Mowing season is officially HERE! Ready to kick some grass this year? The first step in having a healthy lawn all summer long is to take the proper steps during spring mowing. Even one pass at the wrong time or wrong height can be detrimental. Keep reading for our expert tips on achieving yard of the month status!
No matter the time of year, it’s important to never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blades away. For example, if your grass is currently 3″ tall, you should cut off no more than 1″. It’s also important to keep in mind that for most midwestern grass varieties, the ideal height will range from 2.5″ to 4″.
Taking too much off the blades can shock the grass and lead to lots of moisture and nutrient loss. Opening up the blades too far down can cause the grass to take much longer to recover properly, causing yellow patches. You’ll also likely see some stress-related diseases from the grass being too vulnerable.
Piggybacking off of tip #1, it’s better for your lawn to mow more frequently. Doing so means that you won’t be taking off as much height each time, so you can follow the 1/3 rule of thumb, and it’ll be easier to stay within the ideal height range. Grass is also able to recover better & faster from shorter and more frequent cuts, keeping it healthier throughout the whole summer. If you typically aim to mow every other week, instead try shooting for mowing with a higher deck height one or twice a week.
If you’re working in a yard or area with tall, overgrown grass, it’s best to make multiple mowing passes. Trying to cut down to your desired height on the first pass will result in a) taking off way more than 1/3 of the total length, and b) damaging your grass long-term. Instead, try taking the top 1/3 off, then waiting a day or two before coming back and taking off another 1/3. If the grass is extremely tall, you may need to repeat this process one or two more times before reaching your desired height.
Not only is taking down tall grass in increments better on the lawn, it’s also better on your mower. You won’t experience as many issues with clogs or clumping, since working in smaller cuts will resemble what a regular mow would be like. Depending on the size and power of your mower, you may also reduce your risk of stalling or placing too much strain on the engine. It may be beneficial to knock the grass down with a trimmer first (if possible) before going in with a mower; just remember to let it recover in between.
When it comes to the time of day you mow, there’s actually more science involved than what you might think. For starters, avoid mowing in grass that is too wet or dewy. This can lead to soil compaction and clumps of grass being left on your lawn, which can smother the healthy grass below. On the flip side, mowing when it’s too hot & sunny outside can cause your grass to lose water too quickly, slowing the recovery process. Aim to mow when it’s a little cooler or more shady.
While it’s usually recommended to mow your lawn in straight back-and-forth passes, it’s important to switch up the direction (or pattern). For example, if you usually always mow in North-South passes, your grass will always lay the same way. In this case, try switching up your next mow by making straight East-West or diagonal passes. This lays the grass in different directions, exposing all blades evenly.
Even through grass blades are pretty thin, it’s possible for one side to receive more light than the other. The stripes you see after mowing are caused by the force exerted by your mower blades. This force lays the grass a certain direction. When grass is always laying the same way, the ‘top’ side will receive more sunlight. This can result in the grass growing back unevenly or becoming less healthy over time.
Once you’ve got a healthy, full lawn established, it’s important to maintain it the right way. One of the most forgotten pieces in this equation is to keep your mower blades sharp. Mowing grass with dull blades rips the plant tissue harshly with a ragged edge, instead of leaving a clean cut. You might see yellowing of the tips, and it will be harder for the grass to seal & heal correctly. We recommend having your blades sharpened before the first mow, then as needed throughout the season.