There are numerous ways to improve the look of a home’s outdoor areas, from lawn fertilization to landscaping features and annual planting that takes advantage of seasonal weather conditions. Perhaps the most effective way to ensure that outdoor areas look great during the warmest months of the year, however, is simply to mow the lawn properly on a regular schedule. There really is nothing quite like a lawn that looks professionally maintained and painstakingly mowed, even if professionals and painstaking mowing never actually took place. The goal is to give the lawn a certain look, and proper mowing ensures that such a look can be in place even when amateur landscapers maintain their property. With a few simple tips and best practices, it’s easy to give the lawn a professional finish throughout the spring, summer, and early fall months.
The Importance of Proper Mowing: Avoid Damage to the Turf
There’s a common misconception among some homeowners that any mowing is better than no mowing. After all, grass looks better when it’s short, so does it really matter how it got that way? The unequivocal answer to this question is “yes.” The way a lawn is maintained directly affects not only its appearance, but also its long-term health and its ability to resist damage during extended periods of wet or dry weather. To understand why, it’s important to realize what mowing is: Essentially, this process involves damaging the grass in order to keep its growth under control. Without mowing, grass would continue to grow healthfully as it reached heights as high as 24 inches.
Mowing “damages” the lawn to keep that from happening, and to keep outdoor areas both aesthetically pleasing and practically usable. The goal of proper mowing is to mitigate the effects of this damage on each blade of grass, ensuring that this process does not expose the grass to disease, fungus, or other long-term problems. There are a few great ways to do this, known as best practices, which will make the lawn highly resilient throughout the year.
Best Practices for Lawn Mowing and Maintenance: A Primer for Homeowners
The nature of mowing is to cut the grass in order to keep it at a manageable height. By following some best practices, however, homeowners can ensure that this damage is fleeting and that their outdoor areas are able to stand up to disease, summer heat, excessive rain, and more.
1. Follow the “one third” rule when mowing the lawn. This basic rule says that no more than a third of the grass’ height should be removed during any single outing. Some homeowners might think that this means the grass should be kept longer overall. What it actually means, however, is that homeowners should mow the grass more frequently if they wish for it to be shorter. Longer gaps between mowing, when following this rule, necessitate longer blades of grass and higher turf heights.
2. Differentiate between cool and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses like bluegrass, for instance, need to be cut longer, often to between 2 and 3 inches. Warm season grasses, like Bermuda grass, can be cut much shorter. Generally, warm season grasses can survive being trimmed down to one inch or even three quarters of an inch.
3. Avoid mowing grass when it’s wet or damp, if possible. Wet grass more easily clogs the mower, and it’s harder to discharge wet grass evenly across the remaining turf. As a result, this can cause “matting” that covers the remaining grass and shields it from sunlight. Over time, brown patches could result. Furthermore, wet grass tends to cut unevenly and this can lead to further aesthetic problems a few days after the cut.
4. In uneven areas of the lawn, it’s a good idea to raise the mower deck so that “scalping” is avoided. Simply put, scalping is when a low-set lawn mower’s blades hit the ground and cut the grass to its roots. This creates bare and brown patches that make the lawn look pretty uneven. A higher deck height reduces this risk and still creates an even, appropriate cut in more challenging areas of the lawn.
5. Vary the pattern used to cut the lawn. Try alternating the direction of back-and-forth passes, perhaps from a north-south to an east-west pattern. This will make sure that the grass doesn’t bend in any given direction permanently, and it guards against unwanted soil compaction that could prevent crucial nutrients and moisture from reaching the roots.
Maintain the Lawn with Parts and Equipment found at Ralph Helm, Inc.
Whether it’s in-person at the Ralph Helm Inc. store, or online at RalphHelmInc.com, customers in the Elgin and Crystal Lake communities of Illinois can find the essential outdoor power equipment they need to give their lawn great aesthetic appeal throughout the summer season. With numerous available brands and a large selection of OEM parts, it’s easy to find the best mower, aerator, dethatcher, and other key pieces of equipment necessary for year-round outdoor work.