Mowing the lawn seems like a no-brainer: Turn the thing on and push it around until all the grass is cut and call it done. But mowing actually should involve a bit more thought and intention—if you want a healthy, good-looking lawn. Last week, I wrote about the importance of servicing your mower and sharpening its blade to help ensure a healthy cut. Beyond that, once you’re out actually mowing the lawn, here are five important tips to abide by.

How to mow with mindfulness

1.) Cut it high: While putting greens are pretty, a higher cut for your lawn—especially if you live in arid climate—allows grass to retain more moisture and require less irrigation. Even better, shorter clippings (optimally removing only a third of the blade) return more nitrogen to the soil and cause less stress on the grass.

2.) Mix up your mowing pattern: This allows you to reduce wear on the grass, hit the spots you missed the time before, and reduce “double mowing” or going over the same spots again and again unnecessarily, which can mat the turf and limit growth. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try a checkerboard one week and circles the next.

Stripes add sass to your lawn

Stripes add sass to your lawn

3.) Mulch rather than bag your clippings: This may seem a little hippie-dippy and messy, but it really is better for your lawn. Grass contains nitrogen that your soil needs—and it’s free! If you’re cutting your grass high and often, the clippings are less noticeable anyway.

4.) Feed your soil: Depending on where you live, you soil may be rich or lacking in essential nutrients. If you love your lawn, why not take a sample to your local university extension program and find out whether you’re properly fertilizing your beloved lawn.

5.) Sharpen your mower blade if you haven’t already: Seriously, this is important. A dull blade gives your grass the equivalent of road rash and makes it easy for disease to creep in and kill your luscious lawn.

With these mantras in mind, you can mow in peace—even more so, if you’ve got a quiet electric mower.