Lawn Mowing Tips – How to Mow Your Lawn

Lawn Mowing Tips – How to Mow Your Lawn

A good lawn is the backbone of any yard’s overall appearance. And while many people consider lawn care to be a simple task, a truly beautiful and healthy lawn can only be achieved using professional mowing methods. Experts say knowing how to mow your lawn correctly is as important to its health and appearance as anything else you do to it.

Daniel Tengrove, owner of All Southern Lawn & Landscaping in Ocala, Florida, said proper mowing techniques vary depending on the type of grass your have and where you live. For instance, Bahiagrass, a common sturdy grass popular in the South, is very resilient and can be cut to lower heights, while the more needy St. Augustinegrass is less durable and should be trimmed carefully to avoid damaging it.

“Mowing your lawn properly is important to its health and appearance, 100 percent,” Tengrove said. “A lot goes into it – the height of the cut, the pattern, the sharpness of the blade. It’s a science.”

When to Mow and How Often

No matter where you live, spring is when your lawn begins to grow in earnest. Spring comes earlier in warm-weather states, of course, but it’s still the time to break out the mower after the winter hiatus.

When that time comes, don’t go crazy with your mower. It’s best to ease into the mowing season.

  • In early spring, put your lawn mower on the highest setting and cut the grass, but not too often at first. Young, tender shoots need time to grow strong.
  • Later in the spring, as the weather starts to warm, your grass will start to grow more quickly, and you’ll need to increase the frequency of your mowing to about every two weeks.
  • As spring marches on, you’ll need to mow every 10 days or so, and then weekly.
  • Once the summer months arrive, your grass starts to grow more slowly. However, you should still plan to mow your grass at least every two weeks. If the weather becomes excessively hot and dry, then raise the cutting height of the mower. If heavy rains are making the grass grow quickly, you may need to continue mowing frequently right into August and September.

I Say Mow, You Say How High?

image of a person mowing grass
Photo Credit: Pexels

Cosmetically, mowing your lawn is like getting a haircut: A good cut looks great. But there’s a major difference. Cutting your grass too short or leaving it too long can actually damage it.

If you cut your grass too short, it will develop a shallow root system. This can become a problem when summer arrives because the heat will stress your lawn. Also, grass that’s too short absorbs more sunlight. Added sunlight can overheat the soil and dry it out.

The proper height for your grass depends on the species, but turfgrass specialists say you should absolutely follow the One-Third Rule:  Never remove more than one-third of your grass on any cutting. 

“You can’t just cut low. You’re going to kill your grass,” Tengrove said. “You have to understand your grass. Zoysiagrass, like they use on golf courses, can be cut low, but if you do that to St. Augustinegrass or Bermudagrass, you’re going to kill it.”

Here is a look at the recommended heights for different types of grass.

Recommended Mowing Height by Grass Type
Grass speciesRecommended mow height (inches)Mow when it reaches this height (inches)
Annual ryegrass1.5 – 22.25 – 3
Bermudagrass (seeded)1 – 1.51.5 – 2.25
Buffalograss1 – 21.5 – 3
Centipede grass23
Colonial bentgrass0.5 – 10.75 – 1.5
Creeping bentgrass0.5 inch or less0.75 inch or less
Dichondra0.5 – 0.750.75 – 1.125
Hard fescue1.5 – 2.52.25 – 3.75
Hybrid Bermuda0.5 – 10.75 – 1.5
Kentucky bluegrass2-33-4.5
Kikuyugrass1 – 1.51.5 – 2.25
Perennial ryegrass1.5 – 2.52.25 – 3.75
Red fescue1.5 – 2.52.25 – 3.75
St. Augustinegrass2.5-33.75-4.5
Tall fescue1.5 – 32.5 – 4
Zoysiagrass0.5 – 10.75 – 1.5
Sources: University of California-Davis Integrated Pest Management program, University of Georgia-Augusta Richmond County Extension

Sharpen and Clean the Blade

lawn mower blade sharpening
Sharpening of Lawn Mower Blade
Photo Credit: isuaneye | Canva Pro | License

Sharpening your lawn mower’s blades is one oft-forgotten bit of maintenance, and it’s one of the most important.

“You have to make sure you have a healthy blade,” Tengrove said. “It’s kind of like shaving. When a blade gets dull it starts pulling the hair, not cutting the hair. It’s the same concept with grass. When you have a dull blade, it just rips it, it doesn’t cut it cleanly, then you have unhealthy ends.”

Shredded grass blades will take on a brown, straw-like appearance in a day or two. Those shredded grass blades expose your grass to disease pathogens.

A dull blade also makes the mower work harder to cut the grass, which puts undue stress on the motor that can wear it out more quickly.

Tengrove recommends inspecting your blade regularly and having it sharpened by a professional, if possible. Also, pay attention to your lawn. If the ends of the blades look ragged after a cut, it’s probably time to sharpen the blade again.

Change Your Mowing Patterns

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Lawn mowing patterns not only give your lawn a professional appearance, but they also make it healthier. This is something that you can do yourself.

Tengrove, of All Southern Lawn & Landscaping, strongly recommends changing the direction of your cuts every two mows.

“The weight of the mower will actually create ruts in your lawn,” he said. “Going in the same direction every time means your tires are following the same tracks and creating ruts. especially with St. Augustine, Zoysia, something like that. So mow it in different directions – up, down, left, right.”

There is aesthetic value in varying your mowing patterns as well. T achieve this look, mow it at a higher setting, and then mow in opposing directions. Patterns show up because the light is reflecting off the grass blades at different angles. Since the grass is bent at varying angles, it reflects the sun differently, displaying the pattern you created.

Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to mowing your lawn, what you DON’T do can be as important as what you do. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid, according to our experts.

  • Don’t remove more than one-third of the grass height in one mowing. As noted above, doing so may stress your lawn, causing thin patches and bare spots. The general rule is to wait until your grass is at least two inches high before mowing.
  • Don’t mow wet grass. Diseases often propagate in your grass from frequent rain storms or heavy dew, and mowing moist grass simply throws it around and spreads the disease to other areas. Also, you could damage your lawn mower by forcing wet clumps of grass through the blade. 
  • Don’t leave clippings and clumps of grass sitting for too long. You can leave some grass clippings to naturally decompose and provide extra nutrients. However, too many clippings will simply choke your new growth.

FAQ: How To Mow Your Lawn The Right Way

Is There a Right or Wrong way to Cut Grass?

Yes. Mowing incorrectly can leave brown patches and scalped grass that can ruin your healthy lawn.

How do I Mow Stripes into my Lawn? 

Simply bend the grass blades in opposite directions to create that baseball field look in your lawn. With a simple striping kit, you can create checkerboard, diagonal stripes, waves, or any other shape you desire.

What is the Fastest way to Mow my Lawn?

Making the fewest number of turns is the fastest approach to mowing your lawn. According to David’s Lawn Mowing Efficiency Hierarchy, the list of fastest to most-time consuming mowing methods are:

• Spiral: Start from the outside and spiral into the middle. (No 180-degree turns!)
• Long stripes: Mow the long edge — the length of the rectangle — then u-turn, and go back the other way.
• Short stripes: Same as long stripes, but mow across the short side.
• Diagonal stripes: Start at one corner, and go back and forth across the diagonal.

What is the Best Lawn Mower for a Home Lawn?

Most home lawns are easy to maintain with a regular push mower. Our favorite gas-powered push mower is the Yardmax YG1650, and our favorite electric push mower is the Ego Power+ LM2114. Figure out which mower is right for you by reading our reviews of the best lawn mowers on the market right now.

Simply bend the grass blades in opposite directions to create that baseball field look in your lawn. With a simple striping kit, you can create checkerboard, diagonal stripes, waves, or any other shape you desire.

Mow it Yourself? Or Hire a Pro

Your other choice is to forgo the lawn mower purchase and instead hire a professional lawn service. So, if you don’t want to learn the fine art of lawn care, see if we provide service to your area.

Main Image Credit: welcomia | Canva Pro | License

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.