Are you correctly mowing your lawn?

Each type of grass has an ideal height range for cutting, where you leave enough blade length to sustain the health of the plant and keep the grass thick enough to crowd out weeds. Here's what else you should know.

Are you correctly mowing your lawn?

Mowing must-dos

  • Two mistakes are to cut the grass too low and to let it grow too long before cutting. Pick a height within that range that's suitable for your terrain.
  • Then set your mowing height by placing the mower on a flat, hard surface, measuring to the bottom of the mowing deck and adjusting the wheels accordingly.
  • Your grass needs mowing when it's one and a half times the ideal cutting height. That means if the cutting height is five centimetres (two inches), cut the grass when it's about 7.5 centimetres (three inches) high.
  • Use a mulching blade instead of a standard blade in your lawn mower. It chops up the grass more finely so it can fall in between the grass blades and decompose easier.
  • The clippings are a free source of nitrogen for your lawn and help retain soil moisture.

Tips on mowing

  • Change mowing directions each time you mow to lessen soil compaction (from you with a walk-behind mower or the tires from a riding mower).
  • Mow with a sharp cutting blade. A dull blade rips off the blades of grass rather than cutting them. That stresses the grass and leaves a brown shredded end on each blade.
  • Rake or catch clippings if it's necessary. Long grass should be removed if it's so long that it clumps when it's discharged. Those clumps can smother or even kill underlying grass and encourage fungi and moulds.
  • In climates that receive snow, reduce the first and last seasonal mowing to four centimetres (about 1.5 inches). That will discourage snow mould and reduce shrew and vole damage during the winter, especially with fescues and bluegrass.
  • If you've neglected your lawn and the grass is long, just cut off the top one-third of it on the first mowing. Let it recuperate from the stress for a few days before mowing again. This time, too, cut off no more than one-third until you reach the right height.

How to identify your grass and its growing cycle

You need to know what type of grass you have to determine the best care regimen for your lawn. Different grasses have different cutting heights and watering and fertilizer needs, and all can be harmed by certain herbicides.

There are dozens of varieties of grasses, but they break down into two broad categories: warm- and cool-climate grasses.

  • Warm-climate grasses are found mainly in the southern United States where hot (and sometimes humid) conditions predominate during the summer and the winter is mild. They grow most rapidly before and after the hottest summer period.
  • Cool-climate grasses are found nearly everywhere else with the exception of the desert regions. They thrive just before and after the hot summer months and go dormant in the winter months. In the transitional zone, both types can be found.
  • It's easy to identify your grass type. Simply pull a plug of the most dominant variety (or varieties; most lawns have a combination of species) and show it to experts at a local garden centre.
  • They will be a wellspring of regional advice and be able to recommend the timing and application of the lawn care products that work best with your grass and in your local climate and soil conditions. They'll also know how to deal with local garden pests, weeds and soil conditions.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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