Lawn Care Tips

Mowing a New or Established Lawn

Don Schlup

Not only the appearance, but of more importance, the general health and vigor of the lawn is contingent on a good mowing routine. Only a sharp, properly adjusted mower set to the minimum of 2 1/4" in height should be used.

Rotary mowers are the most common mowers for homeowners. It is important to keep the mower blades sharp so that the grass blades are cut cleanly. Too often this is overlooked, causing the blades to tear and rip causing "white tipping."

Change the direction and pattern each time you mow. If you mow repeatedly in the same direction, the mower tends to push the grass over rather than cut it cleanly. Eventually the grass begins to lean in the direction mowed.

If you prefer to leave the clippings on your lawn, mulching mowers chop the clippings into small pieces that quickly disappear. The key to getting clippings to break down, even with the mulching mowers, is to mow often enough that clippings don't build up on the surface.

The first mowing of a newly laid sod lawn should be after the sod has had time to knit with the soil. During the rapid growing times it may be necessary to let the sod dry enough to permit mowing during the 10 to 12 days after installation. The first few mowings should be at the height of 3" and done with a rotary mower and diagonal to the way the sod is laid. Since the length of the grass clippings may be 1" to 1 1/2" long, it is best to pick these up.

Subsequent mowing should be done whenever the grass clippings measure 1/2" or 25% of the above ground grass plant. Never cut off more than one third of the plant height (approximately 3/4") at any one mowing. Removal of too much of the plant may result in shock, unsightly appearance, or susceptibility to disease.

No matter whether you have a new or an established lawn, regular mowing with sharp blades will add to a more healthy and attractive lawn.