Top tips on how to mow your lawn

Written by jenny green Google
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Top tips on how to mow your lawn
(Lumi Images/Patrick Frost/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images)

Your lawn mower will probably be one of your most-used pieces of power gardening equipment, so take some time to consider what type of mower you need before purchasing one.

— Royal Horticultural Society

Aneatly mown lawn is the crowning glory of a garden, and a few insider tips turn lawn mowing from a gardening chore into a pleasure. Grass is resilient stuff that puts up with the kids playing football, mum and dad sunbathing on deckchairs, and the family dog peeing and trying to bury bones. Mowing a lawn too short can weaken the grass, however, while letting it grow too long is an invitation to weeds to take over. Like Goldilocks, you need to find the "just right" solution to mowing your lawn.

The Right Lawnmower

Choosing the right lawnmower can be more difficult than buying a car nowadays, given the range on offer, but a few handy tips helps narrow down your selection.

• Cylinder mowers are the sports cars of the lawnmower range, designed to give the highest quality cuts on fine lawns. If you're a lawn geek with a weed-free, fine turf lawn and you want a traditional, striped lawn finish, this is the mower for you, but your lawn must be bowling-green flat.

• If your lawn is sloped or less than perfectly level, a rotary mower can handle the sloping and uneven areas, and cut grass that's too long for a cylinder mower. A rotary mower doesn't give as fine a cut, but it can leave stripes.

• Mulching mowers are rotary mowers that are slightly more environmentally friendly than the standard type. Rotary mowers usually come fitted with a box for collecting the grass clippings, but a mulching mower chops the clippings finely and spreads them out over the grass, which returns the grass nutrients to the lawn.

• A hover mower glides on a cushion of air, allowing free movement over bumpy or sloping lawn, and dealing with longer grass, but there's no striped lawn effect with this mower.

• A ride-on mower is the Rolls Royce of mowers, and a must for those with more lawn than time to mow it. Cylinder or rotary ride-on mowers both cost a pretty penny, but cut down significantly on mowing time.

Spring and Autumn

When grass is growing it needs mowing. Lawns usually grow very little over winter, but when grass growth starts up in spring, and when it slows down in autumn, weekly mowing, and allowing the grass to grow slightly long, are the keys to a healthy lawn.

• Set your mower blades to 3.5 cm (1.25 in), and begin mowing your lawn when grass growth starts up in spring.

• Mow up and down the lawn or across from side to side, and mow the lawn the opposite way the following week, to cut the grass from both directions and keep it growing evenly.

• Spring and autumn weather is often wet, but walking on a wet lawn compacts the soil and can damage the turf. Wait for a dry day before mowing.

• Grass grows slowly in shady and dry areas, and may only need mowing every other week. Let the grass be your guide to how often you need to mow.

Summer Mowing

Summer is lawn mowing season, and there are few pleasures greater than relaxing on a summer's evening, with a glass of your favourite tipple, enjoying the scent and sight of a freshly mown lawn.

• Set your lawnmower blades to 2 cm (1 inch) high in summer.

• Mow your lawn twice a week, or more often if needed. Aim to remove about one-quarter of the grass length.

• Grass stops growing in drought conditions. If the weather is dry and your lawnmower isn't collecting many clippings, stop mowing your lawn to reduce stress on the grass and allow it to cope better with drought. If your lawn turns brown, don't worry, it'll almost certainly recover when rain returns in autumn.

Tips and warnings

  • Edging your lawn is just as important as mowing for a neat finish. After mowing, trim the lawn edge with edging shears or a trimmer. Every spring, re-cut the edges with a half moon edging spade. Lawn weeds such as buttercups, daisies and clover, provide food and a habitat that helps replace our declining meadows. Consider allowing an area of lawn to grow a few inches long to provide a wildlife haven in your garden.

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