A well-manicured lawn is a thing of beauty. Though there are some tips of the trade that can help you make sure that you are cutting your grass at the right time and in the right way to make your lawn look its very best.
Determining The Cutting Height
Just how high to cut your grass is a major factor in creating a beautifully manicured lawn. The prevailing weather conditions and the composition of your soil will influence how high to cut your lawn. In certain cases, the type of grass might also be a factor.
If the weather has been sunny, warm, wet, and is forecasted to stay that way for a while then you might want to dial the height of your lawnmower’s cutting deck down to an inch or perhaps a little lower. Especially if you have a fast-growing type of grass like Bermuda or fine fescue. This helps you stay ahead of the growth.
If things have been hot, dry, and look to stay that way for a while, then you want to set your cutting deck higher. This will let the blades of grass shade the turf, which will preserve soil moisture. Unless you have a drought-resistant grass like buffalo grass, you could even set the cutting deck height of your mower to 3-inches or more. Especially if you know your subsoil is sandy and does a poor job holding water.
Determining Your Cutting Schedule
There are some people who just set a schedule of cutting the grass every Saturday or Sunday. The clockwork precision might play nicely with their weekly schedule, but it might not be the best for keeping a healthy, vibrant lawn.
Here again, you want the grass and the weather to tell you when to cut it. Once a week might suffice when things are growing fast in the peak of summer sun and rain. If the weather takes a turn toward the hot and dry, you might want to give your lawn 10 to 14 days between mowing sessions.
Choosing The Right Time Of Day To Mow Your Lawn
Once again, the weather might be a factor. If your area has been hit by an oppressive summer heatwave, you might want to plan on mowing your grass in the morning. That way you can spare yourself some of the relentless heat that turns cutting the grass into a chore.
Just make sure that the morning dew is starting to burn off before you start cutting your grass. Even if it means waiting an extra half hour, you never want to cut your grass when it’s wet. This could clog up the cutting deck, the side-discharge chute or leave stuck-on grass clippings in the bagger. Not to mention that wet grass is more likely to be knocked down rather than cut, which leads to an inefficient harvest rate.
Changing Up Your Mowing Pattern
There are some people who seem to be born with a special gene that inspires them to find the most efficient way to do things. While this might be a little bit of a time-saver, it’s not always best to follow the same predictable pattern when mowing your lawn.
If you are incredibly predictable with your mowing pattern, your grass could start to lean in the direction of your common mowing path. In time, you could even end up with ruts and scalping problems.
Ideally, you want to switch between a cross-hatch mowing pattern and a pattern of rows or columns. Not only does this create visual appeal, it helps keep your grass from falling into one stuck pattern.
Dealing With Grass Clippings
It might seem like a simple thing to just let your spent grass clippings spill out the side discharge chute. If you are mowing your lawn frequently, the tiny pieces of harvested grass might simply decompose back into the underlying layers of the turf. This could even provide the roots with a boost of nitrogen for more vigorous growth.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case with grass clippings from side-discharge lawnmowers. What usually happens is that the harvested grass clippings are deposited back onto the turf only to dry out before they have a chance to decompose. When this happens, they become “Thatch” which is notoriously poor at decomposing.
Over time dried thatch can get so thick that mats of it create a barrier preventing water, air and key nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass deep down in the turf. This can lead to dead spots, slow-growing grass, and a lawn that looks just as gray or brown as it does green.
Once this happens, your lawn will need aeration. In fact, there are many homeowners who aerate their lawn every spring right before fertilizing. The loosened soil helps the lawn to grow vibrant and green.
If your lawnmower is only set up for side discharge, you might want to consider a little light raking after every mowing session. You don’t have to be meticulous about it, but you do want to get the grassy clumps if possible.
Mulching & Bagging Mowers Help Deal With Grass Clippings
These days lawnmower manufacturers are putting forth a concerted effort to offer models that can do more than just side discharge grass clippings. Some 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 lawnmowers can be set up to mulch or bag the harvested grass clippings.
Mulching is essentially a special process that minces the harvested grass clippings into tiny pieces. This makes it easier for them to decompose back into the layers of the turf, feeding the lawn nitrogen, without drying into choking thatch.
Bagging takes a different angle on the grass clippings problem. Instead of mulching the harvested grass into tiny bits, it uses a discharge port to collect them in a bag, bin, or collection container. Once it nears capacity, you simply go to the garden or the compost pile and dump them out.