A few simple tips on mowing your lawn will go a long way to ensuring you get a nice even cut, without ripping, scalping or smothering the lawn each time you give the grass its regular haircut.
Don’t mow your lawn too short, as this can put your lawn under extreme stress. It can leave brown or bare looking patches on your lawn, and if cut too short regularly, can seriously deplete the lawn’s energy reserves and is an open invitation for weeds to invade and seed. A good guide is the ‘one-third rule’ – only remove one-third of the leaf each time you mow.
Guideline for ideal mowing heights
(General rule of thumb: shorter for summer, longer for winter)
Green couch: 5 to 30mm
Buffalo grass (Sir Walter): 30 to 50mm
Kikuyu: 30 to 50mm
Zoysia matrella (Sir Grange): 5 to unmown
Queensland blue couch: 5 to 30mm
Broadleaf carpet grass: 30 to 50mm
Hybrid Bermuda (TifTuf): 5 to 30mm
Fescue: 30 to 50mm
It is ok to leave your clippings on the lawn every now and again, as clippings are a great source of nitrogen and can act as a natural fertiliser for your lawn. Recycling your grass clippings back into your lawn can actually account for 25% of its annual nitrogen requirements.
If you are using a regular mower you should only be leaving small amounts of clippings every so often. If you have a mulching mower which cuts the clippings up much finer, then it is ok to leave the clippings on your lawn, so long as they aren’t left in clumps and they are evenly distributed.
You definitely need to take the type of grass you have into consideration when deciding whether to catch your clippings. If you have a couch lawn and are looking for a manicured finish, it’s always best to catch your clippings. If you have a buffalo or kikuyu lawn, you can generally follow the instructions provided above.
Mowing in different directions not only minimises ‘mownotony’, it also contributes to a healthy lawn by encouraging the individual blades to grow straight, which in turn provides more space for new blades to grow. Ultimately, this gives you a thicker lawn.
If you have a different grass in one area, say front to back, wash or clean down your mower before transitioning to the other grass type. Some grasses like kikuyu for example, can be easily transported into other varieties where they can quickly start to invade and spread. Ideally you should try to install the same grass in all areas if you are looking to keep your grass variety clean.
If you want a consistent cut, you need to stick to a consistent pace when mowing. If you race over one area and are much slower in another, the grass is likely going to be cut inconsistently with bouncing and movement creating differentiation in the height of cut.
Keep your mower well maintained; sharp blades are crucial for a good cut. Blunt blades tend to tear, rather than cut the lawn.
Reel mowers, cylinder mowers in particular, will have a better quality of cut due to the slicing ‘scissor’ action. This action is superior to that of the chopping action of a rotary mower, when comparing both with sharp well-maintained blades.
Having said this, a rotary mower with sharp blades and decent power produces a good enough cut that most people would be happy with.
Rain is great for fertilising, but not ideal for mowing. Mowing when the grass is wet can damage the leaf blades as they will tear rather than cut, leaving an uneven edge. This can give a ‘chopped’ look to your lawn. Wait until the lawn has dried out after rain or irrigation before you mow.
When mowing, do so earlier in the day or as the sun has started to go down again. The hot sun in the middle of the day is more likely to do damage to the freshly cut lawn, so doing so when it is cooler will cause less stress to the leaf.
Avoid long periods between mows – regular mowing is best. Keep in mind that your mowing routine may also need to change with the seasons. Warm season varieties like Kikuyu and Couch, for example, love hot summers and will have vigorous growth during this time. Regularly mowing your lawn promotes lateral growth and allows more of the sun’s rays to get amongst the leaf of your lawn.
If you have lumps or depressions in your lawn it can be a good idea to top dress your lawn. During the active growing season is the best time. Information on top dressing can be found here. Levelling and topdressing will help to ensure a more even cut with less scalping.
Consider the amount you are willing to mow when choosing a turf variety. Some types of grass will require more frequent mowing than others. Mowing frequency will be an important aspect of maintaining a healthy lawn.
Anything we have missed?
Let us know what mowing tips you have found works best on your lawn.