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Tips & Tricks of the Trade

Correct Mowing Methods

You might think that there’s not much to lawn mowing other than being able to turn on and push a mower around until, eventually, by this miracle of modern technology, the grass is cut short! However, suppose you’re after a healthy lawn, not just a cut one. In that case, following a few simple tips and applying some professional techniques can make a massive difference in your lawn’s appearance and make ongoing maintenance of your lawn a lot easier.

A well-cared-for lawn, appropriately cut and well-maintained, will be healthy enough to withstand the Aussie heat and dryness better than poorly kept lawns. When you look after grass properly, it will be far less susceptible to weeds and bug problems.

Correct mowing techniques are essential to encouraging the growth of great-looking grass.

Mower Blades

To start with, your mower’s cutting blades need to be sharp. Sharp blades are a must for any tool you use for any cutting you do in your garden – whether it’s hedging, pruning or sawing – and mowing is no exception.

It’s essential to have sharp mowing blades so the grass is sliced as it passes over the blades. Dull blades tear the grass. Torn grass looks frayed and messy, but the tearing also results in bruised and browned edges. The ragged edges of torn grass tips encourage increased water loss and increased susceptibility to disease to the whole lawn.

Your mower might not get as much workout in the cooler months, but as soon as spring comes around and the grass grows, your mower must be up to the job. Around mid-August is a good time to do a routine check of your lawn mower and sharpen the blades if they look and feel blunt. With sharpened blades, your lawn mower will work a lot better, and you’ll have a better-looking, healthier lawn.

Of course, sharpening your lawn mower blades is an art and skill.

Mowing Height

Grass isn’t just grass. There are over 11,000 species and over 60,000 varieties worldwide.
Australia has over 1,300 native and naturalised grass species, with thousands of sub-types.

Every type of grass is different and has different mowing requirements, so check what kind of turf you have to determine the recommended height to cut the grass to encourage optimal growth, health and performance. Remember that you might have more than one type of grass on your property, so you’ll have to adjust the mowing height for each type.

Sound complicated? Well, let’s make things a little easier.

The general rule of thumb is to remove no more than one-third of the leaf blade per cutting. Even if your lawn is long and overgrown, this rule still applies. With overgrown grass, the aim is to gradually reduce the height of the lawn over several mows until it reaches the desired length. This is to avoid ‘shocking’ or ‘stressing’ the grass. Cutting too much at once damages the turf because it needs time to adjust to a new level. After all, grass is a living thing, and it requires time to adapt.

For protection against the weather, leaving the grass a bit longer in cooler months, in shaded areas, and particularly in the peak of summer is always recommended. Keeping the grass relatively long increases its tolerance to heat and drought. It reduces evaporation and cools and shades the soil so weed seedlings don’t germinate.

People often think they should cut the grass as short as possible to wait longer for the next mow. At first, this might seem like a good idea, and it is understandable to feel this way if you find lawn mowing an unpleasant chore you would like to avoid for as long as possible.

Cutting too much grass off all at once is called ‘scalping’; as the word implies, it involves mowing too low and exposing the scalp (in the case of grass, that is the lower section of the blade length closest to the root system). Scalping can wreak havoc on your lawn. Remember that the grass blade is the food production unit and the insulation for the grass all at the same time. Over-cutting increases water loss through the cut leaf and reduces carbohydrate food production and storage. Essentially, over-cut grass is starving grass. It’s also exposed grass, leaving the grass plant susceptible to heat, cold and drought. Over-cutting also promotes poor heath, bare patches and browning and is an open invitation for weeds and disease infiltrating your lawn. Over-cutting puts your lawn under extreme stress and causes ongoing problems, which you must spend time and money fixing. Therefore, unfortunately, over-cutting the grass is r option, requiring more effort from you you ‘saved’ by mowing less frequently.

Save yourself the pain! Avoid scalping or cutting grass too short. Always check your blades. Remember to adjust and raise the mower blade height to compensate for uneven or low areas on your lawn.

Mowing Frequency

This tip is pretty simple. If you are after thick and lush grass, you must mow regularly. That’s just the way it is when working with nature and the reality of how grass responds to proper treatment.

All grasses have a recommended height for optimal performance. So, naturally, you can determine when your grass needs to be cut if the grass blades are longer than the recommended height for your lawn type. The lawn will need less frequent mowing in cooler months when the grass is relatively dormant and more regular mowing in the warmer months when it is actively growing. This is another response from nature.

Regular mowing has the added benefit of reducing weeds by cutting them down before they can grow more seed heads or reproduce.

If it has been raining and your lawn needs cutting, it is OK to mow, provided you ensure that your mower blades are sharp so that no damage to the grass will occur. Be aware that with wet grass, you will not get as good a cut or do as neat a job as when you mow in drier conditions. Damp grass clippings are also bulkier and messier, so be prepared to deal with a much bigger clean-up of you and your mower!

If you can, wait for drier conditions to mow (but not too dry). The best time is a couple of days after the rain.

Mowing Pattern

At first, ‘untrained’ grass blades tend to grow in different directions, so don’t stick to mowing in the same direction every single time. It would be best if you broke up your cutting pattern. Mow from left to right, up to down, anti-clockwise and clockwise, depending on the lay of the land.

Breaking up your mowing pattern will also prevent the soil from being compacted in the same areas. Compacted soil causes ruts and uneven ground and will stop the grass from leaning and growing in one particular direction, which is a preferable growth pattern for both you and the grass.

Always ensure you overlap each pass by at least a couple of inches, no matter which direction you mow. This will guarantee that the mowing coverage is even and that Aveno areas have missed strips.

Mulching

People often use grass catchers because they want the lawn to look neat after mowing. But it would be best if you considered other factors.

If you have an unhealthy lawn, leaving the grass clippings on the lawn to decompose naturally can be a great source of organic matter and recycled nutrients and aid grass growth by improving the soil structure.

But if your lawn is already healthy, constantly mulching should be considered carefully. In humid conditions, mulch can get mouldy, encouraging disease by depriving the lawn of nitrogen. The classic sign of low nitrogen is the yellowing of the leaf blades. If this occurs, you might have to add a nitrogen fertiliser to get your grass looking green again.

So, there you have it! Consider using these basic techniques and tips to cut your grass and get results like a lawn-mowing professional!

And, of course, if you don’t like mowing, don’t have the time, or don’t know what might be wrong with your lawn or what you need to do – then the simplest solution is to let Fox Mowing look after your lawn for you. And while we’re in your garden, we can do a lot of other stuff to get your garden looking and feeling its best.

We’re famous for lawn care and mowing and renowned for our top-quality approach, no matter how big or small your lawn is. Contact Fox Lawn Care Services today for professional lawn care without getting hot, working hard or wasting your precious time.

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