5 Ways to Ruin Your Lawn by Mowing
5 Ways to Ruin Your Lawn by Mowing
If you’re reading this, you might just be learning that you can ruin your lawn by mowing it the wrong way. Or you might already know and just want confirmation that what you believe to be true is correct. Either way, it’s a proven fact that one of the steps to keeping a green lawn is to mow it the correct way. And, since everyone has to mow their grass, it’s important to know the right way to do it!
Cutting Your Grass Too Short
We’ve talked about this before, but we’ll say it again; don’t cut too much off your lawn! Sure, it may be tempting to let your grass grow and mow it down all at once. But this method will cause more harm to your lawn than you think. That’s why we recommend keeping your only mowing ⅓ off the height of your lawn. (See image below.)
That means, if your grass is 3” tall, you should only be mowing 1” off the top. But why is this so important? Grass that is cut too short is more susceptible to disease, drought, and weeds forming. (Keep in mind that when the grass is too short, more light can get in for new weeds to grow). And yes, this may require more mowings to keep your grass healthy but it’s worth it!
So how long should you keep your grass? In Minnesota, lawns can safely be kept around 3”. Keep in mind that longer grass creates a longer root system and is able to gather and retain water and nutrients better. This means fewer waterings and more money saved!
Never Sharpening Your Mower Blades
Grass that is cut with a dull blade essentially ends up tearing the grass versus cutting it. Have you ever seen a lawn where all the tips of the blades are brown? That’s usually caused by unsharpened blades. In extreme cases, it can lead the grass more susceptible to disease and can kill the grass.
In reality, grass that is cut with a sharp blade creates a clean cut on the plant. Clean cuts are able to heal fast and lose less water versus a torn cut. Another added benefit of sharpened blades is that mowing time usually becomes faster since the mower blades are able to slice through the grass better.
For most homeowners, sharpening mower blades are something that rarely (if not ever) gets done. So if you’re new to this, to keep your blades sharp, sharpen them every 25 hours. This typically comes out to 2 times per season. (Most professional lawn care companies sharpen their blades once a week.)
Pro Tip: Consider buying a spare blade so you always have a sharp one on hand.
Cutting Your Grass When It’s Wet
When grass blades are wet and slick, they are hard to cut with the mower’s blades. This makes wet grass more difficult to mow than dry grass. Even in you have the sharpest blades on the block, it still can take 2-3 times of mowing the same area. In addition, wet lawns that are saturated and sink when you step on them run the risk of compacting your soil and creating ruts.
If you have to cut your grass when it’s raining, try to get to it as early as you can. And if you have to cut the grass when it’s wet, be careful and go slow. If the grass is too wet, you may need to carefully clean the blades to prevent sticky grass buildup on the mower.
Mowing In the Same Direction Every Time
Each time you mow your lawn, your grass “learns” which direction it is being cut from. When you mow the next time, your grass will be leaning in the direction you previously. By varying the direction you mow, your lawn is less likely to create a lean, which will give it a healthy, straight appearance.
Other experts believe that if you mow your lawn in the same direction every time, you are more likely to create ruts in your lawn. Regardless of what you believe, it doesn’t hurt to change the direction you mow each time. Think of your lawn like a compass alternating between north, south, east, and west each time you begin to mow your lawn.
Always Bagging Grass Clippings
In most circumstances, you want to leave the grass clippings on your lawn. Not only is this less work for you but it provides beneficial nutrients for your lawn. And, leaving clippings on your lawn won’t cause thatch buildup which is a common misconception. Freshly cut grass blades are mainly composed of water and break down fairly quickly.
There are some instances where bagging your grass clippings may be needed. For instance, if your lawn is long and you are cutting a lot off, you may need to bag those clippings. Too many clippings won’t break down fast enough and will leave your lawn looking brown. (Keep in mind, you should only be mowing ⅓ off your grass!) Another reason to bag those clipping would be if your lawn has a grass disease that could potentially spread.
Repairs Take Time When you Ruin Your Lawn by Mowing
The biggest takeaway is that when you ruin your lawn mowing your grass needs time to repair. Sometimes this can account for a whole growing season just to get your lawn looking good again! If you don’t want to worry about sharpening blades or grass height, hire a licensed professional to do the work for you. Either way, you will save money in costly repairs if you mow your lawn right every time.
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