Even as simple and easy as it seems to be, cutting your lawn correctly is actually one of the main lawn care jobs that most people either do wrong or overlook.
It takes a little more care and attention than most people realise, which is most probably why they aren’t achieving the results they want.
In light of this, I’m going to share a few basic mowing tips that will help you get your lawn looking at its best.
Tips to cutting your lawn
1. Do not cut your lawn too short
Without knowing, the majority of homeowners make the same mistake by cutting their lawn too short. Your lawn should be cut around 30 to 40 mm to ensure the grass roots grow deeper (normally the roots grow three times as deep as the lawn is mowed at – this is not known by many). Cutting your lawn taller will reward you with a much greener, darker and healthier lawn in comparison to cutting it too short.
In addition, having longer blades of grass will ensure your lawn is less prone to damage from drought, and you will need to water less frequently. Longer lawns also means a reduction of weeds and bare patches.
If you take a grass sample from grass mowed at longer length, you will immediately see that the roots are much deeper, more developed and healthier compared to grass mowed much shorter.
You might have heard about the 1/3 rule, meaning that you should only cut 1/3 of the total length of the blade, for healthy and green lawn.
How do I know what height my mower is set to?
Using a tape measure, you will need to measure from the ground to the bottom of your mower’s deck, then from this point up to the blade; this equals the total height your mower will cut your lawn at. Some manufacturers indicate in their user manual how the cutting height number on the lawn mower (i.e. 1-5) relates to the height at which the mower is actually cutting.
Hopefully, now you are fully on-board that your lawn should be mowed at a higher setting, but for sure you will have lots of other question, so let me carry on…
2. Choose the right mower for your lawn
When choosing a lawn mower, there are so many considerations to take into account. No doubt for most this can be a daunting task.
There are many different options available from a manual push mower to a self-propelled cordless lawn mower. Many lawn mowers have different features and functions, some are designed for larger lawn and some for much smaller gardens. To help you choose, I have written the following guide that will explain the different options available, and how to ensure you spend your hard earned cash on a lawn mower that suits you and your lawn’s needs – Lawn Mowers: A Helpful Illustrated Guide to Buying a Lawn Mower.
If you have read my Guide and now have decided what type of mower is the best option for you, I have included below my best selection in each category –
You should also consider if striping the lawn or mulching is important to you (recently becoming very popular in the UK), as you would want to purchase a mower with this functionality. For benefits to mulching see my link below –
For convenience, below I have included the best mulching lawn mowers, each with a detailed review including pros / cons, features and suitability.
3. Choose the right grass trimmer for your lawn
The majority of mowers will not cut right to the edge, so some trimming will be required to get a clean and professional finish. Again, trimmers come in all shapes and sizes, some are electric, some petrol and some cordless, and again choosing the right trimmer will depend on the size of your lawn, your requirements and budget.
To help you choose, I have listed my top trimmers below, each with a full review including their pros and cons –
Alternatively, you could use a manual pair of shears to trim these edges if your lawn is not too large. Shears are available with long handles so that you are not having to get down on your hands and knees to finish off the lawn edges after mowing.
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4. Ensure your mower blade is sharp
If the ends of your grass blades are not sharply cut, and they look more like they have been torn with white strands, this is a tell tell sign that the blade of your mower need to be sharpened or replaced.
Sharpening the blade of your mower is not difficult, it can generally be done by anyone with basic DIY skills. For more information and to see how easy it is to sharpen your blade see the video below.
Replacement blades for most mowers are inexpensive and readily available.
Don’t forget that the underneath of the mower’s deck will need to be kept clean, and whilst the blade is removed this is the ideal opportunity to get this done. Having a clean deck will ensure that the mower continues to cut effectively and helps to preserve the efficiency of the grass cutting collection. (some petrol mowers like the Hayter Harrier range are provided with an integrated Wash Port that allows your garden hose to be connected, and whilst the blade is spinning it conveniently washes the deck)
5. Mow your lawn once per week
The frequency of mowing your lawn depends on the season and weather conditions. Your lawn should not be mowed at your convenience (some homeowners like to mow their lawn every Saturday morning), it should be mowed according to its needs.
If you are preparing to do the “first cut of the year”, ensure that the lawn is cleared of any stones, sticks, rubbish, debris and has dried out from the winter rain/snow. The first cut of the year really depends on the weather and your location, but normally is carried out during the first 2 weeks in April.
In general terms, your lawn should be mowed once per week in the summer season.
Try not to mow your lawn when it is wet, as the grass clippings will not be collected as efficiently and they will clog the deck of the mower and the inlet chute, leaving clumps of wet grass on your lawn.
It is much better to mow your lawn early evening after a dry day. (will also prevent slippery ground especially on sloped lawns)
Also another point to make, that many homeowners may not be aware of, is that you should alternate the mowing direction every time you mow. If today you mow your lawn north to south, next time you should mow from west to east (this will ensure that no grass gets pushed down and missed). Always mow your lawn with a very slight overlap (the wheel mark can be used as your guide).
Now you have read my general tips for cutting your lawn, your lawn care tasks will change throughout the year based on the seasons. To help you further, I’ve divided this article into seasons to provide more accurate advice.
Since your lawn has just gone through winter, it has likely experienced some harsh weather conditions, and therefore it is likely to be pretty fragile.
This means you’re going to want to cause as little stress to it as possible, and to do this you need to make sure you DO NOT cut off anymore than 1/3 off the length of each grass blade.
Not only that but it promotes better growth because of the bigger surface area, reduces the risk of soil compaction and makes it less vulnerable to disease and pests.
So overall (not just in the spring) it’s a pretty good rule to live by.
You’ll also want to start mowing a little and often, about once per week will be enough, for similar reasons.
Just make sure you remember to gradually build this as you make your way into summer.
Aim to keep the height of your grass the same throughout the entirety of spring, of course this will be different for everyone and depends on the condition of your lawn.
For most people this should be around 40 mm during Spring, for those with a lawn that’s been through a bit of wear and tear, keep it at around 50 mm, and for those in the shade keep it at around 60 mm.
Ideally, you’ll want to maintain the grass a little higher than these measurements so that you definitely don’t cut it too short.
Just like in Spring, you want to abide by the 1/3 rule during Summer.
As with your mowing frequency, this really depends on the weather conditions.
Because of the warmer weather, you’d expect the grass to grow much faster than it has over the past few months, therefore you’d have to mow more often. But you could be wrong.
With warm weather often comes dry weather, which I’m sure you know, makes for poor grass growing conditions.
If this is the case then lay off the mowing to (at least) once per week, just like you were doing in Spring, and keep the grass at least 30 mm long.
But if the conditions are good for growing, i.e. a good amount of rainfall, then you can increase your frequency to twice a week – while following the same lawn height rules.
Also, if you’re planning on going away on holiday then try to cut the lawn as close as possible to your leaving date, and remember to trim the edges every now and then.
As the growing conditions become worse as the year goes on, you’re going to have to reduce how often you mow your lawn to account for slower growing grass.
For example, if you mow on a weekly basis, once Autumn hits and you begin to see slower growth, then you could start mowing every 10 days at the beginning and work your way down from there.
The key is to do so gradually, so feel free to adapt according to your lawns needs.
The Last Two Mows
For the last two mows before the end of Autumn, you’re actually going to cut the grass a little shorter than you would normally.
Seeing as the weather is likely to go tits up during this period, you want your grass to get as much sunlight exposure as possible in order to promote stronger growth. Which is what you’ll be doing by cutting it a little shorter.
This also makes it less likely for your grass to turn brown.
Mowing during the Winter season is not normally required.
If the sun does pop out within the clouds and the temperatures reach at least 5°C then you may need to get your mower out.
But remember the grass won’t grow much and you should only mow your grass at a high setting. Do not attempt to mow the lawn if the ground conditions are frozen, soft under-foot or there has been a significant cold spell – as this will cause more damage than good.
Also you might want to trim the edges around your lawn and pathways during warmer days just to take full advantage of the good weather.
Hopefully with the tips and advice I’ve shared with you today, you’ll be able to get your lawn looking as sharp as possible.
If you are unsure of anything I’ve said, then please leave a comment below and I will be happy to respond.
If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my Dealing With Autumn Leaves on Your Lawn.
On my site you will find other helpful articles and best garden tools to use in your garden, all designed for different purposes, there is no better place to go than here!