Mikes Mowing Tips – For a Better Lawn

Today I want to talk about one of my favourite past times/chores to do at home. MOWING!!! I don’t know about you, but I find mowing to be so satisfying and enjoyable. Looking back at the finished product when you are done and seeing those lines in the grass and that beautiful cut with green grass is just a beautiful sight for me. I know, I’m a bit of a yard nerd. I would like to go over some important aspects of mowing including mowing heights and mowing techniques and best practices. This is an important part of obtaining and maintaining that beautiful lawn your neighbours will be envious of.

Let’s start with mowing heights. This is actually one of the most important parts of proper lawn mowing if not the most important. A properly mowed lawn at the proper height will promote a thick, lush lawn. It will help to discourage weed development and encourage lawn thickening. Ideally you are cutting off one third of the grass height. “Now what is the correct grass height?” you might be asking. We all want that golf course green look. Unfortunately, this is not the correct mowing height for the type of grasses found in lawns. Golf course greens use a type of grass called bent grass. This type of grass flourishes at very low heights and can handle being mowed every day or every other day. Now I may enjoy cutting grass at home but I sure don’t want to be out there every day. Typically, in lawns you will find a combination of Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye Grass and a Fescue Grass. These grasses do very well at a height of somewhere between 2 ½ inches to 3 inches. This is our target height. Now remember, we only want to take off about 1/3 of the plant. When the height gets to around 4 inches, we can cut it back to that 3-inch mark. This may mean in Spring time when grass is very actively growing, you may have to mow more than once per week. In late fall, we can start to lower our mowing heights and will be cutting much less frequently. I like to lower the height to around 2 inches but I do not go lower. I have found that this helps to shut down the grass and get it ready for the winter season. (Don’t forget to apply that Fall Fertilizer!!)

Now let’s discuss some techniques that I like to use. This part will help you achieve a thicker lawn and will give you a lawn that will look a little like a golf course. What I mean by this is that when we think of a golf course we always see those beautiful light and dark lines left in the grass. These lines are achieved because we are pushing the grasses in a certain direction with the mower. When we come back the opposite way we push the grass down in the opposite direction. This gives us the light and dark lines we see. OK – so we have the line thing mastered. So what happens if I just keeping cutting the grass in the same way? Well the grass is basically being trained to only grow in that direction. This will not help to thicken the lawn. We need to change our patterns. This is why I like to do 4 patterns. Start with the criss-cross and follow that up with the diagonals.
The criss-cross pattern is cutting the grass towards the house one week and following up the next week with the exact opposite direction. This will give a checker board appearance. Week 3 we will cut on a diagonal and the 4
th week we will do the opposite angle. (I usually like to choose a nice 45-degree angle. Picture a square and cut from corner to corner.) This will help your grass to grow in all directions and will help to promote a thick lush lawn. If you want to really make your mowing look good, try making all your passes back and forth first and do what I like to call a cleanup cut around the perimeter at the end. This cleans up all the turn marks left from the mower. (why I call it a cleanup cut)

Finally, some best practices when it comes to mowing. The obvious one is to keep your mower maintained. We don’t want a mower that is leaking oil or fuel and we want that motor to be at optimal working condition so the mower blade is spinning at a good speed. This will help ensure the grass is cut properly. Part of maintenance is also keeping our blades sharp. We want to cut the grass clean not tear at it. If we tear at the grass, we are damaging the plant. The grass will be busy repairing itself and not growing. (Plants can only do one thing at a time) Once a month should be sufficient for sharpening blades. I like to have a second blade handy that way I can quickly change the blades and continue mowing. To bag the clippings, or not to bag. In Spring and during growing seasons, I recommend bagging your clippings. During the slower months (usually the hot months of August when grass tends to slow down because of the heat) you can go to a mulching system and switch back to bagging when the temperatures cool down and the grass begins to grow again.

Well I could honestly go on and on about mowing and about lawns but I think I have talked enough. I’m pretty sure your lawn needs you right now so happy mowing.

And if you need a hand or just want someone else to take care of your lawn for you, give me (MIKE) a call at Oakridge. I can give you a free estimate on your yard maintenance needs.