All lawns need mowing. Mowing your lawn is the most important task in lawn care and it is the maintenance task that is required most frequently.
Mowing actually helps make your grass grow thicker and stronger because the tip of each blade of grass contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When you cut the lawn, you are removing the tips and the hormones which then allows the grass to spread and grow outward faster. This helps deter weeds by keeping the lawn thicker, and regular mowing also removes any brown or damaged tips.
Choosing a lawn mower
There are lots of different lawn mowers available to buy. You should take some time to consider what type of mower you need for your lawn as it will probably be the most used piece of power gardening equipment. There are a number of things to consider.
Lawn Size – For big lawns a mower with a wide cut will reduce the amount of time spent mowing.
Petrol or Electric – An electric lawn mower is suited to smaller gardens as a sufficient extension cable is needed for the mower to work. If you have a large garden a petrol lawn mower makes mowing your lawn a lot easier. A ride on lawn mower in turn makes it even easier!
Ease of Use – You need to be able to operate your lawn mower with ease. Operational use and comfort are both important factors.
Maintenance & Servicing – Are you able to maintain the lawn mower as advised to keep it in good working order?
Machine Features – Cutting width and height, weight of machine, grass collecting capability and blade type are all features that should be considered.
Cost – Cost is always a large consideration, however buying the cheapest is not always the best option. Likewise, choosing an expensive mower does not guarantee you the best machine – you need to consider all of the factors.
Cylinder or Rotary Mowers
The two main types of mowers available are cylinder or rotary.
A cylinder mower uses a continuous scissor action, cutting the grass with blades on a rotating cylinder against a bottom blade. This is an energy efficient method of cutting and generally always produces a smooth cut. This type of mower is ideal for creating a closely mown lawn, and it often does so without scalping. Another benefit is that it does not throw hard objects like stones or twigs into the air. While it is good for creating a close, short lawn it is not ideally suited to long grass. This type of mower requires regular maintenance often encompassing special sharpening equipment.
A rotary mower uses a blade that is parallel to the ground. It spins at high speed and makes light work of cutting tall grass. Rotary mowers are easy to maintain and sharpen. This style of mower is generally quite easy to manoeuvre, but the down side is that the machine can be dangerous if metal blades are used. They are more likely to scalp uneven turf than a cylinder motor and are not that good for creating a striped lawn.
Mowing depends on the rate of your lawns growth. Grass lies dormant in winter so no mowing will be required during the months of December to March.
Throughout the rest of the year the mowing will be determined by the rate of growth. The shorter your grass is the more frequently it will need to be cut. If you cut your grass and it looks brown and dead this is due to taking too much off in the one cutting. This is not good for the grass and stresses it. You should always use a sharp mower and cut little off, but often. In spring and summer you can cut the grass up to three times per week.
The direction of mowing should be varied as often as possible as this helps to maintain a natural looking turf sward, without creating a strong, noticeable grain. It is important to do this to get an even, natural looking lawn.
A striped lawn looks very striking and isn’t that difficult to achieve if your mower has a rear roller.
- Start by mowing around the edge of the lawn.
- For square or rectangular lawns, work from the left side, mowing in one direction using the lawn edge as a guide.
- At the edge turn your lawn mower carefully and work down beside the first strip of cut.
- At each turn, line up the mower so that the next stripe slightly overlaps the last.
- Once finished striping it is a good idea to go around the perimeter one more time as this tidies up any messy edges creating when turning.
- Tight corners may need additional work if they are inaccessible for your mower. Shears or a strimmer may be more effective.
- Empty the clippings box regularly. A full box can deposit clumps of clippings on the lawn, spoiling the finish and clogging the mower.
Many people like to leave the cut grass on the lawn so that the clippings release nutrients back into the soil. This isn’t advisable if you are trying to create a turfed lawn. Leaving clippings will produce a drought resistant sward that is likely to have a bright appearance, however it will also be a softer turf that is susceptible to disease. More weeds are likely to sprout and you may also notice an increase in worms and worm cast on the lawn. A fertiliser should be applied as necessary if the clippings are removed as valuable nutrients are removed from the grass environment.
Always use a sharp blade and cut the grass when it is dry. Cutting wet grass or dry grass with dull blades results in ripped grass swards that are bruised. The tips of grass cut like this often go brown.
Proper maintenance will help increase the longevity of your mower. A mower that has been properly maintained will provide optimum cutting results. After each use the mower should be cleaned properly, removing any cut grass and dirt. Always be careful when working with a mower – make sure the power cable is unplugged or the spark plug is disconnected. If you own a mower that has an air filter this should be cleaned regularly to avoid build up and clogging. Follow the manufacturers hand book for further safety checks, such as fixers and fastenings. Refuel as needed, taking care not to spill any fuel on the mower.