How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn?
It's a question we often ask ourselves when looking out at the garden - just how often do I need to mow the lawn? Do I need to mow it today, or can I let it go a few more days? Will the grass grow better if I let it grow a bit longer, or is it better to mow it short and often?
To get the perfect looking lawn there are some important rules that should be followed if you want to make your neighbors envious of your lush green garden.
How frequently you mow the grass is the main factor in creating a perfect lawn. There are, of course, other factors that will help, but mowing is way up at the top of the list.
But before we rush out and power up the mower let's look at some important preparations that need to be done first.
BEFORE YOU MOW
Mower blades need to be sharp. Using dull, rusty blades will tear and rip out the grass. This will damage or even remove the roots and leave the lawn thin and bare in patches. Get the blades professionally sharpened or have a go yourself, but get them nice and sharp.
This will help get a cleaner cut, chopping off the top of the grass and allowing it to thicken up at the bottom. It will grow outwards across the dirt and create a thicker, lusher lawn.
Blade height is also important. The grass looks best at a height between 1 and 2 inches. The height you choose is up to you. If you like to practice your golf putting you will want it really short, but if you like the feel of cool grass on your bare feet then leave it a bit longer.
All mowers have a blade height adjustment, usually on both the front and back wheels. Test the height on a bit of lawn to get the right setting, and don’t forget to make sure the back setting is the same as the front, and that both sides of the mower are the same level. This is easy to miss and will lead to an uneven cut.
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HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE MOW?
So now we are all set and ready to mow, let's get to the important bit - how often should we get out there and cut the grass?
Well, despite what some people will tell you, there is no fixed rule. We are dealing with a natural, living plant and it will grow very differently in Portland than it will in Vegas. When you think about it, it’s obvious, it all depends on how quickly your grass grows!
The aim is to cut a third of the height off the grass each time you mow. This will keep enough green on the plant to stay healthy and encourage root growth. If the grass cannot grow up, it will grow outwards, making it thicker and helping cover the ground.
Work out how long you like your grass to be, and how quickly your grass grows, this will determine how often you mow.
A very general rule would be about once a week. This fits in well with those who work during the week and only get into the yard at the weekends and it works well with most people's lawns. This could stretch out to once every two weeks if your grass grows slowly, or increase to twice a week if you get plenty of sun and rain and like a well-kept garden.
If you are trying to tame an overgrown jungle of a lawn do not be tempted to set the mower onto the lowest setting and get it all cut down at once. You should stick to the ‘one third’ rule. Set the blade height to cut one third and mow. Allow the grass to recover for a week and then mow another third off. Continue until you have the desired height. This method will not ‘shock’ the grass and allows it to get used to its new, reduced size in between mowing.
Regular mowing of a third at a time will make the grass grow your lawn will thank you for your patience!
If you get a hot, dry period, leave the grass to grow a little longer than usual to allow it to retain more moisture, it will look greener this way and will help prevent browning or yellowing of the grass.
In arid areas or dry periods, it is a good idea to leave the mowing scattered on the lawn rather than collected in the box. It may not look so good but the mowing will act as a mulch and help keep moisture in the earth. The clippings will soon decompose and disappear.
Try to avoid mowing when the grass is very wet. The cut grass will stick to the blades making them blunt, the wet grass will rip out the ground easier so you will lose some roots, and the wet grass sticks to the underneath of the mower and makes it a real chore to clean.
Most of us will find a balance between our desire for an amazing lawn, and the time and energy we are actually prepared to put into working on it. There is no doubt that your lawn is a perfect example of the saying ‘the more you put into it, the more you get out of it’. If you water, fertilize, do some spot weed control and mow regularly, you will be rewarded with a lush, green blanket of grass that will be the envy of the neighborhood.
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So, what have we learned? How often you mow your lawn will depend on a number of factors: how quickly your grass grows, how frequently you can get out to mow it, and whether you are taming a jungle or encouraging growth from a dry, brown, patchy area that should be a lawn!
Just remember to mow regularly using the ‘one third at a time’ rule, water the lawn in dry periods and feed it with nutrients if you need to. Try to avoid mowing when wet, and keep your mower blades as sharp as possible.
This approach should reward you with a beautiful lawn worthy of the White House itself!