The sun has finally started to come out on a consistent basis and it’s time for you to fire up your lawn mower (if you haven’t already) and start to cut your grass. But before you start it may be worth reading this guide first, as mowing your lawn might not be as simple as it first seems!
Choose Your Lawn Mower
Probably the most used power gardening tool will be your lawn mower. So before you even think about getting out there to cut the grass, take some time to consider what type of mower you need before purchasing one:
Hand-push – Hand-push mowers are a good option for small areas of grass, they are quiet, have zero running costs and are good for the environment. They often require a lot of hard physical work and it is sometimes difficult to achieve a fine cut.
Electric – Electric mowers are usually cheaper to buy than petrol mowers, but are not as powerful as petrol mowers and usually come with a cord. Cordless electric mowers, however, are now also available and are well worth considering as battery technology is improving at such a rapid rate.
Petrol – Petrol mowers are the most powerful and are great for larger expanses of grass with the ability to cut very fine. They do however have the higher associated running costs of fuel and maintenance and leave a carbon footprint.
Now you’ve chosen your mower it’s time to consider when is the best time to cut your grass, what height should you cut at and how often should it be done?
When To Cut Your Grass
You should usually mow between March and October. In summer it is advised to mow twice weekly, although you may drop down to once a week during periods of drought. In the spring and the autumn seasons try and aim to mow at least once a week.
During the winter months mowing is usually not necessary, unless the weather is mild and the grass is still growing. In this case, mow occasionally with a high cut setting. Do not attempt to do this if the ground conditions are very soft or frozen, or during spells of cold, drying winds. Never mow wet or frosty grass, as this can damage the turf and compact the soil. Wait until later in the day when the lawn has dried out or defrosted, or postpone mowing to another day.
How To Cut Your Grass
Without sounding overly-patronising, mowing itself is straight forward. Pushing or driving whichever mower you have over the grass should cut the grass to give you a lower, neater grass height. However, getting the correct mowing height setting on your mower is slightly more tricky.
You should avoid excessively close mowing, as although attractive, it can weaken the grass, encouraging shallow rooting and making the lawn more susceptible to drought, weeds and moss. What is more, closely mown lawns need more frequent feeding and watering. Avoid extremely low cutting as this will damage and scalp the lawn, leaving bare patches where there are bumps or tree roots protruding above the surface.
How to Achieve a Striped Finish
Getting that all important beautiful striped finish and being the envy of all your neighbours isn’t that difficult to achieve. The effect of stripes you see on a lawn or playing field is simply light reflecting off the grass blades. Blades bent towards you look dark, while those bent the opposite way look lighter. You can even see some of the same effect with normal mowing. All you really need to do is get well defined stripes is make sure that your mower has a rear roller. Wheeled rotary mowers tend not to produce good quality striping without the help of a roller.
To achieve the best striped finish, you should start by mowing around the edge of your lawn and for square or rectangular lawns, work from the left side, mowing up and down the lawn using the straight lawn edge as a guide to get a straight line. For circular or irregular shaped lawns, line up the mower with a focal point to achieve an initial straight line across the widest point. This first straight line will act as your guide for subsequent stripes. Make sure at each turn, to line up the mower so that the next mown stripe slightly overlaps the last.
Finally, make sure you empty the clippings box regularly. A full box can deposit clumps of clippings on the lawn, spoiling the finish and clogging up the mower. It is also a good idea to vary the direction of cut, alternating straight with diagonal stripes on different occasions, so that ruts do not form in lawn from going backwards and forwards in the same direction on numerous occasions.
Hopefully this short and simple guide has helped you think about what you need to paying attention to in order to get your grass looking great over the summer months. It may be an idea to take a look at our other blog posts in order to learn more about other aspects of gardening or grounds maintenance.