Top 5 Ways To Mow Better

Keeping your lawn healthy all season long is as simple as following these five mowing rules of thumb.

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Photo by: RRDonnelley


Proper mowing helps control weeds, recycle nutrients, encourage deep root growth, and contribute to the overall health and durability of the lawn. Best mowing practices will vary based on season, weather conditions, grass species, and how intensely a lawn is managed. Here are some points to consider when setting the course for your mowing path.

1. Make sure you have a sharp, properly installed mower blade.

A dull blade leaves a lawn with a ragged cut which allows more entry points for insects and disease. A sharp blade provides a nice, even cut that is far healthier for the grass.

2. Determine your grass species.

There is no universal perfect mowing height for grass. Each species thrives at different heights based on their physiology. Finer bladed grasses can be mowed shorter, while wide-leafed species do better with more height. St. Augustine grass, a wide-leafed species, thrives at 3½ to 4 inches tall while Centipedegrass, which grows prostrate to the ground, can be maintained at just 1 to 2 inches tall. And fine-bladed cool season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, should be kept around 2 to 3 inches tall.

Taking the time to identify your lawn’s grass species and mowing accordingly can help ensure a healthy, thriving lawn.

3. Set the mower deck height.

The general rule of thumb when mowing is to try not to remove more than one third of the grass blade present in a single mowing. If lawns are continually allowed to grow too long and then cut back dramatically, it can stress the grass. That causes grass to pull nutrients from the root system, degrading the roots and eventually resulting in a thinning, unhealthy lawn. And cutting a lawn shorter than the grass species prefers has the same effect.

The best thing to do is keep your mowing height consistent throughout the year, and mow frequently so you’re never taking too much off the top.

4. Mow at the right interval.

Your lawn tells you when it needs to be mowed, not your calendar. If a lawn is heavily fertilized and irrigated, or in its active growth period, it may need to be mowed twice a week. Conversely, if your grass has entered its dormant season or is suffering from drought stress, it may not need to be mowed at all. Again, it’s about following the rule of never removing more than one third of the grass blades at a time. If the desired lawn height is 2 inches, it needs to be cut when it grows to 3 inches tall.

5. Plan for clippings.

In most cases, lawn clippings should be deposited right back onto the lawn. They’re full of nutrients the lawn can recycle and put to good use.

But if grass has been left to grow too long and a lot of clippings will need to be dispersed, it’s best to bag and remove them to avoid smothering the lawn.

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