Mowing your lawn is an ongoing task. So, why not make it as easy as possible? The lawn care experts at Ashton Walden Turf Services have put together this 3-step series to easier mowing. Follow these steps to make mowing your lawn fast and easy all summer long. Plus, we threw in a few extra tips too. We’ll break it down like this:
Step 1: Tune Up Your Lawn Mower
Step 2: Set a Schedule
Step 3: Change It Up
Quick Mowing Tips
Step 1: Tune Up Your Lawn Mower
As with any tool, a little maintenance can go a long way! Prolong the life of your lawn mower, make each mow a little easier, and get a cleaner cut with a quick tune-up before Lubbock’s mower season is in full swing. How? We’re sharing the lawn care expert’s tune-up steps below.
To keep track of all those lawn related deadlines, take a look at Ashton Walden Turf Services’ Year-Round Lawn Care Guide for Homeowners.
Step 1: For Safety’s Sake, Disconnect the Spark Plug
Safety first! Before you do anything with your mower, make sure there’s absolutely no chance of an accidental start. Disconnect your lawn mower’s spark plug.
Step 2: Change Out The Oil & Gasoline
Any fuel left over from last season has been resting all winter in your mower’s tank. If your oil looks dark, or has any debris in it, change it out using your manual for proper directions. Drain the gasoline from last year and fill with new. Starting with fresh oil and gas will help your mower run more smoothly all season. No one wants a sluggish lawn mower or one that’s hard to start.
Step 3: Clean Underneath Your Mower Deck
Out with the old! Get all of last year’s grass, mud, and general gunk off using a putty knife. If you’re surprised by just how much had collected there, consider a mini cleanup mid-season to clear it out again.
Step 4: Evaluate/Replace Your Air Filter
If your mower uses a paper air filter, now is a great time to replace it. If your filter is made of foam, you can clean it with warm water and dish detergent. Just make sure you add oil to the filter before you place it back in your mower. A clean filter keeps strain off of your motor, and keeps your mower running longer.
Step 5: Sharpen Your Mower Blades
Sharp blades make a huge difference when cutting your lawn. Dull blades tear the tips of the grass which leaves the ends dry and brown and leaves the blades vulnerable to disease. While it’s possible to sharpen the blades on your own (check out these step-by-step instructions), many mower repair shops will do it for you.
Step 6: Replace Your Spark Plug
Once you’re all finished, it’s time to reconnect the spark plug. But instead of using the old plug, replace it. Your spark plug plays a huge role in your mower’s efficiency, and a new plug will usually cost you less than $10. (Not sure how to replace a spark plug? Have a look at this tutorial.)
Now that your mower is prepped and ready to go – what do you do with it?
Step 2: Set a Schedule
A great mower alone doesn’t make for a great mow! Today, Ashton Walden’s sharing the ins and outs of when to mow, and helping you save yourself some work.
Tip 1: Don’t Wait!
It may sound counterintuitive, but mowing more often will actually make the chore of mowing a lot easier. A regular schedule will keep your lawn looking healthier, and can even save you time and money in fertilizer
Mowing frequently, will actually help you stick to the best practices guidelines; that is, only cut off the top third of your grass when you mow. Each blade of grass is an individual plant and it requires a certain amount of plant to thrive. When you cut off too much at a time, it inhibits the plant’s ability to create food through photosynthesis and will make it unhealthier overall. Trimming just the top section of your grass keeps your lawn healthy and lush.
Starting to feel in over your head? Check out Lawn Mowing 101.
Tip 2: Avoid the Cleanup
Aside from greener, healthier grass, mowing often means less work to clean up after mowing. When you wait too long, and your grass gets too tall, the clippings leftover after mowing are too dense to decompose quickly. To avoid looking at clumps of dead, dried grass, you’ll have to rake up after mowing.
However, when you only cut the top third of the blade, the resulting thin layer of clippings gets spread evenly over your lawn and will eventually decompose, putting nutrients right back into your growing grass. These added nutrients can help cut down on the fertilizer needed in your lawn, which makes even less work for you this summer!
If you need more convincing, check out Bag the Bag and Leave Those Grass Clippings on the Lawn, and feel good about crossing clean up off your to-do list.
Step 3: Change It Up
Now that you know when you’re going to mow, it’s time to switch up how you mow. Ashton Walden shares our inside scoop on mowing 101.
Mow Based on Height
So, we just talked about setting a regular schedule to mow by. However, if you’re walking out to mow and your grass seems a little short, it’s time to do some math. Different grasses grow at different rates. Determine the type of grass on your lawn (yes, there are different kinds of grass), and it’s ideal height. Now, measure your grass and subtract one third of the current height. If your calculations show that you’ll be cutting your grass too short, don’t cut it today! Your grass is a living organism and its growth depends on a lot of variables. Rather than adhering to a strict schedule, loosen up a bit and give your grass what it needs.
The rule of thumb is never remove more than one third of the blade’s length in a cutting. If your grass gets extremely long, it’s better to cut it on the high setting once, wait a day or two, and cut it on the regular setting again. Cutting too much at once is not healthy for your grass. Cool-season grasses, like fescue are cut to 3 to 3½ inches; warm-season grass, like bermuda is cut to 1 to 3 inches. The higher you mow the less water your lawn will take. Turf mowed at 1 inch will take drastically more water. You can mow like a golf course but you should be prepared to water like a golf course.
Try a Different Direction
It’s easy to get into a pattern of mowing, but it’s not great for your lawn. By running the same path, over and over again, you can create ruts and damage your grass at the roots. Your best bet is to change the direction and path you mow your lawn, rotating between a few methods.
Whether you’re tired of mowing a huge, open expanse of lawn, or the tedium of mowing right up next to trees and other obstacles, landscaping may be able to help. Depending on the landscaping options you choose, you could seriously decrease the amount of yard work needed to maintain your lawn.
If you’re simply struggling with tight areas and small obstacles, adding pavers or mulch can help create more gradual, curved lines in your lawn that are visually appealing and easier to mow around. Consider adding mulch around trees, or mowing strips near fences or walls.
Lawn Mowing Tips
Mowing Affects Weed Control
Weeds grow when the grass is too low. If you hate weeds (and who doesn’t?) that’s another good reason not to cut your grass too low. Most weeds are scrappy little plants that can withstand worse conditions than our pampered turf grass. When the goin’ gets tough, the weeds get goin’. As you now know, when you cut your lawn too low, you inhibit the grass growth. On top of that, you expose the soil to the sun.
Weeds thrive in hot earth and sun. Your grass…not so much. Too much sun stresses the crown of the grass plant. So besides hurting your grass, you’re encouraging weed growth. That’s a double whammy that no homeowner wants. When it comes to Lubbock weed control, the best way to prevent weeds is a thick, healthy lawn that will naturally choke them out.
Mulch Your Clippings
It’s the age-old question – should I bag my clippings or mulch them? Mulching as you mow puts the grass particles back into the turf. This adds nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil. You’ll end up with healthier turf. If you don’t have a mulching mower, discharge the clippings towards the area you have already cut so they will be cut a second time when you pass over that area. Just make sure to not leave clippings on top of the turf.
Mow When Grass Is Dry
Don’t mow when your lawn is wet. The blades will not stand upright and the grass will clump together when the lawn is wet causing uneven patterns and wheel tracks where the grass was mashed down and didn’t pop up to be cut. Wait till the grass is dry enough to stand up.
Pay Attention to the Heat and Moisture Levels in Lubbock
Reduce mowing frequency and raise the mowing height when hot, dry weather slows the growth rate. Tall turf shades the ground and makes your soil stay wetter longer.