30 Ways to Mow the Lawn Safely & Effectively

How to Mow your Lawn Effectively (By tom_focus)Despite doing the basics to take care of your lawn, it might look shabby and unhealthy.

As puzzling as this may be, there’s probably a simple explanation:

You’re not mowing it the right way.

Mowing the lawn may seem like a cut-and-dry proposition, so to speak,

but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it.

By keeping a few basic tips in mind,

you’ll get a lot more out of your lawn mowing experience.

Here are 30 Tips to get you started…

1. Mow Regularly

Some people genuinely look forward to mowing the lawn.

If you’re not one of them, you might put it on the back burner.

That’s not a good idea.

It’s better to mow the lawn regularly, so schedule a day to mow the lawn.

Stick to the schedule unless the lawn truly doesn’t need to be mowed.

2. Use an Overlapping Pattern

To ensure that you get every last blade of grass, use an overlapping pattern.

There’s no need to get too fancy.

Horizontal or vertical lines are ideal.

Spirals and other patterns may look cool, but they can actually result in uneven cutting or even scalping, which means that the grass is cut dangerously short in places.

Lawn Striping
credit: AdamKR

3. Survey the Scene First

Never assume that the yard is free of debris.

Even if you don’t have kids underfoot, sticks, stones and other things can mysteriously appear in the yard.

Don’t just glance out the window to check.

Get out there and walk slowly around the yard.

In addition to potentially damaging your mower, stones and other debris can hurt you or even fly up and damage your home.

4. Keep Kids and Pets Out of the Yard

Mowing the lawn with kids and pets underfoot is a dangerous proposition.

It also makes the job more difficult in general.

Kids are often fascinated by lawnmowers, but they shouldn’t be allowed to run around the yard while you’re cutting the grass.

Let them watch from a window or from a deck or patio if they are old enough to resist the urge to get closer.

5. Keep Parasites at Bay

In addition to making your lawn look healthier, regular mowing helps to keep parasites, bugs and other pests at bay.

Nothing attracts insects to a yard like long, untended grass.

Long grass can also mask puddles of standing water, which are absolutely irresistible to mosquitoes.

6. Get a Mower that Suits Your Lawn

You’re less likely to keep up with the maintenance of your lawn if you don’t use the right lawnmower.

If your lawn is extremely small, you may be able to get away with a manual mower.

However, it’s almost always best to use a gas mower.

The larger your lawn is and the more terrain features it has, the more powerful your mower should be.

Manual Lawn Mower
credit: Ryaan

 

7. Clear the Blades

Ideally, you should clear the blades every time you mow the lawn.

Always wait about 10 minutes to ensure that they are safe to handle.

Wear gloves to clear them, or use a brush.

It’s especially important to clear the blades after mowing wet or especially long grass.

If clumps are allowed to stay on the blades, they can create problems for you later.

8. Protect Your Eyes

Getting even the tiniest amount of debris in your eye doesn’t feel good.

If the wrong thing flies up and gets in your eyes, you could be more than inconvenienced.

You might even end up in the ER.

Safety glasses are cheap, and they’re readily available at retailers like Home Depot.

Wear them every time.

9. Alternate Blade Heights for Uneven Lawns

It’s a lot easier to get attractive results when your lawn is nice and level.

That’s not always the case, though, and you might need to make accommodations for uneven ground.

One option is to alternate the blade height of your lawnmower every time you cut the grass.

As long as you mow consistently, your grass should look even.

10. Let Clippings Fall

As long as you mow the lawn on a regular basis, your clippings should be really short.

Let them just fall into the grass.

Contrary to popular belief, this won’t cause thatching.

In fact, clippings are bursting with rich nutrients like nitrogen and can actually improve the health and appearance of your lawn.

Lawn Clippings
credit: Paul Chan

11. Have Your Lawnmower Serviced Annually

Your lawnmower will last a lot longer and work more efficiently when it is serviced regularly.

Some people have their mowers serviced at the end of the lawn mowing season while others do it right before spring arrives.

Either option is fine; the point is to just get it done.

12. Don’t Mow Right after it Rains

If it rains on the day when you’re supposed to cut the grass, postpone the job until the lawn is dry.

Mowing wet grass is tedious and aggravating.

What’s even worse is that it causes clippings to form clumps that can damage your mower and your lawn.

When these clumps are left out on the grass, they can suffocate the fresh, living grass below.

It’s far better to just bide your time until things are dry again.

13. Mow Across Hills and Inclines

When grass is freshly cut, it can be really slippery.

Cuttings form a fine layer over the living grass, which makes for hazardous footing.

With that in mind, you should always mow across hills and inclines instead of up and down them.

It may feel a little unnatural at first, but it’s infinitely safer than doing it the other way.

14. Don’t Cut the Grass by More than 1/3 of its Height

In order to go longer between mowing jobs, people sometimes cut the grass really short.

This may seem like a logical thing to do, but it’s actually a surefire way to end up with an unattractive lawn.

The best rule of thumb is to cut no more than 1/3 of the total length of the grass at one time.

Any more than that can cause damage that will last for months.

15. Sharpen the Blades Regularly

Dull blades can wreak havoc on a lawnmower’s ability to cut the grass.

When you have your mower serviced, have them sharpen the blades.

You can and should do it yourself periodically too; every four to six weeks is a good rule of thumb.

Keep an extra set of blades on hand too.

The current ones will wear out eventually.

16. Keep Weeds at Bay

No one wants a lawn that’s riddled with weeds.

Fertilizer goes a long way toward preventing this problem, but regularly mowing the lawn works wonders too.

This is another reason to stay on top of your lawn maintenance.

Weeds won’t have a chance to grow when you cut the grass at least one time per week.

17. Upgrade to a Better Lawnmower

Is your lawnmower on its last legs, or is it simply not powerful enough to handle the demands of your lawn?

Either way, it’s well worth it to upgrade to a newer, better model.

The amount of time that this will save you makes it worth it.

A new lawnmower will do a much better job too.

Lawn Mower Tips
credit: wmliu

18. Take Care when Mowing Especially Long Grass

What happens if you go out of town or are otherwise unable to mow the lawn in a timely manner?

If the grass is too long, don’t try to cut it all down to size in a single pass.

Set the blade at a reasonable height and start there.

Lower them more if the grass is still too long and go over the lawn again.

This will be easier on your mower, and it will ensure that the clippings are nice and small.

19. Lubricate Your Lawnmower Regularly

When your lawnmower goes in to get serviced, it will be lubricated.

However, it should be periodically lubricated throughout the year too.

Make a point of regularly lubricating its parts.

This will keep it functioning properly and make it work more efficiently.

20. Never Pull a Push Mower

If you miss a spot, you may be tempted to pull your lawnmower back.

It’s fine to do that if it is motorized, but you shouldn’t do that with a push mower.

This can result in serious injuries.

Your feet could slip under the blades, and you could end up in the ER.

21. Use the Right Accessories

You can’t expect your lawnmower to do it all.

Even if you have a top-of-the-line model, it’s not going to be able to get into all of your yard’s nooks and crannies.

It shouldn’t get too close to trees either, so you should invest in weed trimmers and edgers to handle such things.

Keep them in great shape to ensure that they work well.

22. Bag Long Grass

It’s generally best to allow grass clippings to fall into the living grass.

If the grass is unusually long, however, you should bag it.

Otherwise, it will form a dense, heavy layer that can kill the living grass.

Bagging the clippings is more complicated, which is another reason to stay on top of this work.

23. Take Your Time

Like everyone, you’re probably very busy.

You may be tempted to rush when mowing the lawn.

This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

You’re more likely to miss spots, which means your lawn won’t look as neat and attractive.

It’s also easier to make dangerous mistakes when you’re in a hurry.

Give yourself a decent window of time to complete the work.

24. Always Check for Grass Clumps

Even if it seems like the grass is dry and falling into the lawn easily, check underneath the mower to make sure there aren’t any clumps when you’re done.

This will only take a second.

Just wait long enough to ensure that the lawnmower is cool and safe to touch.

25. Avoid Fixed Objects

Make sure you are aware of fixed objects that exist in the yard.

In-ground sprinklers are a prime example.

If you forget they are there, your lawnmower could run over them and break them.

The mower could be damaged too.

You might even be injured.

26. Mow First Thing in the Morning

In addition to being a lot more pleasant, mowing in the morning is smart because doing this work during the heat of the day can actually damage the grass.

Freshly cut grass doesn’t do well when it’s exposed to excessive heat.

Set your alarm and get an early start.

Just make sure not to do it too early, or you will upset the neighbors.

Mow your Lawn First thing in the Morning
credit: SteveStudio.GrandPaparazzi

27. Keep Grass Type in Mind

Different types of grass have different needs.

If you planted or transplanted the grass yourself, you should know what kind it is.

If it was there when you bought the house, do some research to find out what kind it is.

Some types of grass need to be kept longer than others, and some require different types of fertilizers.

28. Alternate Mowing Patterns

If you mow in vertical stripes one week, try to mow in horizontal stripes the next week.

Alternating patterns will produce more even results, and it will help the grass grow more effectively.

If necessary, mark your patterns on a calendar to keep track.

29. Wait to Mow after Fertilizing the Grass

Always wait at least 24 hours to mow the lawn after it has been fertilized.

If you do it too soon, the chemicals won’t have time to do their thing.

Furthermore, it’s not a good idea to expose yourself to fertilizers in general.

If your lawn is fertilized on the day when it’s usually mowed, just hold off until the following day.

30. Hire Someone Else to Do it For You

Perhaps you just don’t like mowing the lawn, or maybe it’s difficult for you to do.

Either way, there’s nothing wrong with hiring someone else to do it for you.

There might be a kid in the neighborhood who will do it, or you could hire a professional landscaping company to take care of it for you.