Landscaping, Hardscaping, Gardening & Curb Appeal Tips

Learn Basic Mowing Techniques

Use this guide to learn the ins and outs or mowing your lawn, including the various types of tools that work best for maintaining your outdoor space.

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Lawn with Wild Garden DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mowing is the most important maintenance job that your lawn requires. Regular mowing encourages healthy new growth and a strong root system to combat drought. It reduces a build-up of pests and diseases, and prevents weeds from seeding in the lawn and flowerbeds. Most importantly, a neatly mown lawn can improve the entire garden and make it look beautiful.

Mowing Guidelines

Spring and Fall:
Utility Lawn: 1 inch (25 mm), once a week
High Quality Lawn: 3/8 to 1/2 inch (8 to 10 mm), once or twice a week

Summer:
Utility Lawn: 1/2 to 1 inch (15 to 20 mm), once a week
High Quality Lawn: 1/4 to 3/8 inch (7 to 8 mm), up to three times a week

Winter:
Utility Lawn: 1-1/4 inch (30 mm), as necessary
High Quality Lawn: 1/2 inch (15 mm), as necessary

Mowing Patterns

Mowing should be done regularly. It's best to remove small amounts of grass often rather than a lot in one cut. When mowing, start by cutting the outside edges first and then mow in straight lines up and down the center. At the ends where the mower is turned, it is worth leaving a double width strip. When the center is finished, these ends should be mown again to tidy up any missed patches — this is known as the "finishing strip." Alternate the direction in which you cut the lawn each time. Otherwise ridges can form, particularly if you are using a mower with an attached roller. Consider mowing the lawn diagonally — this gives a neat finish and is an attractive alternative to going up and down its length. Another interesting alternative is to create a curved line which can be useful when mowing around curved flowerbeds, ponds, and circular patios.

Types of Cut

There are essentially two types of lawnmowers, giving two different types of cut: rotary and cylinder. With both kinds it is essential that the blades are kept sharp and are balanced properly, otherwise they will cut badly, leaving ragged tips on the blades of grass and making the lawn susceptible to disease. Mechanical mowers and string trimmers should be serviced once a year if they are to give their best performance.

1. Rotary mowers

The rotating blades slash through grass at high speed. Rotary mowers don't usually give as fine a finish as cylinder mowers, but those with rollers attached to the back give a perfectly adequate cut and create attractive stripes. Mowing heights are usually easy to adjust.

Rotation DirectionEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2. Cylinder mowers

With a cylinder structure that sits horizontal to the ground, this mower has a series of blades that spin, cutting against a static bottom blade. It gives a fine cut and is suitable for formal lawns or sports surfaces where a high-quality finish is required.

Cylinder Mower Blade Rotation PatternEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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