Use the Proper Equipment
Make sure your lawn mower — whether you push or ride — is in proper working order. Annual tune-ups will help you avoid costly repairs and down time during the height of mowing season. It is best to schedule these in late winter or very early spring to avoid the rush and to be sure your equipment is ready for battle.
Annual maintenance may include changing the oil and oil filter, servicing the fuel line, replacing spark plugs, and various other adjustments and inspections to make sure your machine is operating efficiently and safely.
Make sure the mower blade is sharp. A sharp blade cuts the grass cleanly and allows it to heal more quickly. A dull blade will “tear” the grass, leaving it jagged and causing brown and gray ends to appear. Depending on the size of your lawn and the frequency with which you mow, you may have to have the blades sharpened 2 or 3 times during a mowing season. Check the oil and fuel every time you mow.
Additional “equipment” includes your own clothing and protection. Exposed skin may be vulnerable to flying debris. Even when it’s hot outside, it is wise to wear pants and long sleeves. Wear shoes that protect your toes and provide excellent traction. Protect your hands with work or gardening gloves. Wear safety goggles or at least, sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t mow in cutoff shorts, sandals, and a tank top or you are just asking for an injury.
Preparation is Key
Before you mow, walk your lawn, row by row, looking for toys, tools, or debris. Not only could such things damage your mower, but may become a projectile if you mow over them. And if you have pets, you will probably also want to pick up any waste piles. Not only can they be damaging to your yard, but you do not want to run over one of these piles or step in it! This is a great way for kids to safely help with lawn care — have them pick up sticks and toys, but inspect their work! And once they are done helping you prepare the lawn, make sure all children are out of the way and well-supervised while you mow. You will not be able to hear them over the noise of the mower.
Do a final inspection of your mower before you begin — make sure all shields and safety guards are in place.
Mow to an Ideal Height
First, determine the ideal height for your lawn. This depends on the type of grass you have. Here are some recommended heights for some varieties common to central Indiana:
Kentucky Bluegrass: 2.5 to 3 inches
Perennial Ryegrass: 2.5 to 3 inches
Tall Fescue: 2.5 to 4 inches
Because the roots of your lawn grow in proportion to the height of the grass above ground, cutting grass to the higher end of the recommended lengths will result in deeper roots and a stronger, thicker lawn that is more resistant to drought and disease. Taller grass = deeper roots, so avoid cutting the lawn too short.
In fact, you should never cut more than 1/3 of the length of the lawn during a single cutting. Cutting any more at a time could cause serious damage to your lawn. To avoid this, plan to mow frequently enough that you aren’t cutting too much. For example, if your ideal lawn height is 2 inches, you should mow before the lawn height reaches 3 inches to avoid cutting more than a 1/3 of the blade lenght at a time. During the heavy growth cycle, it may be necessary to cut the grass a couple of times a week. During periods of slower growth, once a week may suffice. If your schedule or the weather keeps you from this and the lawn gets a little out of control, set the blade higher, then mow again a couple of days later until the desired height is reached.
Taller grass has the added benefit of “shading out” the weeds, so don’t think you’re saving yourself any time by mowing the grass shorter and less frequently. You’ll pay for it in weeds!
What About Those Clippings?
Another consideration when mowing your lawn is what to do with the clippings. Should you bag them? Should you mulch them? Should you rake when you’re done? What is best for the lawn?
If you are mowing as frequently as recommended and taking no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass at one time, the clippings should be short enought that you can leave them on the lawn. If your mower is equipped with a mulching blade, remove the bag and leave the clippings on the grass. The mulched clippings contain nutrients that are very beneficial to your lawn. The mulched clippings also help keep the topsoil moist and the temperature down — conditions that lead to a more beautiful lawn. Not to mention, you will save yourself a ton of work and a lot of time by leaving the rake in the garage! This is true when the lawn us not unusually tall. In that case, you should bag or rake the clippings. Using a mulching blade when the grass is too tall may lead to a clogged deck, also. (Yet another reason to mow frequently!)
Sit Back and Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Caring for your lawn certainly has its rewards. With a little TLC, you can have a thick, green, lush lawn that is naturally resiliant to drought and infestations. You will be the envy of the neighborhood!
Would You Rather Leave it to the Pros?
Maybe you’d rather spend your summer time on activities besides mowing. Maybe you are a property manager looking for a company to provide mowing service. Maybe you’re a homeowner association officer responsible for contracting the care and upkeep of common areas. Whatever your reason, if you’d rather leave the mowing duties to the pros, then please CONTACT US for more information about our lawn and landscaping services!