1. If your lawn is less than 500 square feet, you might consider buying a push reel lawn mower instead of one powered by gas or electricity. Over 500 square feet and a powered push mower will be more convenient. A riding lawn mower is best for large lawns that are around an acre or more in area.
2. Keep your lawn mower in top condition. Before beginning, check for obstructions around the blade and oil the mower’s moving parts. If your lawn mower is more than a year old, the blades might need sharpening if they’re going to give your lawn a clean cut. If you can’t sharpen the blades yourself, ask around your local hardware store for recommendations on a tool-sharpening business. Adjust your lawn mower’s height appropriately for your lawn – different grasses thrive at different heights.
3. Lawn mowing should be done when the grass is dry. Wet grass is slippery and can cause clogs under your mower. Cutting when wet also makes the cut blades of grass vulnerable to harmful insects, fungus, and other diseases. Mow in the late afternoon or evening, or after the dew has completely dried in the morning.
4. Observe safety precautions. Mark obstacles and clear any objects from the lawn before you start. Mark pipes, large rocks, sprinkler heads, or stepping stones that stick up too high so you can be sure not to accidentally hit them. Pick up any toys, bottles, cans, loose stones, tree branches, or paper that might be on the lawn. Shredded paper is hard to pick up after mowing and objects can get beneath the mower and be flung out, hurting you or anyone else nearby. Always wear safety glasses, garden gloves, and shoes when mowing to prevent injury. Never allow small children around the mower when you’re working on the lawn. Also, never give a child a ‘ride’ on the lawn mower. While it may seem harmless and fun, accidents can and do happen.
5. Using a weed eater or other fine trimmer, go around the perimeter of the lawn areas you will be mowing. Trim up the grass you won’t be able to get with your lawn mower for reasons like gravel, pavement, or decorative borders. You should also trim around lamp posts, fence posts, stepping stones and decorative items, flower beds, and trees – anything you won’t be able to get very close to with your mower. This trimming is one of the marks of a lawn that looks truly professional.
6. Don’t mow too slowly. Too slow and grass clipping can get caught and clog the underside of the mower. Don’t mow in a spiral patter – guide the mower back and forth in neat rows. When steering around trees, immovable objects, or garden beds, make two passes on opposite sides. When mowing on a slope with a push mower, always mow across the slope. When mowing a sloping area with a riding mower, mow up and down the slope. This prevents tipping accidents. Also overlap the area you’ve already mown on your next pass. This cuts down on those missed areas of just a few blades of grass and saves you some frustration in the long run by eliminating the need to go back over areas after you’re done.
7. When you think you’re finished, take another look around at the lawn. Pay particular attention to areas near porches and patios, gazebos, and steps. If you find that you missed any patches, now is the time to go back and take care of them. If the places missed are small and closer to buildings or objects, just go back over them with your trimmer.
8. The great thing about having a clipping catcher is that it keeps you from having to do more clean-up; you can dump the grass directly from the catcher into your compost bin or garbage bags. If you don’t have a clipping catcher, tidy up the yard after you finish mowing. Go back with a rake and gather grass clippings into piles for disposal or easier transfer into the compost bin. Be sure to clean up other areas that have gotten a spray of grass clippings. Use a leaf blower or broom to move stray clippings off of paved driveways, steps, patios, or porches, and back onto the lawn.
9. Care for your lawn mower after you’re done with it. Clean the mower’s blades with water and give the moving parts a little more oil to prevent rust from forming.
10. Mowing should be done once a week, preferably, but at least every two weeks. If your lawn has grown very high, don’t cut it all the way down in one go. Like any plant, grass can be traumatized by cutting off more than one-third of its length at a time. If your grass needs a bigger trim, do it over the course of two or three mowing sessions spread at least two days apart to keep the lawn healthy.