How often is lawn mowing doing more harm that you might think?
Lawn mowing is one of those garden tasks that many people think they can do themselves. Some get it right and do a wonderful job; others are regularly getting it wrong. Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn how much harm you can do to your lawn by not getting the basics right.
What it is that you need to know before mowing your lawn?
When it comes to lawn mowing there are really three main considerations; height, direction of cut and frequency. Let’s look at each of them in turn.
It’s a fine balance between keeping the grass tidy and looking superb, along with allowing the grass to have enough leaf to photosynthesise and remain healthy. Plants use the green pigment in their leaves, along with sunlight, to synthesise nutrients from carbon dioxide and water. Remove too much leaf and you are reducing the ability of the grass plants in your lawn to create food. Weakening the grasses and allowing diseases to take hold. The grass dies back leaving bare patches where weed seeds and moss spores can settle, germinate and spoil the appearance of your lawn.
By all means mow your lawn short, but don’t do it suddenly. Only ever reduce the mowing height gradually over time. If you want to mow short then ensure growing conditions are right. Warm but not too hot. Moist, but not too much rain, and of course adequate fertiliser. Speak to a lawn care professional to ensure your lawn is receiving the treatments it needs to keep it healthy before you reduce its chances of feeding itself.
Change your mowing height
Ideally you should be varying the cut height throughout the growing season. Starting high as grass growth slowly begins in spring. Lowering as the growing season warms up and growth is more vigorous. Raising the height again in the dry, hot weeks of summer when the longer grass will protect the soil from drying out and capture more dew overnight to help water the lawn. Then, gradually lowering again with the lush growth that comes in autumn. Finally you want to be going into winter with longer grass, better able to survive the stressful bad weather.
Humans are by nature creatures of habit. Think about your day and the things you do regularly, the same way each time. We get ready for bed in the same order or drive to work the same route. It makes things easier for us as we don’t have to think about the mundane stuff. We just do it. Most people are the same with their lawn mowing. Rarely do they vary their approach or direction of mow. They start at point A and finish at point B.
As you mow your lawn, the weight of the mower and the forward motion pushes the grass leaf in the direction you are mowing. Over time the grass begins to lean over this way making it harder to get a clean cut. Varying the direction of mow helps to promote healthy grass growth and makes for a more attractive lawn. It also reduces the chance of ruts forming from the wheels of the mower pressing into the turf repeatedly.
How often should I mow my lawn?
Now to look at mowing frequency; let’s face it, we are all busy people. Most of us work hard all week and often hard on the weekend too. Speak to those lucky enough to be retired and they usually tell you they’ve never been busier. When we are busy or tired there is a tendency not to get everything done on time. The problem with mowing is that the grass just keeps on growing. Miss a mow and it’s longer than ever.
As the grass plants grow taller the stems of the plants extended into your cutting zone. When you do finally catch up you are inevitably taking off too much leaf. Cutting into the stem of the grass shocks the plant. Making it less able to recover from the mow and more susceptible to diseases and die-back. Plus the lawn looks scalped and untidy.
Mowing can feel like a never-ending job and grass growth can be unforgiving. Lawn care professionals have access to growth suppressants. Applied to your lawn they reduce growing height and encourage more compact, dense growth. They also encourage root growth, creating a more drought tolerant lawn. Speak to a lawn care professional to find out more.
Mowing is a Marmite kind of job; those that love it, really love it and those that don’t, thoroughly hate it. After all, if you work hard all week, or if you are at a stage in life where hard work is behind you, then maybe there is something else you’d rather be doing than mowing the lawn. Create some you-time and leave your lawn care to the professionals. You might be surprised by how affordable a professional lawn care plan is and I’m certain you’ll be impressed by the professional results.