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Master the Art of Lawn Mowing

Updated: Jan 26


A drive way lawn that has been mowed and edged

Join us on a journey to master the art of lawn mowing. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the secrets of achieving a lush, perfectly manicured lawn that will leave your neighbours in awe. Get ready to dive deep into the world of lawn mowing, where precision meets creativity, and where the humble act of mowing transforms into a form of artistry. From essential techniques to insider tips, we'll equip you with the knowledge and skills to take your lawn from ordinary to extraordinary. So grab your mowers, strap on your gardening gloves, and let's explore the boundless possibilities that lie within the realm of lawn mowing. Get ready to unleash the true potential of your lawn, one expertly executed pass at a time.



Table of Contents



Secret #1: Technique Matters!


Should you mow first then edge or should you edge first then mow? There is no right or wrong answer to this question as it essentially comes down to personal preference.


My preference is to:

  1. Perform a straight edge with either a whipper snipper or edging tool

  2. Flat trim around the border of the lawn that way you don't need to place your lawn mower wheels right on the edge of the lawn as this can cause scalping if the surface is uneven

  3. Blow all the grass debris from the footpaths and roads back onto the lawn so the lawn mower can pick it up

  4. Mow the lawn perimeter on two occasions in a clockwork direction as the lawn mower blades spin in clockwise direction. Therefore any excess grass will be thrown back to the centre of the lawn and not back onto the footpaths.

  5. Mow in a back and forth direction by overlapping each mowing pass by a few centimeters, you ensure the excess room between the end of the mower blades and the outside of the wheel is accounted for and thin strips of grass are not missed.


A diagram of a mowing pattern in a clockwise direction


Secret #2: Mow Your Lawn Regularly


Consistency is the key to a well-groomed lawn. Establishing a regular mowing schedule ensures that you're not removing too much of the grass blade at once, which can stress the plants.


Aim to mow when your grass reaches around one-third above its ideal height. By adhering to a routine, you'll keep your lawn looking neat, prevent weeds from spreading, and encourage healthy growth. Plus, you'll avoid the dreaded "mowathon" where you spend hours wrestling with an overgrown jungle. Make lawn mowing a regular part of your routine and enjoy a yard that's always ready for a friendly game of kick to kick or a Sunday barbecue.

A nature strip that has been mowed and edged

Secret #3: The Right Height is the Key to Success

You might be tempted to give your lawn a buzz cut, thinking it will save you time and effort. But here's the deal: cutting your grass too short can do more harm than good.

Aim for a sweet spot of around 6 to 8cm in height.

Different grass types have different preferences, and understanding these guidelines will help you maintain a healthy lawn.


Kikuyu:

To maintain a healthy and vibrant kikuyu lawn, it's recommended to mow it at a height between 4 to 7 cm.


This height range allows the kikuyu grass to thrive, develop strong roots, and maintain its density.


By mowing at the appropriate height, you encourage lateral growth, creating a dense and lush carpet-like appearance.


However, be cautious not to let the grass grow too tall, as this can lead to thatch buildup and decrease its overall health.


Couch:

To maintain a well-groomed couch lawn, the recommended mowing height falls between 1 to 4 cm.


Keeping the grass at this shorter height promotes lateral spreading and enhances its ability to recover from wear and tear.


However, it's important to note that couch grass can be mowed slightly higher during periods of extreme heat or drought to provide additional shade and protect the soil from excessive evaporation.


Buffalo grass:


To maintain a healthy and attractive buffalo lawn, it is recommended to mow it at a height of around 5 to 8 cm.


This height range allows the buffalo grass to maintain its density and promotes a strong root system.


Buffalo spreads through stolons, which enable the grass to expand horizontally by sending out runners along the soil surface. Unlike couch and kikuyu which have rhizomes that allow for stems to grow below the surface, buffalo turf does not. This means that if you scalp a buffalo lawn, there is a very high risk of killing the grass as it doesn't have the ability to self repair like Kikuyu and couch does with its rhizomes.


Secret #4: It's All About the Blade


When it comes to your lawn mower, the blade is your best friend. Dull blades tear and shred the grass, leaving it vulnerable to disease and pests. It's like trying to cut a steak with a spoon – it just won't give you the desired results. So, sharpen those blades regularly and give your grass the clean, precise cut it deserves. Trust me, your lawn will thank you by looking lush and healthy.

Showing on the left side of the diagram a leaf blade that has been cut with a sharp lawn mowing blade versus on the right where a leaf blade has been cut by a blunt lawn mower blade


Secret #5: Dance to the Rhythm of the Mowing Pattern


Forget about mindlessly pushing your mower in a straight line. " We're going to mix it up and create a lawn mowing masterpiece. Think of it as a choreographed dance routine for your mower. Alternate your mowing direction with each session – north to south, east to west, diagonal patterns – you name it! This prevents the grass from leaning in one direction and promotes even growth.

Secret #6: Timing is Everything


When it comes to mowing your lawn, timing is key. Avoid the scorching heat of the midday sun and opt for early morning or late afternoon sessions. This way, your grass won't be stressed by the heat, and you won't end up resembling a tomato with legs. It's a win-win situation. And remember, consistency is key. Aim to mow regularly, especially during the growing season, to keep your lawn looking sharp and maintain its overall health.

For those who have an amazing lawn will mow 1-3 times per week during growing season and once every 1-2 weeks during winter.


Secret #7: Treat Your Mower Like a Superstar


Your lawn mower is the MVP of your lawn care routine, so it deserves some TLC.


Keep it clean, change the oil, replace the spark plug.


A well maintained mower will provide better performance and ensure a clean, precise cut every time.


Plus, it'll last longer, saving you from having to buy a new one every season.



Secret #8: Mulch as You Mow



Mulching is not just a convenient way to deal with grass clippings—it's a secret weapon for a healthier, more vibrant lawn. As you mow, the mower's mulching blades finely chop the clippings and disperse them back into the turf. This natural mulch helps to retain moisture, provides essential nutrients to the soil, and acts as a protective layer against weeds. The result? A greener, more resilient lawn that requires less watering and fertilisation.

Secret #9: Avoid Cutting Wet Grass


Mowing a wet lawn may seem like a time-saving hack, but it can wreak havoc on your yard. Wet grass tends to clump together, leading to an uneven and messy cut. It can also put excessive strain on your mower's engine, clogging the cutting deck and causing it to work less efficiently. Moreover, wet conditions create an ideal breeding ground for fungal diseases that can damage your precious turf. So, hold off on mowing until your grass has had a chance to dry out, and give your lawn the respect it deserves.


Secret #10: Do Not Spray Any Chemicals Prior to Mowing


It's tempting to reach for the herbicides or pesticides before mowing to tackle those pesky weeds or insects.


However, applying chemicals right before mowing can do more harm than good. Chemicals can potentially contaminate the soil, harm beneficial insects, or cause discoloration on your lawn. If you need to address weed or pest issues, do so a few days before mowing or consider organic alternatives. Most herbicides and pesticides will ask you to not spray the lawn until at least 5 days prior or 5 days after you mow the lawn.


Secret #11: A Bumpy Lawn Will Be an Uneven Lawn


Picture this: you're strolling across your lawn, and suddenly your foot sinks into a hidden dip or gets jolted by an unexpected bump. Not the most enjoyable experience, right? Uneven terrain can make mowing a challenging task and result in an unattractive finish. But fear not, there are solutions! Start by addressing the underlying causes of bumps and depressions, such as compacted soil or hidden tree roots. Consider aerating the lawn or top-dressing with compost to improve soil structure. For more significant leveling needs, you can opt for techniques like lawn rolling or even consulting a professional. Remember, a smooth and even lawn surface not only enhances its beauty but also makes mowing a breeze.



Secret #12: Lawn Mowing Safety


While mowing the lawn may seem like a leisurely activity, it's essential to prioritise safety. Protect yourself from potential mishaps by following a few simple guidelines. Always wear appropriate footwear, such as sturdy shoes, to protect your feet. Use hearing protection if your mower is particularly loud, and wear safety glasses to shield your eyes from debris. Keep children and pets at a safe distance while mowing and be cautious when mowing on slopes or uneven terrain. Lastly, be mindful of any obstacles in your path, such as rocks or branches, to avoid potential damage to your mower or injury to yourself.


Nathan from Nathan's Lawn Care mowing a front lawn in Strathmore wearing ear muffs, safety glasses and work boots


Secret #13: Different Lawn Mowing Equipment You Can Use


Gone are the days when mowing your lawn meant struggling behind a noisy, manual push mower. Nowadays, you have a range of options when it comes to lawn mowing equipment. Let's explore a few alternatives:


  • Self-propelled mowers are a popular type of lawn mower that feature a built-in drive system, allowing them to move forward without the need for manual pushing. These mowers are designed to make mowing large or hilly yards more manageable and less physically demanding.

Honda self propel lawn mower

  • Battery Mowers: If you're looking for a more sustainable option, battery mowers are worth considering. They offer convenience and environmental friendliness. Plus, they tend to be quieter and require less maintenance than their petrol-powered counterparts.

Ryobi battery lawn mower

  • Ride on Mowers: For larger properties, a ride on mower can be a game-changer. Picture yourself comfortably seated, effortlessly cruising across your lawn while the mower does the hard work for you.

Husqvarna ride on lawn mower

  • Robotic Mowers: Embrace the future of lawn care with robotic mowers. These autonomous machines take care of your mowing needs, effortlessly navigating your lawn with precision. Sit back, relax, and let your robotic companion handle the chore.

Husqvarna robotic lawn mower

  • Cylinder Mowers: These classic mowers harness the power of your movement to cut the grass. With their quiet operation and precise cutting, reel mowers offer a nostalgic charm while still delivering excellent results.

Cylinder lawn mower


Secret #14: Edging the Lawn


A nature strip that has been mowed and edged

To truly achieve a professional-looking lawn, don't forget the finishing touch—edging.


Edging creates crisp and defined borders along walkways, driveways, and flower beds, giving your lawn a polished appearance.


Whether you prefer manual edging tools, electric edgers, or even using a whipper snipper, the goal is to create a clear separation between your lawn and other elements.


Edging adds that extra level of detail that sets your yard apart from the rest.


So, take the time to edge your lawn and admire the clean lines that elevate its aesthetic appeal.



Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is the ideal frequency for mowing my lawn?

A. The ideal frequency for mowing your lawn depends on the growth rate of your grass and the season. As a general rule, aim to mow your lawn when it has grown to about one-third higher than the recommended mowing height. For most grass types, this translates to mowing once every week during the growing season.


Q. Should I mow my lawn when it's wet?

A. Avoid mowing your lawn when it's wet, as it can lead to an uneven cut and clumping of grass clippings. Wet grass tends to bend and stick together, making it difficult for the mower blades to cut cleanly. Wait for the grass to dry before mowing to ensure a more even and effective cut.


Q. Is it necessary to alternate mowing patterns?

A. Yes, it's beneficial to alternate mowing patterns each time you mow your lawn. Changing the direction in which you mow helps prevent the grass from leaning in one direction and encourages upright growth. Additionally, alternating patterns can help avoid compacting the soil in the same areas, leading to a healthier and more even-looking lawn.


Q. Should I bag or mulch grass clippings?

A. Mulching grass clippings is generally recommended as it returns valuable nutrients back to the soil, acting as a natural fertiliser. The finely chopped clippings break down quickly and release nitrogen, promoting a healthier lawn. However, if the grass is excessively long or wet, it's better to bag the clippings to prevent them from smothering the grass and causing clumping.


Q. When is the best time of day to mow my lawn?

A. The best time to mow your lawn is during the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. Mowing during the hottest part of the day can put stress on the grass and increase the risk of dehydration. Additionally, mowing in the cooler hours helps minimise the loss of moisture from the freshly cut grass and reduces the chance of heat-related damage to the turf.


Q. Should I sharpen my mower blades?

A. Yes, it's crucial to keep your mower blades sharp. Dull blades can tear the grass instead of cleanly cutting it, resulting in a ragged appearance and potentially inviting disease. Sharpen your mower blades at least once or twice a season, or whenever you notice the grass blades appear frayed or uneven after mowing.


Q. Can I mow over leaves and debris in my lawn?

A. Mowing over small leaves and light debris is generally acceptable, especially if you have a mulching mower. The mower will chop the leaves into smaller pieces, which can then break down and enrich the soil. However, if the leaves are thick or wet, it is best to remove them before mowing. Thick layers of leaves can prevent sunlight from reaching the grass and suffocate the turf, leading to brown patches and poor growth. Additionally, large debris like sticks or branches should be cleared from the lawn to avoid damaging the mower blades and creating hazards during mowing.


Q. Can I spray weed killer before mowing?

A. No, it's generally not recommended to spray weed killer immediately before mowing. Most herbicides require some time to be absorbed by the weeds before they become effective. Spraying weed killer right before mowing can result in the chemicals being removed from the leaf surfaces, reducing their effectiveness. It's best to follow the instructions on the herbicide label and allow sufficient time for the product to work before mowing the lawn.


Q. How can I achieve clean and defined edges in my lawn?

A. To achieve clean and defined edges in your lawn, you can use an edging tool or a whipper snipper. Edging involves cutting a distinct line between the lawn and adjacent surfaces like footpaths or flower beds. Follow the natural contours of the lawn and make steady, controlled movements to create a clean edge. Regularly maintaining the edges will give your lawn a neat and manicured appearance.


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