Regular lawn mowing is the single best thing you can do to achieve a lawn that will be the envy of your neighbours. A well manicured lawn is a thing of beauty, but the relatively simple task of mowing can be a bit more complicated than it first appears. Let us answer some of the most common questions to help you make the cut.
When to start cutting grass?
As a general rule your first grass cut of the year should be in early Spring. Depending on weather and temperatures at the particular time, the last week in February or the first week in March is a great time to start.
Aim to make the first mow just before the weather starts to warm up, keeping the mower blades high just take the tops off of the grass. This will stimulate the grass to grow and encourage it to thicken up, helping to keep out weeds and moss.
Can you cut grass in the winter?
The simple answer is YES! Grass can still grow through the winter months, especially if it is unseasonably warm. We have seen lawns which still need regular cuts in December while the weather has stayed particularly mild.
However, when mowing in the winter you need take a few precautions:
Frost on your lawn can make the grass brittle. Simply walking on a frosted lawn can damage or even kill the grass underneath. If you try to mow you will likely kill or severely stress the lawn, inviting disease. Wait for a mild and dry day at least a couple of days after a frost.
Avoid waterlogged lawns
Lawns tend to lie wetter in winter. If the lawn is too wet walking or mowing can compact the soil. This will close any little air pockets around the roots of the plant and will starve it of oxygen. Diseases such as Rust thrive in these conditions so it is best to wait for a few dry days in a row before attempting a mow
Clear rubbish and debris
A lawn mower is not a vacuum cleaner! If you use the mower to pick up leaves and twigs etc this will blunt the blade rapidly. This will cause the blade to tear at the grass rather than cutting it cleanly. Tearing grass leaves it susceptible to disease and fungus so it’s always best to rake up or use a blower to clear any rubbish first.
Keep it long
Shorter days in winter means less natural light falls onto your lawn. Sunlight is the source by which plants make food via photosynthesis. If you scalp a lawn in winter it will struggle to produce enough food to survive. A longer blade ( usually 1 ½ – 2 inches ) will promote a stronger plant, deeper roots and a more resilient lawn, which will green up faster in the spring.
How often should you mow your lawn?
Every lawn is different and grows at a different rate. A lawn full of fine fescues may grow slower than a 100% ryegrass lawn, and a shady lawn will grow slower than one in full sun.
A general rule would be to never remove more than a third of the grass height in a single mow. This stresses the plant and can lead to a “scalped” look. Little and often mowing on the other hand will promote the grass to spread sideward (tillering) and produce a much greener thicker lawn.
Example lawn mowing routine
January – February: Little or no mowing required depending on the weather
March: One or two mows this month, roughly once a fortnight but a high cut just to neaten things up
April – May: At least once per week will be necessary, perhaps even twice a week if growth is vigorous. The warmer temperatures and still moist ground will cause grass to grow at its fastest rate of the year.
June – August: Once per week is usually often enough at this time of year. Growth will be more steady as soil moisture drops. If there is a drought and things go very dry it may be best to stop mowing and leave the grass long until the rain returns.
September – October: Once per week, maybe twice per week if growth is strong. This can be a period of rapid growth similar to the spring. The soil is warm from the summer and rains will have restored moisture meaning growing conditions are great. Don’t be tempted to pack away the mower too soon.
November – December: Once per fortnight should be enough to keep the lawn tidy. Lawns can grow faster than expected while temperatures are mild.
When should you stop cutting grass?
The simple answer is when it has stopped growing and no longer needs it. Usually this will be in late November or early December. Frosts can put a stop to growth so mow up until the first hard frosts then its usually time to service the mower ready for next year.
What is the best time of day to cut grass?
Mid morning or late afternoon is usually the best time to mow the lawn. If done too early in the morning the lawn will be damp with dew which can cause the grass to tear rather than cut cleanly, leading to disease.
Midday can be too hot, the intense sun can stress the newly cut grass but it is not too bad a time.
Late evening can be too late. Once cut the plant produces sap which helps it heal, this takes time and if cut too late the plant is open to attack from fungus and disease in the dark damp night.
How short should I cut the lawn?
We recommend a mowing height of 1- 1 ½ inches ( 25 – 30 mm) for a lawn to produce the best cut. Mowing less than this can lead to scalping, while leaving it too long can make it difficult to cut unless you have a very powerful petrol mower. The higher you mow the grass the deeper the roots will go, deeper roots can reach water and nutrients more easily, leading to a hardy lawn that can cope with stress.
What sort of mower should I use?
There are two main sorts of mower, cylinder and rotary. A cylinder is better suited for very flat lawns and will not cope with long grass so will need to be mowed very often to achieve best results.
A rotary mower will not cut as cleanly as a cylinder but will be much more forgiving and versatile, cutting longer grass and coping with undulations. For most lawns we recommend this type of mower.
Tips for a Perfect Lawn
Sharpen those blades
Regardless of which mower you choose they are all cutting the grass leaf with a blade. If your mower blade is blunt it will tear at the grass.
When a blade of grass is cut it releases sap to heal the wound. The cleaner the cut the easier it is for the plant to repair itself. When torn the blade not only takes longer to heal, leaving it open to attack from fungus and disease, you may also see this sap as a brown area on the tip of the leaf so the lawn can look brown and stressed if improper mowing technique is used.
It is common for new mowers to have a mulch function. This means that the mower recycles the clippings around the mower so that instead of cutting once, it chops them up very finely and they can be left on the surface and will disappear easily.
These can work well but usually work better when grass is kept slightly longer and you will have to mow more frequently. If done too irregularly large clumps will be left on the surface which will suffocate the lawn and could kill it.