Lawn Mowing

Keeping your lawn healthy and well groomed

Lawn mowing, although often overlooked, greatly effects your lawns appearance and general health.

Mowing tips

  • Don't cut your grass too short, particular for cool season grasses. Higher heights usually provide for a deeper root system, looks better, and is less likely to have weeds invading, particularly crabgrass.

  • Don't remove any more than one third of the grass leaf at any one cutting. If circumstances arise that a lawn gets too tall and you just have to lop off a bunch to get caught up, bite the bullet and break it down into several mowings to get caught up with 3 or so days between cuttings.

  • Try to avoid mowing when the grass is wet.

  • When mowing only a third with each cutting, you can safely leave clippings that will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Contrary to popular opinion, grass clippings do not add to thatch buildup. Grass blades are made up of about 75% water.

  • Mow your lawn in a different direction with each mowing, especially with lawns of shorter grass types. Altering the direction ensures a more even cut since grass blades will grow more erect and less likely to develop into a set pattern.

  • Keep your mower's blade sharp, which means having it sharpened several times during the mowing season. Keep several blades around so you'll always have a sharp one on hand.

  • Don't forget to change your mower's oil at least once during the mowing season.

  • If you didn't drain your gas tank in the fall, or use a fuel stabilizer, don't use that old gas, it can cause a number of problems. Better to use fresh gasoline to begin the new mowing season.

Selecting the right mowing height

All grass varieties should be mowed at or near their optimal mowing height. This will keep grass healthy and dense (highest number of shoots per unit area). Higher density means more soil surface shading, which severely restricts the germination of many annual grassy and broadleaf weeds. Maintaining a dense and healthy lawn is the best weed control.

Grass Variety

Mowing Height Range
(inches)

Optimal Mowing
Height
(inches)

Normal Mowing
Frequency
(days)

Buffalograss

2.0 — 4.0

2.5

7 — 14

Centipedegrass

1.5 — 2.5

2.0

7 — 14

Common Bermudagrass

1.0 — 3.0

1.5

3 — 7

Hybrid Bermudagrass

0.75 — 2.0

1.0

3 — 7

Kentucky Bluegrass

1.5 — 3.0

2.0

5 — 7

St. Augustinegrass

2.5 — 4.0

2.5

5 — 7

Tall Fescue

2.0 — 4.0

2.5

7 — 14

Texas Bluegrass (Reveille)

1.5 — 3.0

2.0

5 — 7

Zoysia japonica
(coarse bladed Zoysia)

1.0 — 2.5

1.5

7 — 10

Zoysia matrella (fine bladed Zoysia)

0.75 — 2.5

1.0

5 — 7

Safe mowing tips

The center for Childhood Safety offers these tips for safe lawn mowing:

  • Keep children and pets out of the yard while mowing.

  • Do a walk-through of the area before you begin mowing. Clear the area of large sticks or other debris.

  • Wear clothing that offers some protection, like sturdy shoes with non-slip soles to provide good traction. Wear eye protection, like glasses, sunglasses, or goggles, while mowing.

  • Read the operating guide for your mower. Make sure you understand all of its safety features prior to use. Make sure your new power mower has a "deadman" control that stops the mower if you let go of the handle. Do not disable this or other safety features of your mower.

  • Do not cut the lawn when it's raining, lightning, or when the grass is slippery.

  • Adolescents should be at least 12 years of age before they operate lawn-mowing equipment. Discuss lawn mower safety with all of your children.

  • Never allow young children to ride alone on a riding mower.

  • Caution adolescents who are operating lawn-mowing equipment to avoid carelessly placing hands near power blades. Do not clean the grass exit with your hands.

  • Do not push a lawn mower onto the pavement. The lawn keeps objects from being hurled at a high speed. On the pavement, there is no such protection.

  • Make sure your mower is in good working condition at all times.

  • Do not operate a mower when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment.

Americans use an estimated 38 million lawn mowers to trim their lawns, according to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
Spending an hour behind a roaring lawn mower can spew nearly the same amount of oily pollution into the air as a 100-mile car trip, according to a Swedish study.

Source: Environmental Science and Technology, the journal of the American Chemical Society.
A sharp blade cuts cleanly and guess what? You use less fuel! So keep on checking those blades for sharpness and nicks.