Maybe you’re not concerned with “how to cut grass” and just want green grass. Is there really a wrong way to mow?
Ask any Property Care or Fertilization expert and they’ll assure you— there is. Proper turf care can promote the lush lawn you’ve always dreamed of, while negligent or sloppy cuts can really cause unnecessary stress on your grass.
Give your yard the quality lawn care it deserves with these seven helpful insights:
1. Avoid Cutting Too Short, AKA “Scalping”
Cutting grass too short is typically referred to as “scalping.” There are two big reasons scalping can be harmful to your lawn.
First off, when you trim too far, you may expose the soil. Not only does this leave your turf vulnerable to disease, but it also creates the perfect foundation for weeds. Because the soil is more easily accessible, those white, fuzzy seeds your kids blow off of dandelions have better chance of taking root and gaining momentum from more exposure and sunshine.
Second, consistently trimming your turf too short can start to affect the development of your root system. As your system weakens, so will the thickness of your grass and its resistance to drought or extreme temperatures.
Quick turf care tip: The proper trim height depends largely on your grass type and the time of the year, but typically for Massachusetts’s lawns, we recommend cutting to an average height of three inches or higher. See the next turf care tip, “Adjusting Mower Height,” for more information!
2. Adjust Your Mower Height Each Season
Although you never want to “scalp” your yard, your grass should be trimmed to different heights depending on the time of the year.
Starting late spring into summer, bump your mower deck higher to ensure at least three-inch tall cut. Taller grass can protect soil from the blaring sun, which allows the ground to retain more water and prevents weed growth. As we previously mentioned, a healthy growing turf also means deeper development of your grass root system, creating the lush lawn you desire.
During late fall, lower the mower deck to about two and a half inches to prevent molding or damage to your turf when the first snow hits and compacts your yard. This also makes leaf clean up easier.
Quick turf care tip: You may be tempted to knock the blade height down further— because shorter grass means you have to mow less, right? Not quite. Remember, cutting more than one-third of a blade of grass can cause real damage to the plant structure. Aim to mow more frequently, not more aggressively.
3. Sharpen Your Mower Blades Often
It’s not surprising that a sharper mower blade makes a cleaner cut. Blades that begin to dull can create jagged edges on your grass or produce uneven patterns. These inconsistencies in your turf could create openings for pests and disease to breed and can also ruin the aesthetic of a neat trim.
For a clean cut, blades should be sharpened a few times a year. We’d go as far as to recommend taking them to a professional, local sharpener once every active season. For companies like ours that cut a lot of grass, we sharpen them a few times a week!
Quick turf care tip: Most mower shops don’t charge much for a quick sharpening, however, consider stocking up on multiple blades so that as one gets dull, you have a spare to use right away and can wait to take the other dull blades to a shop in one trip.
4. Stick to One Pattern Per Mow, But Alternate Directions Often
Although we recommend mowing in the same direction each time you mow, always taking the same path week after week can cause wear on your turf. Mowing the same lines every Saturday could cause soil compaction and form indented rut paths.
Plus, grass leans in the direction you mow it, so switching up the pattern from week to week can help your lawn grow straighter.
Quick turf care tip: Did you know that looking directly down as you mow can throw off your equilibrium and potentially cause crooked trim jobs? Try to focus at least ten feet ahead as your mow to maintain clean, straight lines.
5. Mow Only When Your Grass is Dry
Are you mowing your hillside or are you playing Slip ‘N Slide? When dealing with heavy machinery with moving blades, nothing is more dangerous than slipping on wet grass.
In addition to basic safety measures, wet grass is just a nightmare for both your equipment and your turf itself. It can clog your mower’s deck, clumping and falling off the mower as you cut. When soggy grass is ran over on your next sweep, it often creates uneven structure. Soggy soil also makes it easier for heavy machinery to sink and compact the soil, creating ruts and tearing up the turf.
Quick turf care tip: If you have to mow when your grass is still little damp, put some silicone spray beneath your mower’s deck to prevent the grass from clinging to the undercarriage. Fluid Film is a good biodegradable option for this.
6. Be Mindful of Extreme Heat
The hot sun wreaks havoc on both your grass and your unprotected skin. Trimming causes stress on your grass, and if you mow during the hottest part of the day, your turf can lose water when it needs it the most to recover. Plus, those beating rays can dry you out too, so mowing in the evening can protect you from an annoying sunburn.
Any mechanic will tell you to never touch a hot engine, so be weary of overheating your machine or burning yourself on its metal parts while refueling. We generally suggest filling up your gas tank prior to each time you use your mower.
Quick turf care tip: Shade is your friend. Not only do plants tend to lose less moisture when shielded from the sun, but it also gives your grass a great likelihood of rebounding quicker from each cut. Consider adding trees and other landscaping that shelters your turf from direct sun exposure.
7. Consider “Grasscycling”
What’s “grasscycling?” It’s just like it sounds: “recycling” the nutrients from your grass clippings by allowing them to fertilize your turf.
In fact, occasionally leaving your grass clippings behind instead of bagging them can save you the extra cost and hassle of frequently fertilizing your lawn. For those who like the look of a “clean” lawn, pick up the clippings more often, but give your lawn a seasonal treat, allowing the clippings to nourish every few months for a little extra boost and a more lush lawn.
Quick turf care tip: Do you hate being trapped in a whirlwind of grass clippings as you mow? Consider investing in an adaptor kit of your mower that can control the direction and intensity of its release.
Create a Landscape You’re Proud Of
Looking for ways to promote a greener, lush lawn? Lucky for you, we’re here to help you maintain the nicest property in your neighborhood.
Be sure to download your very own copy of our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal for six ways to instantly increase your property and home value.
Thinking it’s about time you trusted a specialized landscaping company to maintain your property? Great, take back your weekend! Our team is here to lend a hand with all your turf care needs.
We always say, hire a professional— you’ll be glad you did.