How to mow your lawn
Is it really that time of year again? I love it when spring weather means my woolly hat and gloves can stay in the cupboard and the daffodils are dancing in the garden. I’m not so sure about having to begin the weekly regime of fetching petrol from the garage and cranking up the lawnmower.
Having said that, I do love to see, and smell, a newly mown lawn. So I’m rolling up my sleeves and making a start.
Little and often
The number one rule for mowing the lawn is “little and often”. So many gardeners let their lawn grow long and then scalp it. They think they’re saving themselves work. In fact this type of mowing is harder on the lawn and the person doing the mowing.
I have a largish lawn. Whenever I’ve let the grass get too long it’s taken 90 minutes to mow it. If I face up to it twice a week, it takes 30-40 minutes AND I don’t get nearly so tired.
At the start of the season
If you haven’t already serviced your lawnmower, do it now. It’s not my area of expertise so I get help with the servicing. Always always always make sure you start the season with really sharp blades. And get them sharpened a couple of times during the spring and summer too. It makes a really big difference to the ease and the effectiveness of your mowing.
The first cut of the year
Move any lawn ornaments, toys and bits of debris. Then give your lawn a quick tickle with a rake. This will take out any dead grass and debris. More importantly it will encourage the grass blades to stand up straight – so you can mow them.
Set the mower on its highest setting. At this time of year there is still a risk of frost so it would be daft to put the grass under a lot of stress by cutting it really short.
Mow around the edges first to give yourself an area to turn around on. Then mow up and down.
Remove all of the clippings and put them on the compost heap.
That’s it. Done. Now empty the grass bag and brush the clippings off the blade before putting the mower back to bed for a while.
How often should you mow?
Depends on how quickly the grass grows. In March and April it’s still pretty nippy in Scotland so don’t expect the grass to romp away. You will probably need to mow once a week though just to keep things neat. Don’t forget to trim the edges of the lawn to give that lovely manicured look.
Mowing little and often puts less stress on the grass and results in a healthier, more robust lawn
During May and June you may find yourself mowing twice a week. That’s good. Remember, little and often. Every hour you spend mowing the lawn you burn off around 240 calories. That’s 2 bananas or a Mars Bar.
In summer, if the weather is dry the grass may not grow much at all. Enjoy the rest for come September you’ll be out there mowing again at least once a week…maybe even until November. Once the first frosts arrive it’s probably best to book the mower in for a service and keep off the lawn unless it gets really untidy.
What height should your lawn be?
There are a lot of different opinions on how long lawn grass should be. My Dad keeps his at about 1.5 - 2.5 cm high. It's neat but the grass does look pale and needs frequent feeding.
I like to maintain my lawn at about 2 inches (5cm) long all year round. That may sound a bit too long for you and it certainly wouldn’t do on a golf green. Try it though. You may be surprised. I find that the grass feels nicer to walk on, it stays greener for longer in the summer and it copes well with the stresses and strains of being played on by 3 grandchildren and 3 dogs.
Which direction should you mow?
I try to walk in a different direction each time I mow. Sometimes I’ll walk away from the patio and back again, sometimes I’m parallel to the patio, sometimes I’m diagonal. I like the variety. No – honestly, it’s because I don’t want to encourage the grass blades to just grow in one direction. I want them to stand up straight and look lovely and velvety. So I move them in different ways every time I mow.