The mowing of your lawn is the most frequently carried out task in the garden. Get it right along with the correct treatments and your lawn will be looking fantastic. Here we're going to look into the types of mower you may own or be considering, and the things you should be considering before heading down to the garden shed.
Choosing the ideal mower
The common types of lawn mower are cylinder and rotary. A cylinder mower is the ultimate machine. They deliver a far greater number of cuts per square meter via a drum and a bottom blade in a scissor like action. They will leave the best possible stripe and the superior quality of cut will assist lawn health. You will see this type of mower on sports pitches and formal lawns. The drawbacks are that they require a flat lawn to avoid scalping and that their maintenance requirements are much higher. Many are quiet heavy and could be suitable for lawns with steps.
The most popular for lawns is a rotary mower. This is where a single blade is facing downwards cutting the grass by bashing it. When the blade is kept sharp these mowers can too do a great job on lawns. These mowers are often used on sports grounds for hoovering up debris after fixtures.
We would recommend in most instances the best of both worlds - a rotary mower with a rear roller. Some rotary are made up of four wheels which cause compaction with all of the weight of the machine on these four small wheels. Without a roller they don't create a stripe.
A rear roller is vital for striping your lawn and spreading the weight of the machine, thereby allowing you to mow when the ground is a little softer without causing harm to the soil. Let face it, the soil is rarely bone dry in the UK!
What height should a lawn be cut at?
We would recommend mowing between 20 and 40mm. Mowing too close will stress the grass. Grass cut within 20mm - at a sports turf height of cut will require sports turf level of maintenance including increased watering and fertiliser input.
There are many factors which dictate the ideal height of cut for your lawn. A smooth, flat lawn which is not in full sun over the summer months would be a candidate to mow on the lower side of the scale. An undulating lawn which gets effected by waterlogging or drought is a candidate for the 30-40mm range.
How often should I mow the lawn?
This should be determined by growth. No more than a third of the height of the grass should be cut on any given day, even if the lawn has got away from you a little bit following winter or a wet period. If you find yourself taking off a lot of grass your height of cut needs to be increased along with the frequency of mowing.
As a guide, we find that healthy lawns within our Lawn Care Treatment Programme require mowing up to each week between April and October. November to March will demand a mowing frequency of once or twice per month dependent on weather conditions.
In perfect growing conditions (~20c temperatures, adequate sunlight hours and rainfall), mowing more often than once per week would be of benefit to your lawn.
Which direction should I mow in? If using a machine with a rear-roller creating a nice stripe, this will be all the more effective with the sun behind you (a tip for when taking a photo!). It is very important that you do not get carried away at this point. Repeatedly mowing the lawn in the same direction will create wheel ruts when with a 4-wheeled machine, and / or press the grass repeatedly in the same direction. This will lead to the grass no longer growing upright.
This encourages creeping grasses and will mean that more scarification is required to laterally cut this growth. Look to alternate you mowing direction once per month or every 3 cuts.
Lawn Mower Maintenance
The bit you were looking to avoid! To get the best possible cut from your mower it will need a little care.
- Be sure your machine has a sharp blade. A rotary mower cuts by bashing the grass. It is really important that this blade is sharp to avoid tearing the grass and therefore encouraging disease such as red thread.
- Keep it clean! A build up of grass within the cutting deck, mower shoot and box will impact performance and the life span of your machine. Switch off the fuel, tip your mower back and take a pressure washer to the cutting deck.
- Check the oil level and spark plug. When was the last time these were changed? These require an annual review at least. - Check any cables, air filters and grease points.
- Maintenance not your thing? Take your machine to be serviced. Be aware that many homeowners have this same idea in spring, so try to beat the rush over winter. If you're a little late then make sure you're not going to be leaving yourself without a machine when you need it most.
An attractive lawn requires more than just mowing. By boxing off the grass clippings we're only ever removing nutrients from the soil. Not collecting the clippings is an option, but for this we would want to be mowing as often as each day for these grass clippings to disperse unnoticed and not contribute to the build up of thatch. We provide the required extra layer of maintenance to lawns through our Lawn Care Treatment Programme. Slow-release nutrition is key to a sustainable and healthy lawn year round rather than a DIY product quick fix. See us in action here.