Most of us take the grass in our yard for granted. We tend to think that the lawn is akin to an outdoor carpet and needs trimming once in a while. No statement could be more wrong than this. Lawn mowing is one of the most basic essential for maintenance of quality turf. It is a frequently practiced lawn care operation.
When should the lawn be mowed?
There is a right and wrong time for mowing a lawn. It cannot be done at one's whims and fancies. Lawn mowing should be done when the grass is dry and never when it is wet. This way conditions under which diseases can be introduced could be avoided. The risk of slipping and getting injured in the wet is also prevented. It is recommended to mow the lawn in the evening when one is less stressed than in the hot afternoons.
Frequency of lawn mowing
At one mowing, a length of one third of the growth can be removed. If a lawn grows excessively high then the mowing height should be gradually reduced to the proper height. This has to be done over a span of several mowings only. This way the physiological shock the grass will suffer is minimized if the grass is cut too short after allowed to grow very tall.
How should the lawn be mowed?
The blades or the cutting edges of the mower should be sharp. These produce clean and clear cuts and promote health of the grass. In contrast, dull and blunt mower blades make the cut rougher and the grass becomes more prone to diseases. Mowing should always be done in alternate direction. This way the grass is prevented from literally getting into a rut. Switch lawn mowing patterns and avoid the lawn mower blades beating the same grass at every mowing.
Maintaining your lawn mower
A lawn mower is a must. Protective eye gear should be of great help at the time of mowing the lawn.
Home lawn mowers come in two types - reel mower and rotary mower. While reel mowers have rotating cylinder blades that can catch the grass against a bed knife and cut it, rotary mowers employ a single blade that rotates horizontally and are commonly used for home lawns.
Rotary mowers are more easily maintainable than reel mowers, although they cause a rough and uneven cut on the grass by impact. While reel mowers provide finest quality of cut available, they are expensive. Reel mowers are restricted to fine turf like golf courses or athletic fields. Mulching mowers are usually rotary type and they allow the clippings to fall and decompose more quickly.
First and foremost, it is essential to check the mower before mowing. Ensure that the mower is full of gas and oil and the blades are clean before beginning work. Dull mowers can tear the grass instead of cutting them. This can result in injury for the grass and a brownish cast for the turf. Proper lawn mower maintenance is important for the good health of the lawn.
The Cornell University Cooperative Extension stresses that cutting a lawn with a mower set at a proper height prevents raking or bagging grass clippings. The rule of thumb insists to 'Mow when the grass is dry and 3 to 3 1/2 inches tall. Never cut is shorter than 2 to 2 1/2 inches or remove more than one third of the leaf surface at any one wrong'. Cutting a lawn stimulates growth and increases its thickness.
Beware of the fact that if the cutting height is reduced, then the lawn will become less tolerant to environmental stresses. It will also become more prone to invasion of weeds. Shorter root systems call for more water so as to compensate its reduced ability to obtain water and nutrients from the soil.
Clippings should be construed as valuable source of nutrients that can replenish a lawn. Clippings when returned to the lawn become a source of nitrogen and other nutrients, reducing the need for additional fertilization. This does not mean that large clumps of clippings be allowed to pile up in the lawn. They can choke the lawn if not raked evenly over the lawn.
Lawn maintenance during winter months
Summer lawn care
During the hottest months, grasses become semi-dormant. This makes them more vulnerable.
Take the tip
Lawn mowing and gardening is the number one leisure activity in America. With the right kind of attitude and aptitude, lawn mowing can be transformed into an activity of sheer fun. Why not give it a try?