Is there a right or wrong way to cut my lawn? Main Image

Ever spend a summer mowing and caring for your lawn but you just didn’t get the results you were expecting? This can happen if you aren’t carefully watching certain conditions throughout the season while you mow. Many people don’t know there is a right and wrong way to cut your lawn depending on your weather conditions, type, and length of grass.

How dry should my lawn be before mowing?

Wet Grass

It’s important to make sure that your lawn is dry before attempting to cut; a moist lawn's clippings will tend to clump up and clog your mowers deck and put more strain on your mowers engine. If you can run your hand over the surface of your lawn and your fingers stay dry then your lawn is ready for a cut. If you must cut wet grass, you’ll need to move slowly across your lawn. To avoid bogging down your mower's engine, we recommend raising the cutting height to reduce the amount of clippings that might build up. It may be necessary to periodically disengage the blades and turn the mower off to turn it over and clean out packed-on clippings from the mower deck.

How long should my grass be before mowing?

Tall Grass

The root system of your lawn is relative to how high your grass grows, the taller the grass growth, the deeper your lawn's root system. There are many benefits to having a deep root system in your lawn, including the ability to better withstand draught conditions and fight off pests and diseases more effectively. To maintain a healthy root system, you want to make sure you abide by the "One-Third Rule" of thumb. Here's the idea behind the One-Third Rule: when you remove more than 1/3 of your lawns blade length, it will stress out your lawn. If too much of the grass blade is removed or cut off, your lawn can begin to look “burnt out” or start to brown. If you continue to cut more than 1/3 of the grass height off of your lawn, it will have trouble thriving and your root system will suffer.

The best way to avoid problems is to mow your lawn when your grass blades reach 50% higher than the desired height. Here's a simple example: if you want to maintain your lawn at about 2”, you’ll want to mow when it reaches 3”. You might be thinking, "Can I wait longer in-between mowing?" In theory, you’d be cutting the grass less often while it’s longer which would overall reduce the number of cuts for the season. This is not advisable; though it can be done, it can cause damage to your lawn if done regularly. When more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue of the grass is removed in any one mowing, the lawn will experience physiological shock. When the plant undergoes this shock its root growth is suppressed and can lead to a decline in turf density. Nobody wants a “balding” lawn so we recommend trying to adhere to the One-Third Rule as your maximum length between mowing.

1/3 Rule
Example: if you want to maintain your lawn at about 2”, you’ll want to mow when it reaches 3”.

Does it matter which direction I cut my lawn?

Does direction matter? Simply put, yes! When you mow your lawn in the same direction every time you mow, two things happen: the turf starts to become compacted and your lawn can begin to lean or grow in one direction. An easy way to avoid these issues is to change your mowing pattern each time. By alternating the direction of travel each time you mow the lawn, you’ll help avoid the compaction problems by not traveling in the same path too frequently and the lawn won’t be influenced to grow in one direction.

Does my mower affect my lawn?

Sharp vs. Dull Blades

You’ll not only need to pay attention to the environmental conditions when mowing, but also the condition of your mower. Your mower can be a major influence in maintaining a healthy lawn as well. When your mower blades get dull, they tear the leaf tissue of the grass blade instead of cutting cleanly. This tearing of the leaf tissue results in frayed grass blades, which turn brown and give your lawn an overall brown or tan look for several days after mowing. Not only does it look unpleasant, but it also leaves your grass vulnerable to disease organisms. For this reason, we recommend making sure your blades are sharp and your mower is in full operating condition at the beginning of every mowing season.

If you follow these pointers and mow your lawn correctly, you’ll be on your way to having one of the lushest lawns on the block. Complete with regular maintenance, following these cutting guidelines will help your lawn thrive this season!