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Lawn Care Techniques: Mowing Matters

by Kate McIntyre, All About Lawns Columnist

Homeowners protect their lawns by fertilizing, watering diligently, weeding often, and watching out for insect invaders. Little do they know that incorrect mowing can undo all of their lawn care hard work. Mowing has an instant impact on the health of your lawn. Whether this impact is positive or negative is up to you. By keeping informed about how mowing affects your lawn care, you can ensure that your mowing is contributing to the health of your grass, and to the overall appearance of the exterior of your home.

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Mower Basics for Healthy Lawns: When to Mow, When Not to Mow

The time of day and the weather conditions when you mow your lawn can affect its health. You should avoid mowing in the afternoon, during the hottest part of the day, because it can put unneeded stress on the lawn. Any time after a heavy rain, or even in the morning before the dew has been burned off by the sun, is a poor choice as well. Lawns that are cut while they are damp are much more susceptible to diseases such as fungus. Therefore, the perfect time to mow your lawn is in the evening, when the sun is less intense.

How Often to Mow Your Lawn

Mowing frequency depends on whether your lawn is made up of cool season grass varieties such as bluegrass and fescue, or warm season grasses like zoysia, bermuda grass, or buffalo grass. A basic rule is that you should never cut off more than one-third of the grass blades' height at any one time. For a cool season lawn, you should plan on mowing down to two and a half inches tall. Therefore, your cool season lawn is ready to mow when it is just under four inches tall. Warm season grasses tend to be more resilient, so you can trim them a bit shorter. In general, you should plan on mowing your grass about once a week, keeping in mind that it will need to be mowed more often at some times of the year and less often at others.

There is one last thing to cover: how to mow. You should plan on mowing in long, straight lines across your lawn as much as possible. However, you should not always mow your lawn along the same lines, or you could risk harming the grass that is always getting run over by the wheels of your mower. Instead, alternate your mowing direction so that you are mowing in lines that are perpendicular to the lines you created during your last mowing job.

About the Author
Kate McIntyre is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oregon State University.

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