Mowing techniques

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Mowing is one of the most frequent tasks carried out on lawns. Regular and correct mowing helps to create an attractive sward and is the most important lawncare operation.

Mowing height

As mowing begins in spring set the mower on a high setting. Thereafter gradually lower the cut until the correct mowing height for your turf type is reached. For fine lawns this may be as low as 6mm (1/4in) up to 13mm (1/2in). For ornamental lawns heights vary from 13mm (1/2in) up to 25mm (1in) in summer, up to 40mm (11/2in) in other seasons.

Avoid too close mowing, which produces an attractive dense sward, but may result in weaker grass, with shallow rooting more susceptible to stress, weed and moss competition. A close mown lawn may need a regular feeding and watering program. Extremely low cutting will scalp the lawn leaving unsightly stubble. Cutting too high results in loose weak growth.

Mowing frequency

Lawn quality is best when mowing is at frequent intervals. On average mow twice weekly in summer and once a week in spring and autumn or dry spells in summer. A useful guide is to remove up to one-third of the shoot at each cut. Mow under trees less frequently and at a higher cut.

Mowing in winter

Mowing is carried out mainly between March and October. During mild spells in winter, an occasional cut at a high setting can be carried out. Do not attempt to do this if ground conditions are very soft or frozen, or during spells of cold drying winds.

Quality of cut

This depends on the type of mower used and the condition of the lawn. The highest quality cuts are achieved with cylinder mowers with a large number of blades. Brushing before mowing is advisable on fine lawns, and when mowing in the morning to remove dew. Rotary mowers and hover mowers are suitable for ornamental rather than fine lawns. The rotating disc or blade needs to be sharpened occasionally during the season to maintain a quality cut.

Removing clippings

It is best to remove clippings except in spells of hot dry weather, when they can help reduce water evaporation. Leaving clippings may return nutrients to the soil, but spreads weeds, impedes aeration and encourages worms and disease. If clippings are not collected it is important to maintain frequency of cutting to keep clippings small, and avoid returning clippings in damp conditions.

Mowing problems

Scalping can occur:

Tearing occurs:

Ribbing occurs:

Ragged cuts occur: