Tips for mowing your lawn...

Tips For Mowing Your Lawn Properly…

Proper mowing is one of the most important practices in keeping your lawn healthy. Grasses are like most plants — if you clip off the growing points (for grass, it's in the crown, where the new leaves develop), the plants branch out and become denser, which in this case, turns thousands of individual grass plants into a tightly woven turf or a lawn. If you didn't mow at all, your yard would look more like a prairie than a lawn. But the mere act of mowing isn't what makes a lawn look good. Mowing height and mowing frequency determine how healthy and attractive your lawn looks. After all, cutting a lawn is stressful for the grass. The leaves make the food for the roots — and how would you like it if someone kept cutting off your food?

Height does count

Most grasses have a range of recommended mowing heights. Stay at the upper end of that range when the lawn is under stressful conditions, such as hot weather or drought, or if you have a shady lawn. In cooler weather, you can cut the grass a little lower.

Follow the one-third rule. For a thriving lawn, never cut away more than one-third of the grass blade in any one mowing. If the grass "gets ahead of you" because of wet weather or your busy schedule, move up the cutting height of your mower to the highest possible setting and mow. If clippings are too long and heavy, even at that cutting height, catch them with the bagging unit or clean up after mowing with a leaf rake. Then move the cutting height back to your normal range and cut the lawn again a few days after that first mowing.

Table 1 shows suggested mowing heights for different grass types.

Table 1: Ideal Mowing Heights

Grass type


Bahia grass; fescue, tall; blue grama; buffalo grass

2 to 3 inches

Bent grass

1/4 to 1 inch

Bermuda grass, common

3/4 to 1-1/2 inches

Bermuda grass, hybrid

1/2 to 1 inch

Centipede grass; zoysia grass*

1 to 2 inches

Fescue, fine; St. Augustine grass

1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches

Kentucky bluegrass

1-3/4 to 2-1/2 inches

Ryegrass, annual and perennial

1-1/2 to 2 inches

*You can mow some newer, dwarf varieties lower.


Edging and trimming are the finishing touches of mowing, kind of like getting a shave after you've had a haircut. Edging and trimming are pretty close to being the same thing. Some tools are called edgers because they're designed to trim the lawn along a hard surface like a driveway or sidewalk. Edgers cut a nice clean edge, but leave some dirt and grass debris that you need to clean up. On the other hand, you can use trimmers anywhere — along a hard surface, in tight spaces, next to planting beds, and so on. Trimmers also leave some clippings on paths and driveways that you need to sweep up.

Never put grass clippings in a plastic bag and send them off to the dump. (In some areas, sending grass clippings to the dump is illegal.) Grass clippings are valuable organic matter, chock-full of nitrogen and other nutrients. As long as you mow often enough to remove no more than one third of the grass blade, the easiest thing to do is just to leave clippings on the lawn. The pieces break down quickly and reduce the amount of fertilizer you have to use by as much as 25 percent. And research has proven that the clippings don't cause thatch to build up.

Blog Archives