One of the most important facets of growing a healthy lawn is proper maintenance. Your mowing schedule, as well as the way in which you mow your lawn, can have a dramatic impact on whether your lawn grows lush and thick or becomes spotty and barren.
Consider these simple tips to ensure your home is surrounded by a beautiful, thick, and healthy lawn this year.
Remember: You’re Not Mowing, You’re Pruning
Grass tends to grow at a rate that requires you to mow it weekly in the summer. Each week, you’re “pruning” your lawn with the lawnmower, which means it’s essential to avoid cutting too much grass at one time. The general rule is to never cut more than one-third of the grass length in a single cutting. While you may exceed this amount on a rare basis, cutting tall grass to a very short lawn may result in some unfortunate effects to your lawn.
Cutting too much of the grass may damage the entire blade and remove the nutrient-dense crown where the grass receives its food. Cutting a significant portion of the blade may also make it difficult for the grass to receive nutrients from the sun through photosynthesis, which may inhibit growth. Removing too much grass at one time may also result in compacted soil, and it may also create a space for weeds to grow in the absence of a thick coat of healthy grass.
Never Mow When Your Lawn is Wet
You might wake up early one weekend and figure that it’s the perfect time to mow the lawn. If you live in a humid climate, or your locale received some rain overnight, you might harm the grass by mowing it while it’s still wet. Not only can mowing the grass while it’s wet damage the grass, but it may clump up and clog the lawnmower, too.
If you must absolutely mow your lawn when it’s wet, there are some conditions under which mowing the lawn while wet won’t doom your lawn or your lawn mower. First, make sure the ground isn’t soggy. If your feet squish into the ground each time you take a step, it’s time to put the lawn mower away until the ground dries. Also, if you use an electric mower, you should never mow wet grass, even if it’s only damp from morning dew.
Get Creative with Your Mowing Patterns & Blade Height
Mowing isn’t a “set it and forget it” project you perform each week. Rather, it’s an ever-changing process that requires different height settings on your lawn mower, as well as some attention paid to the pattern you use to mow the lawn. For example, the type of grass species you have growing in your lawn will dictate what mowing height you should use on your lawn mower.
Mowing your lawn at the correct height may cut down on the number of weeds that invade your lawn, so it’s important to ask a lawn care professional about the proper mowing height for your grass. Further, never mow your lawn the same way twice in a row. The grass will begin to grow at a slant if you mow it the same way each week.
Take Special Care of Grass in the Shade
Bald spots and unhealthy patches of grass often impact shady areas of the lawn where the sun doesn’t reach the ground at all or does so for just an hour or two a day. While you can remove the grass from the shady areas of the lawn and create a shade-loving garden full of impatiens, it’s actually possible to maintain grass, even if it’s in the shade.
Grass in the shade should always reach a half inch to one inch taller than the areas of your lawn where sun reaches each day. Longer blades of grass have more surface area with which to conduct photosynthesis, which is difficult for anything in the shade that doesn’t receive adequate sunshine each day.
Keep Your Lawn Mower Sharp and Healthy
A mower with sharp blades ensures clean cuts to your grass, which help maintain growth and reduce splitting and fracturing of the grass blades. You can reduce the number of times each season you may have to sharpen the mower’s blades by clearing your lawn of debris and small rocks that can dull the mower.
If you’re mechanically inclined, you may remove the blades of your lawnmower and have them sharpened at a local hardware store. You may also take the mower to a repair or maintenance shop to have the machine looked at by a professional. Remember to always remove the key to your lawnmower before performing any maintenance on the machine.
Begin Mowing the Lawn at the Right Time in the Spring
There’s no specific date on which you should commence mowing your lawn in the spring, so you’ll need to use cues from the weather and the condition of your lawn to determine when to begin mowing for the season. Cutting grass before it’s long enough in the spring may make it more susceptible to disease and becoming riddled with weeds.
Take a ruler to your lawn and check the height of your grass in the spring. Don’t start mowing until it reaches at least two inches in length. You may even wait until it’s a little longer, so you remove no more than a third for healthy pruning. Don’t forget to fertilize in the spring, too, with a dose in March and another in May or June.
Don’t Be Afraid to Mow In the Cold Weather
It’s not uncommon to trade the lawn more for the snow blower when the winter winds blow, but it’s not unheard of to mow the lawn in the winter, or when it becomes cold outside, and growth slows. There is some wisdom on winter lawn care that suggests keeping the lawn short when it’s cold can help reduce the likelihood of fungus and mold growing before spring arrives.
If you have a warm spell before winter truly begins, or you live in an area where snow is very uncommon, you may wish to push the date of your last mowing to a later date to ensure the grass remains short over the season. A mulching mower may also come in handy when you mow in the fall, so the grass isn’t covered in leaves when it starts to snow for the winter.
A Beautiful Lawn Isn’t Impossible
If you’ve never paid that much attention to your lawn, or you’re just getting started in trying to bring a barren and dust-filled lawn back to life, you have a few days of work ahead of you. However, it’s not difficult to use these simple mowing tips to grow a beautiful lawn. You may simply need to change a few bad mowing habits to ensure a thick and healthy lawn.