Helpful tips to mow your lawn better

The grass can be greener on your side. Here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind when it comes to mowing your lawn.

Helpful tips to mow your lawn better

When cutting the grass:

  • 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 3.5 to 4.5 centimetres (1.5 to 1.75 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.

Keeping your mower in tip-top shape:

  • Check the blade. It needs sharpening if the edge is rounded. Take it to a professional or do it yourself with a file, Dremel-type tool or bench grinder. Buy a balancing wheel or hang the blade on a nail to check that both sides of the blade weigh the same.
  • Tip the mower up, and remove debris and rust from the blades, canopy and anywhere else you can reach with a stiff-bristle brush.
  • Oil exposed metal parts with a rag soaked in lubricant. Grease all bearings to prevent rusting over the winter.
  • Check power cords on electrical mowers for wear. Damage to the cord can be dangerous if left untended.
  • Turn off the fuel supply and remove spark plugs before doing any work. Be sure to "stabilize" all fuel being stored over winter so that it doesn't become gummy. Purchase fuel stabilizers at hardware stores or lawn-mower dealers.
  • Check your mower's owner's manual for detailed end-of-season engine, filter and oil maintenance tips and procedures.
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