Mowing is the most frequent operation that is carried out on turf. Get it right and your lawn can look beautiful. Get it wrong and it's likely you're causing more harm than good.
Time to give your mowing practices some thought?
Mowing and early spring
It's the start of the year... mow on a high setting. 25mm at the very lowest in a healthy lawn to start with. Make the most of your heights of cut, even if they're limited. Never take more than a third of the plant in a single cut, ideally less. If you find yourself doing this, you're not mowing often enough, regardless of the time of year. Your lawn will soon lose colour, health, and density. If you lose density, The advantageous moss and weeds will soon be present this time of year.
If your lawn has some moss do not be tempted to cut into it. If you shave the grass down to the same height of the moss, and conditions are favouring moss growth rather than grass growth (damp and cool - often in the UK!) then you're not going to see that grass again, and moss coverage will increase further.
Mowing and disease
You may not even realise your lawn is suffering from disease... however red thread is common in lawns if conditions dictate. How does it get there? Blunt blades more often than not. If your mower is tearing the leaf rather than cutting it, you're running the risk of issues. Get your mower serviced regularly or sharpen blades yourself. Disease can occur when damp, humid conditions persist on fine turf, but blades are the number 1 culpit when using rotary mowers.
Mowing and turf health
So you've followed the above, you've made it into late spring / early summer. The grass is really starting the grow. You've been mowing fortnightly, following the 1/3 rule, but now you're taking a lot off with each cut... increase your mowing frequency. This should be at least weekly May onwards. Mowing is the pruning of the plant, it will assist in your lawn growing thicker and healthier. Mowing frequently will limit thatch production. With the 1/3 rule in mind, this is vital if you're mowing inside 20mm. All dependent on the lawn you want to keep, but mowing weekly, if not every 3-5 days should be part of your plan May - September.
Mowing and drought resistance
July - the lawn is looking great but losing a little colour. You don't want to have to pile the water on after work* - it's time, money and the environment. Rather than reduce your mowing frequency, increase your height of cut slightly. The majority of the grass plant is water, if you don't want to put it on, try not to remove too much of it. Your lawn will still look great slightly longer, promise.
*If you do water, water deeply, infrequently.
Is it time to put the mower away yet?
The average November temperature is higher than the average March temperature for the majority of the UK. Don't base decision making on the calendar, base your thinking on conditions - this goes for all operations. Dependent on species, the grass plant is growing when the temperature passes 7c, even in January. If the daytime maximums are in double figures, and your lawn doesn't suffer from excessive shade, then you should still be mowing every 2-4 weeks. Prolonged cold spells have become increasingly rare before Christmas. Monthly winter mowing will keep the lawn clear of leaves too.
How do you get those stripes!?
Get a rear-roller mower! They're more pricey but worth the investment. A 4-wheeled mower will sink into soft, thatchy turf and you can't get as close to the edges. Mow in the same direction for a month or two for the best looking effect before changing direction.
As you can see, correct mowing practices make a massive difference to the quaility of your lawn. Do not neglect!