Lawn Mowing Tips

The lawn mowing tips below will make a huge difference in the health and appearance of your lawn.

Lawn Mowing Tips

1. Mow often.  In the spring mow your lawn twice a week to keep up with growth.

2. Remove 1/3 or less of the grass-blade when mowing.  Removing 1/3 or less of the grass-blade minimizes stress on your lawn.

If your lawn is overgrown raise the mower 2-3 notches before mowing.  A few days later mow at the proper height to decrease stress.  The worst thing you can do to an overgrown lawn is scalp it like a hay-field.

3. Mow high.  Set your mower at 2.5″ for the first mowing of the season.  Mowing lower the first cut helps grind up winter debris.

Raise the mower a notch each mowing until you reach 3.5 – 4″.  Tall grass means deeper roots that reach into the soil for moisture.  Tall grass also shades out weeds such as crabgrass and chickweed.

Lower your mower a notch at a time as leaf cleanup season arrives.

4. Keep mower blades sharp. Grass cut with a sharp blade cleanly cuts the grass-blade.  Grass cut with a dull blade tears the grass-blade.

 You can tell how sharp a mower blade is by looking at the lawn from a distance.  If you see a brown cast the blades are dull.

Start the season with a sharp mower blade.  After the first few cuts, sharpen the blade again.  Mower blades often gets nicked or dulled the first few cuts of the season.  Then, sharpen your mower blade half way through the season.

Keep two sets of mower blades so you have a sharp blade available when you need one.

Lawn Mowing Tips Picture

5. Leave clippings on the lawn.  Grass clippings return much-needed nitrogen to your lawn.  Some people believe grass clippings create thatch.  They don’t. Over fertilizing lawns kills microbes that break down thatch.  Removing more than 1/3 of the grass-blade creates more thatch than microbes can break down.

6. Mow late in the afternoon.  The cooler temperatures and higher humidity during the night reduce stress from mowing.

7. Mow when grass is dry.  Mowing wet grass encourages the spread of disease.  Mowing wet grass also pushes grass over leaving a ragged cut.  Finally, mowing wet grass leaves unsightly clumps that make a mess of everything.  Wait for you lawn to dry before mowing.

8. Alternate mowing patterns.  Mow your lawn in a different direction weekly to prevent pushing grass-blades over and prevent ruts.  Alternate mowing direction at 90 and 45 degree angles .

Lawn Mowing Tips - Lawn Mowing Angles Graphic
Vary the direction you mow weekly by alternating between perpendicular and angular patterns.

9. Use a mulching blade.   Mulching mower blades cut clippings into fine pieces before leaving the mower deck.  This is the only type of mower blade I recommend.

The lawn mowing tips above take a little extra effort from your mowing crew or the designated mower of the house (You know who you are).  While it’s OK to break the rules once in a while the closer you can come to them the better your lawn will look.

Happy mowing!

How to Renovate a Lawn

In this video I show you how to renovate a lawn using a tool called a Rotodairon.

If your lawn is not growing well look at the big picture to see what is causing the trouble.

Some, of the many, causes of a poor lawn are:

  • Sandy soil
  • Too much shade
  • Soil has a low ph
  • Soil has a high ph
  • Low organic matter content
  • Buried debris under the soil
  • Too damp of an area
  • Too dry of an area
  • Mowing too short
  • Too many tree roots (Please don’t cut them all, there’s a better solution.)

The key is to look around and figure out why your lawn isn’t growing well and don’t make assumptions.  This is a situation where like Joe Friday says you have to look at, “Just the facts.”

If you have any questions about lawn renovation please post them below.

By John Holden

How to Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn

A few hours aerating your lawn this weekend will give benefits for a long time.

Why should I aerate?

Aerate your lawn if you have compacted soil, the grass is getting thin or you would like to overseed with a more vigorous type of seed.

When should I aerate?

I prefer to aerate from late summer to early fall because grass can set up before the heat and drought of the following summer.  Aerate an established lawn every two to three years, yearly for a poor lawn until you get it back under control.

What type of aerator do you recommend?

You can rent an aerator for the day or a few hours at most rental centers.  If you have a small lawn a few hours is all you need.  Aerators are heavy.  Have a friend help you load and unload the machine.

There are many different types of aerators.  Some have hollow tines which move up and down to punch holes in your lawn, some have a drum with hollow tines that remove cores from your lawn and some are a solid drum with solid tines that you pull behind a tractor.  I recommend a machine that removes a core and is easy to maneuver.

What type of grass seed do you recommend?

There are many types of grass seed and just as many types of lawns.  Grass seed mixes for our climate here in Connecticut include ‘Landscapers Mix’ or ‘Sun and Shade Mix’.  These mixes have bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue for a nice lawn.

Avoid ‘Contractor Mix’ grass seed which establishes quickly but not give a quality lawn in the long-term.

Do your research before purchasing seed and always buy the best.  The biggest factor in determining you lawns success or failure is the seed you plant.

A word of caution

Before aerating mark all sprinkler heads and wires less than four inches deep.

If you run the aerator over a sprinkler head or wire you may break it.

By John Holden