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green lawn and mower

(image: seantoyer)

Lawn mowing is a part of lawn care. Here are some ways to make it easier and improve the health of your grass and look of your outdoor space.

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Summer brings backyard barbeques, beach escapes, and baseball games. It also brings the sometimes-dreaded weekly ritual of mowing the rapidly growing lawn. While few tips exist to make lawn mowing fun, it is possible to make it a little easier. If the thought of firing up the mower makes you groan, here are some tips to take away some of the pain.

Do your prep work

Keep your lawnmower blades sharp. Signs of a dull blade include having to make multiple passes, uneven cuts, and brown spots in your grass. Before you mow, make a quick walk around the yard to check for rocks, sticks, toys, and other debris.

Top off the gas tank and make sure there’s enough gas in your can to get the job done — nothing’s more frustrating than making a trip to the gas station in the middle of mowing. And schedule the task in the morning or evening because it’s less stressful for both you and your grass.

Stick with the one-third rule

It’s tempting to really give your lawn a haircut when you mow to stretch out the time until you have to mow again, but this is actually a bad idea. You should never remove more than a third of the grass’ length at any one time; for most people, this means setting your mower at the highest or second-highest setting.

Close cropping leads to injury to the crown of the blades, where nutrients are stored, and reducing the surface area of the blades to the point where they are unable to synthesize food, leading to dead, brown lawns. In addition, taller grass denies oxygen and sunlight to weeds, so you’ll spend less time weeding your lawn.

Switch it up

Many homeowners tend to form a lawn mowing habit, going the same direction and route each time. But this is actually counterproductive to a healthy, green lawn. Grass develops a “grain,” which usually leans into the direction you mow.

When you switch up your mowing pattern, it encourages a straighter, more upward grass growth, which is actually easier to mow and avoids an ugly, rutted look to your lawn.

Bag the bag

When you shoot the grass clippings back into your yard, you’re actually practicing a healthy, organic fertilizing technique known as grass cycling. Leaving your grass clipping on the lawn returns nitrogen and valuable nutrients back to your grass and improves your soil condition. Remember to mow in a direction that shoots your clippings to the area you’ve already mowed.

Never mow downhill

If you have hills or steep grades in your yard, avoid pushing your mower up and down — a simple slip can lead to injury. Instead, mow side-to-side across the hill or grade to reduce the chance of injury. If you have a riding lawnmower, follow the manufacturer’s directions for operating on a grade.

Okay, mowing the lawn will probably never be one of your favorite activities, but if you follow these tips, you’ll have an easier time of it, and your lawn will look great.

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.