growth guide you on how often you should mow.

Hiring a professional lawn mowing company can help save a lot of time and hassle dealing with mowing–especially in the spring when lawns seem to need more frequent mowing. Many lawn mowing companies will offer a weekly mowing plan which can help save you time and frustration. For a lot of us out there, the prospect of starting up the mower for the year means we will be slaves to our yards at least one day a week for the next several months. It can be a cringe-worthy moment knowing that many hours will be toiled away cutting grass. Professional lawn mowing companies can offer reasonable rates and eliminate a lot of the time and energy required to maintain a showcase-worthy lawn.