Mowing the lawn involves a lot more than simply making the grass shorter. Proper mowing is essential for maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn.    

A blade of grass is actually a long, narrow leaf. The difference between grasses and other plants is their ability to replace their leaves. That’s the reason why grasses don’t die when you cut off their tops. Removing the tips of grass actually causes more grass to take its place. New grass leaves spread out in an attempt to absorb more sunlight. These new leaves make your lawn thick and healthy.  

How often you mow your lawn is determined by how fast your grass is growing. You never want to remove more than one-third of the grass length at a time. Cutting your grass too short is known as scalping. This could result in stresses that your lawn might not be able to recover from. When your grass is growing quickly, this will mean mowing more than once a week. If your grass is growing slowly, every 10 days might suffice. Don’t let the calendar tell you when to mow. A vigorous root system means healthier grass. The amount of roots that can be supported is determined by the grass height. Taller grass can support deeper roots. This improves drought tolerance. For our lawn, three to four inches seems to be ideal. Many people find a shorter lawn more attractive. They like to mimic the look of a manicured golf course. This actually reduces your lawn’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. Higher cut lawns cast shade on the soil which can also inhibit weed seeds from sprouting. 

Most of us mow the lawn first before we trim. This may not be the best practice. You may want to use your string trimmer around you trees and fences first. Lawn mowers bumping up against trees and fences can cause extensive damage. Take your time trimming sidewalks and driveways as well. When trimming flower beds, make sure the debris lands on the lawn and not in the beds. When you make your pass with the lawn mower you’ll have fewer trimmings to sweep.

In order to achieve a more professional look, establish a perimeter around your yard. Once you’ve done all of your trimming, mow along the boundaries and any fences you have. This will give you a buffer zone to make your pivots and turns. Mow your yard in rows, going completely across. Turn around and mow the other direction, slightly overlapping at each turn. Move slowly and deliberately, as straight as possible. The weight of the mower will create attractive stripes on your lawn. Make sure to have your blade sharpened at least once a season.  A dull blade leaves your grass looking fuzzy. Don’t bag your clippings.  This will return nitrogen back to you soil. Don’t worry, these clippings won’t contribute to the build-up of thatch in your turf. Each time you mow your lawn, make your passes from a different direction. It’s easier to prevent soil compaction and the formation of ruts than it is to correct them. 

For many people, a lush, green lawn symbolizes the pride they have for their home. Consider the message that an unkempt yard sends to your neighbors. 

 Rachel and Ivan Minnis are avid gardeners. They live in Leavenworth. For more information, visit The Minnis Rose Garden on Facebook. Contact them at rnlyes@hotmail.com