There is a right way and a wrong way to mow your lawn. This is the right way:
Once upon a time, mowing the lawn was right up there with shovelling snow, pulling weeds and checking the pH levels of soil when it came to garden chores. But with the world on lockdown and the great outdoors little more than a memory/myth, your garden is now your own, personal oasis; your only escape from the insanity-inducing indoors.
From giving you something fun to fill the hours to boosting your mental wellbeing and helping your flowers (Orlando) bloom, there’s a hundred ways gardening can help you not freak the heck out during these crazy Coronavirus times. That’s why you need to pull on your favourite gardening gloves and start making your outside space as inviting as that 11 o’clock G&T you’ve gotten really into recently — and it starts with knowing how to mow your lawn properly.
So brew a cuppa (or pour yourself a tipple complete with cucumber), settle into your favourite deck chair and follow these easy little tips to make sure you’re cutting your grass (and caring for it) the Joe’s way.
Tip No.1: The Good & Bad Times To Mow Your Lawn
Believe it or not, there are certain times when you should absolutely, totally, 100% not mow your lawn, and here are some of them:
When the sun is hot-hot: you may be chuckling to yourself because this is England and hot-hot isn’t really a luxury we have, but the weather these past few years has been stranger than Tiger King. Basically, don’t mow on a hot summer’s afternoon as this will put a lot of stress on your lawn.
The ideal time to start up the mower and start making Wimbledon style stripes is during the late morning of a dry day, when the dew has evaporated, or during the balmy evening of a long summer’s day. Dreamy.
Tip No.2: Don’t Be A Creature of Habit
When I was 10 and hand ye olde lawn mowing chore, I would always adopt the same routine: camo trousers, matching jacket, some wellies and then set about mowing the lawn like I did every other time: up that way, back down that way, around the willow that way and so on. Don’t do this. Mowing your lawn in the same direction is a) more monotonous than the checkout bleep at your local supermarket and b) bad for your grass because you’ll encourage them to grow in a certain direction, meaning they’ll get less sun and less nutrients. So shake it up, be a maverick, fight your OCD, go all rogue and mow your lawn at random (sort of).
Tip No.3: Stick To The Only ⅓ Rule
I get it. The temptation is to cut your lawn like an army barber cuts hair. You want to buzzcut the heck out of it so that you don’t have to get your mower out again too soon. But if you want a healthy and happy lawn you should stick to the one-third rule and aim to only reduce your lawn’s height by only one third each time you mow, with the promise to never go below 4-5cm. Any more than that and you’ll seriously decrease the health and vigour of your grass.
Tip No.4: Compost Your Clippings
There are certain questions that have baffled humankind for years, such as who killed JFK and what happened to DB Cooper. “Can you compost your grass clippings?” is not one of these questions. The answer is simply: yes, yes you can. Just make sure you mix your clippings with plenty of carbon-rich ‘brown’ material so that your compost doesn’t become a slimy mess. That said, don’t do this in the summer months because the more clippings you leave on your lawn, the more moisture your grass will be able to retain.
Tip No.5: Sharpest Tool In The Shed
There’s a pretty epic reason you should be mowing your mower blades, and it’s all to do with your lawn’s health. You need a clean cut to stop your grass blades being ripped or torn, which is how diseases invade your garden. Remember, fungi are sneaky opportunists that love exploiting open cuts, especially when the conditions are moist, which is what happens when you’re mowing because your grass releases moisture when cut. So try and sharpen your blade every other month if you can, and do so following this no-nonsense guide.
Tip No.6: Give Your Mower A Spring Clean
The first thing you need to do is clean (or possibly replace) your air filters, which all depend on whether you’re rocking a paper or foam air filter. Paper is replaced, foam is cleaned. Easy. Then it’s just a matter of changing the spark plug, checking that all the nuts and bolts are nice and secure, and re-checking them for tightness every month because all those lawnmower vibrations can loosen your nuts n’ bolts more than you might think.
Tip No.7: Think About Shade-Happy Grass
You know that super-annoying, always-mossy part of your lawn that never grows as healthy as the rest of your garden? Well, you can thank Monsieur Shade for that. Let’s say you have some nice big trees around your lawn. Chances are, the grass under them won’t grow as much as you’d like. Thankfully, there is a solution. Cue shade-tolerant grass. You see, most grass types are addicted to a bit of sunshine, but there are some types of grass that are totally cool with chilling out in the shade, such as tall fescues, which could be worth trying out in your shaded areas.
Tip No.8: Leave A Patch To Grow Wild
Just because you have a lawn doesn’t mean you have to mow it a uniform length. Nor does it mean you have to mow it at all. It’s your lawn and you can do whatever you want with it. Get creative, play around with different heights, mow your initials into it, try and master the striped finish, or just leave a patch at the back totally unmowed and enjoy having a wildflower area full of wildlife.
Tip No.9: Trim Up The Edges
Let’s get one thing straight: you don’t have to put this on yourself. There’s nothing to say trimming the edge of your lawn is good for your lawn’s health. But it does look great. After all, the last thing you want is for your much-loved and well looked after lawn to look messy and untidy (especially if you live next to a Keen Kevin). So, with a little more time on your hands than you’re perhaps used to, maybe try re-cutting the edges of your lawn with a half moon tool after your next mowing session.