Mowing your lawn is an essential and easy part of backyard maintenance.
The best time to mow
The best time of the day to mow your lawn is around mid-morning. That’s because any dew or irrigated water will have dried up, and it should be before the heat of the day has set in. This is important because turf stress can occur when a short lawn is exposed on a hot sunny day.
Mowing your lawn will vary from season to season and your location, but generally mowing every second week in summer and every 2–5 weeks from autumn through winter will be enough. Spring mowing will vary due to rainfall levels and sunny days, so watch it closely and cut as required.
The ideal lawn height
The height of your lawn will depend on what type of grass you have. Perhaps the simplest rule of thumb is how your lawn looks. Looking untidy? Then it’s time for a trim. Typically, you should only be removing 30–40 percent of the grass blade each time you cut. If you cut any lower than that, you may be reducing your lawn’s root growth, which could hurt its long-term health.
Buffalo grass should be cut at 40–50mm, kikuyu is best kept at 40–45mm, whereas couch grass can be cut to 25–30mm. In shaded areas or the cooler months, you can keep your grass a little longer. And if you’re still not sure, kick your shoes off and take a walk on your lawn—it should feel nice underfoot without feeling like you’re sinking into it.
How to make a checker board pattern on your lawn
The checker board lawn pattern you see on sports fields is easier than you think to create at home. Also called lawn striping, it is created by using the blades of your lawnmower to bend the grass a certain way. Grass bent towards you looks darker than those bent the opposite way.
A simple way to get the checker board look is to mow in a straight line along the edge of your yard. Then turn around and mow a straight line the opposite way. Keep alternating directions until you’ve finish your yard. Then turn 90 degrees and mow lines across your yard in alternating directions.
Bag grass clippings
Leaving your lawn clippings on the ground after mowing can be beneficial because it allows valuable nutrients to return to your lawn. Clippings contain nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are natural fertilisers. It’ll also save you time and energy when you’re mowing.
A popular myth is that leaving your clippings on your lawn after mowing can cause thatching. This is a layer of partially decomposed grass and organic matter lying between the soil and grass. As long as you mow regularly and the grass is at the same height, this won’t be a problem as your grass will break down naturally.
Mowing wet lawn
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t mow your lawn when it’s wet. Disease can be spread through your grass when it’s wet so you need to be aware of any fungi or bacteria in your lawn. Cutting wet grass can also cause problems for your mower by sticking to its undercarriage. A good tip is to give your mower a thorough clean after use. You can also compact your soil when it’s wet, which can cause long-term damage.
If you are going to mow when it’s wet, a good tip is to have your mower blades sharpened. This is because wet grass can shred or tear instead of being cut, which can cause long-term grass damage. You could also raise your mower blades higher so you cut less grass, which will cause less problems for your lawn.
The right mower for the job
When choosing a lawn mower, a few things to consider are the type of grass you have, the size of your lawn and the type of terrain you will be cutting. A wider cutting lawn mower will help you mow larger areas faster. Electric, cordless or hand lawn mowers are ideal for smaller spaces and infrequent use. Although petrol and ride-on lawn mowers require servicing and fuel, they can easily tackle larger areas and rough terrain.
Lawn mowing safety
It’s important to stay safe when mowing your lawn. You should always wear protective goggles, gloves, earmuffs and closed-toe footwear. Stones and debris can fly a long way when hit by the cutting blade, so make sure when you’re mowing that there isn’t anyone around.
Before you start mowing, make sure that there isn’t anything lying on the lawn that will interfere with your cutting such as small toys, large sticks or rocks. It’s also important to remember to always turn the mower off before you empty the grass catcher, unclog the discharge chute, inspect underneath the mower or cross a gravel path.