WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Mowing

Lawn Mowing takes up more time than anything other lawn care task. And it also creates the most immediate visual impression of your lawn. But lawn mowing is less to do with neat parallel stripes and MORE a key part of maintaining good lawn health.

Cylinder-mown lawn

WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Mowing

Mowing takes up more lawn care time than anything else. And it also creates the most immediate visual impression of your lawn. But lawn mowing is less to do with neat parallel stripes and MORE a key part of maintaining good lawn health.

How OFTEN should I be mowing the lawn?

The answer depends on your location and climate, the condition of the thatch layer, mix of grass species, the health of the lawn and the type of lawn (ornamental vs family, etc) – so in other words, “as often as it needs it.” If it is growing, it will need mowing. So, in a hot summer drought, you may find you stop mowing for a week or two, whereas in mid-winter your lawn may require occasional cuts.

As a basic guide you can expect to mow as follows per month:

How SHORT should I be mowing the lawn

The key rules are not cutting too short and not removing too much grass in a single cut. Cutting more often with a higher mower setting is infinitely preferable to traumatising your grass with an occasional blitz.

A useful rule of thumb is never to cut more than one third of the existing leaf blade. So if, for example, you have been away on holiday, don’t do a short cut straightaway – raise the mower height for the first cut and lower it for a second cut a few days later. For most lawns you will rarely cut below 25 mm so you are unlikely to use the lowest two or three settings on your mower.

Stiga ride-on rotary mower

What is the best type of machine for lawn mowing?

Cylinder mower

The basic choice is between cylinder and rotary mowers (both are available as walk-behind and sit-on models) but there is also an increasing use of rechargeable battery technology to reduce your carbon footprint.

First, rotary versus cylinder. The cylinder mower, with its cylindrical blade unit at the front and heavy roller at the back, is designed for cutting very short and is best used for high-quality lawns, croquet lawns, bowling lawns, etc. These, of course, are also high-maintenance lawns, but if that’s what you along with perfect stripes, this is the mower for you.

The rotary mower, with a single (two-ended) blade that rotates, is a more versatile machine and offers higher cut settings. It is also much easier to sharpen the rotary mower’s blade (see next question below). It can come with a back roller to create a simple stripe effect, or with four wheels for greater manoeuvrability.

Second, consider the power source. We now have more choice than before, with rechargeable battery mowers (an increasing range including mowers for tough terrains) and even self-propelled mowing robots. Modern lawn care can be extremely ‘green’ and the responsible gardener does not have to rely on traditional petrol mowers.

Rotary mower, showing blade
Robotic lawn mower

Do I need to sharpen my mower blade?

Yes, you do (or get your mower-maintenance service to do it for you). It is essential to have as clean a cut as possible. A blade loses its sharpness from the very first cut, so it is not long before you are tearing the grass rather than slicing the blades cleanly. Once a year is the absolute minimum, but with a rotary mower you can have a spare blade or two and simply slip a freshly sharpened one on as often as you want.

What about lawn mowing when the grass is wet?

It is possible, but wet grass does not cut as easily as dry, and the clumps of cuttings can block the mower and litter the lawn. So, take a few precautions:

  • Make sure the blade is sharp
  • Wipe the lawn first with a length of hose if you can to remove some of the water
  • Raise the cutting height a little to reduce the clumping
  • Empty the grass box frequently to keep the weight down

Why not become a mowing expert with the Ultimate Mowing Guide?

Even a humble family lawn can look absolutely superb! And there is no mystery to good mowing – but there ARE techniques to help you achieve that ‘perfect lawn’ look and be the envy of your friends and neighbours.

Join the Lawn Association FREE today and you will receive your own copy of our online ULTIMATE LAWN MOWING GUIDE, including

  • Advice direct from the expert, David Hedges-Gower
  • Explanations of mower maintenance
  • Tips for better edging, sloping lawns and other problem areas – and much more! You can scroll through the sample (or click the black box in the top right corner of the image for an expanded view).

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