Gardening expert Tanya Visser shares her top tips for a healthy lawn…
Spring has arrived, which means that your lawn will be awakening to another season of growing green and lush. A healthy lawn, though, depends on how you treat it and how you mow it.
Mowing looks deceptively simple, but every time you cut your lawn you’re determining its chances of success or failure. Mow it the right way, and your lawn will respond by growing healthy and thick. Mow it badly and you could end up killing it. Here are our top 10 mowing tips for a healthy lawn:
1. Don’t scalp
Cutting your lawn too short (scalping) makes it vulnerable to diseases and weed infestation. A lawn that is cut too short is weak and sparse, which allows weeds to get growing. A scalped lawn also has a weak root system that makes the lawn susceptible to drought or being scorched by heat waves.
2. Keep the blades sharp
Sharp lawn mower blades cut grass cleanly, while blunt blades tear grass unevenly. Torn grass is susceptible to infection by diseases, and can also die back after a cut. Sharpen blades at least a couple of times every spring/summer.
3. Adjust the mower height
Don’t leave your mower at one height all season. In the height of summer, adjust the mower to let the grass grow longer – this gives the soil more shade, slowing down evaporation. Taller grass also develops longer roots, which makes it better able to withstand hot spells and water shortages. As summer ends, lower the cutting height again.
4. Mowing in the shade
Here’s our top tip for growing a healthy lawn in the shade: Lawns in the shade need longer leaves to aid photosynthesis. (There is also a number of shade-specific varieties, should your lawn battle.)
5. Don’t mow wet grass
Resist the temptation to mow the lawn early on a cool, damp morning. Wet grass can quickly clog and damage your mower, even if it isn’t bad for the actual lawn. Wet soil, though, can lead to ruts in the lawn.
6. Alternate the mowing direction
Alternate the direction in which you mow. This prevents the soil from being compacted and ruts forming. Compacted soil can lead to disease outbreaks and weed growth.
7. Don’t mow in the heat of the day
Cutting a lawn stresses out each of those thousands of little plants. Reduce the stress by mowing when it is cool, so that the plants lose less water and can recover quickly.
8. Don’t remove the clippings
Grass clippings don’t have to be removed. Not only is it a waste of energy, but it’s also a waste of resources – grass clippings replace nutrients in the lawn that have been lost, so you don’t need as much fertiliser. If you want your lawn to be neater, remove the clippings but throw them on your compost heap to be used later.
9. Be careful on slopes
Mowing on slopes is where most mowing accidents occur. Reduce these by using an automated mower. Alternatively, replace your lawn on slopes with a low-maintenance groundcover.
10. Mow a little, often
Cutting your lawn a little bit but often is our top tip for a healthy lawn. Cut off a maximum of a third of the length of the grass, but try to keep it less than that. This will give it the best chance for a quick recovery.