Mowing the lawn can seem like a bit of a mystery the first time you attempt it. You’ve seen the neat pale and dark green lines that appear whenever someone mows a lawn on the telly, but whenever you attempt it in your own back garden you seem to get a weird, splotchy green mess.
Mowing the lawn is one of those skills that nobody ever really gets taught. They’re just expected to know how to do it instinctively. However, there are a few common sense tips you can use to make sure that your lawn comes out looking healthy, neat and tidy.
When you start mowing the lawn you should do so in a sort of zigzag pattern, going from one end of the lawn to the other, turning around and coming back alongside where you’ve just been. A lot of first time mowers assume this means that the mower should be travelling next to the freshly mown grass, but don’t cross onto it.
Instead you want to make sure that the lawnmower slightly overlaps the area you’ve just mown. To make this easier and more precise, make a mark on your lawnmower to show how far you want the overlap to go. This will be your “overlap marker”.
This is particularly important if your lawnmower isn’t a hover mower but one with wheels. If you take a second to think about it you’ll realise that running wheels up and down exactly the same path is going to wear tracks into the soil, which isn’t going to look good for the lawn as a whole.
For the easiest mowing results you want a completely flat, level and rectangular lawn with grass that is entirely uniform in length, but of course, lawns like that seldom exist outside of the gardener’s imagination.
There are a number of obstacles you’ll probably face while mowing the lawn. If you find that some of the grass is damp or longer than the rest you can get round it simply by slowing down a little. Just push the mower through the grass at a slightly slower speed and it shouldn’t present any problems.
A slightly trickier area is the bumps and high spots in the lawn. When you approach these it’s worth stopping to raise the height of your blades, otherwise you could end up with a slightly too close shave that leaves bald patches on your lawn, or worse, you could accidentally stop the blade. The same is true when you’re approaching slopes or shady areas.
Of course, it doesn’t matter one jot about your mowing technique if your tools are in poor condition. There are a number of maintenance steps you should take on a regular basis to ensure good mower performance.
If you have a cylinder mower and you find that the blade stutters regularly, or the lawn is coming out in a “ribbed” or “rippled” effect, it could be that the blades are blunt or the mower is under-powered The same is true if the lawn starts to take on a frayed look, or a sort of silvery sheen.
Getting just the right look
Now you’ve got the basics sorted, you need to focus on getting the look of your lawn just the way you want it. There are a number of tricks to this. Firstly, if you’re using a cylinder mower, change the direction that you’re mowing at least once a month. This stops the grass being constantly pushed down in one direction.
If you want the famed “striped” look on a large lawn or one without a straight edge, the best place to start isn’t on one side of the lawn but straight down the middle. From there you can mow outwards on either side of the central strip.
Naturally it’s important that you have the right tools for the job, whether you buy lawnmowers online or from a store direct it’s worth spending time to make sure you have the right machine
Finally, when you get to the edges of the lawn, don’t worry about getting all the grass. A quick final cut once or twice around the edge of the lawn will give it a professional looking frame.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Mark Bartram is Managing Director of Lawnmowers Direct, so he knows a thing or two about lawn maintenance.