Do You Know the Right Way to Mow Your Lawn?

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
May 26, 2016

There is more to mowing than just cutting the grass. Important considerations include mowing height, mowing frequency and the sharpness of the blade.

“If we don’t do anything else to our lawn, we’re at least going to mow it,” said Jared Hoyle, turf grass specialist with the Kansas State University Research and Extension Office.

“And that influences diseases and weeds, and so if we do it correctly, then it’s just going to help the health of the turf grass and then your lawn is just going to be so much more beautiful in the spring and winter.”

The general rule-of-thumb is to mow cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass and tall fescue, at a height of two to three inches.

Warm-season grasses, such as bermuda and zoysia, can be mowed at a height of one to two inches.

“You never want to take more than one-third of the leaf blade off at one time,” said Hoyle.

“Those leaf blades are like solar panels; they’re taking all the energy from the sun…so if you take too much solar panel off you’re damaging it,” he explained. “But because grass is growing, you still want to remove some of that as it’s growing.”

If you can’t remember the last time the mower blade was sharpened, it’s long overdue. To keep the blade sharp, Hoyle says it should be sharpened after every 10 hours of use.

“If you have a dull blade, you end up ripping it off instead of cutting it,” Hoyle said. “And ripping it, one, produces an unsightly lawn because the tips of the leaf blades are going to be brown and it’s going to look like it’s drought-stressed or injured by something when it’s actually not, it’s just been a dull mower blade.”

Other recommendations include alternating direction from one mowing to the next to avoid soil compaction and wear from the mower wheels; establishing several mowing patterns that result in as few turns as possible to speed up the mowing time and reduce damage to the turf from turning the mower wheels; and being careful when mowing around trees – bumping young and thin-barked trees can cause serious injury.