North & South Surrey Lawn Mowing Service
Sure, lawn mowing seems an easy enough thing for most homeowners that reside in Surrey, BC. You just fuel the mower, snap the cordage, march or ride around in rectangles for a little bit, and the plan is done.
Ah, but the lawn expert recognizes there’s a lot more to it than that. Precisely how you cut, when you mow and even what you do with the trimmings can make a huge impact in exactly how your grass performs.
Mowing the lawn is perhaps the most underrated and discounted part of good lawn care.
Proper Grass Height For Lawn Mowing
The major mowing slip the usual homeowner makes is mowing grass too short. Many folks totally scalp the lawn, using the putting-green look as the preferred model.
That’s an unhealthy tactic culturally for several reasons:
1) It increases water and nutrition needs as the turf makes an attempt to fight back from near total decapitation.
2) It reduces the amount of chlorophyll available to manufacture energy to fuel the grass roots. (Longer blades mean more chlorophyll per grass plant and consequently more vigorous grass.).
3) It allows the soil to dry out faster, which increases the ill effects of drought.
And, weeds germinate better and get off to a faster start when taller grass blades aren’t shading them out.
What really makes a mowed lawn look good is the evenness of the cut– not its height. Most people are just as happy with a 3-inch-tall evenly cut lawn as a 1-inch-tall evenly cut lawn.
A bad cut can dry out your lawn and enhance weed growth.
The idea that cutting short lengthens the time between cuts also doesn’t hold up. Grass effectively grows faster after it’s been cut short as it tries to reconstruct itself to its genetic norm.
A good in-season height for many turfgrasses is 2 1/2 to 3 inches– typically the highest setting on mowers. The exception is toward the end of the season when it makes sense to cut a little shorter so the grass blades will dry faster over winter. That can help head off early-spring fungal problems such as snow mold.
South Surrey Lawn Mowing Tip
When to get out the mower, a second important issue is. A good rule of thumb is to mow the lawn often enough so you’re never removing more than one-third of the blade length at a time.
Mowing is actually pruning. And that’s a form of injury to the grass plants. Severe cutbacks are much more stressful on grass than lighter cuts and require more energy to heal.
This may mean mowing twice a week or every four or five days when grass is growing fastest in mid-spring. It’s much better to cut that often than to wait a few more days and end up having to whack 3 inches off of a 6-inch stand. That’s not only a shock to the grass but creates an unusually large mass of clippings.
What To Do With Grass Clippings Here In Surrey
Big piles of clippings are bad news because they can’t be left on the lawn (plus the City of Surrey doesn’t like it much either). They’ll mat down the living grass blades and shut off the sun’s rays, which will yellow the grass and encourage diseases. Clippings that can be seen even in small piles should be raked up and preferably composted or used as a mulch over garden beds.
Clippings can provide 1/3 of your lawn’s Nitrogen needs.
Clippings won’t be a problem if you’re mowing regularly. They’ll be short enough to disappear into the lawn. It’s actually best to let the clippings drop into the lawn as opposed to bagging them.
They bring back precious nutrients to the lawn soil as they break down. Turfgrass researchers at Penn State University estimate that letting the clippings decay in place supply about one-third of the lawn’s total nitrogen needs for the season.
The decaying clippings add organic matter to the soil.
Clippings are not a considerable cause of thatch in the lawn, as is often believed. Thatch is that layer of dead roots, crowns and other decomposing matter that can impede rainfall and oxygen exchange when it’s too thick (i.e. more than an inch). In a healthy lawn, microbes quickly break down small grass clippings.
Returning the clippings to the ground is recycling at its best and keeps organic “waste” out of the trash stream.
Mulching mowers do a superb job of chopping the clippings into small pieces. When you mow at frequent enough intervals, even ordinary side-discharge mowers disperse clippings well enough to let them lie.
If you fall behind, at least try to work around the perimeter of the yard, shooting the clips inward so you’ll end up having to rake only one or two channels in the middle. If you go back and forth– shooting first to the right and then to the left– you’ll end up with a channel of clippings every two passes.
Keep away from cutting the grass when it’s wet. The clippings are most likely to entangle together then, you won’t get an even cut (the mower wheels will flatten grass blades), and you may even compact the soil if it’s wet.
Also don’t endeavor to mow when grass is going brown and dormant in a drought– even if you’re mainly doing it because weeds are continuing to grow and are poking up. Grass crowns become fragile and brittle in drought conditions, and if you smash them with your feet and mower wheels, the plants won’t recover when rains return. Dead crowns equal dead grass.
The Right Lawn Mower For Lawn Mowing
Some people swear by their reel mowers– the ones with the old-fashioned bladed drums that go around and snip off grass blades like scissors. These work great, but so do rotary mowers when they’re kept in good condition.
No matter which style of mower you’re using, the most important thing you can do is keep the blades sharp. Nice, sharp lawn mower blades make a clean cut. Dull blades rip the heads off grass blades and cause ragged edges.
That’s a cosmetic problem because rough, ragged cuts make bigger openings that turn brown and stand out more than sharp cuts. But even worse, those bigger openings cause the grass to lose more moisture, which increases drought stress in hot weather. And bigger openings leave grass blades more vulnerable to disease spores.
Sharpening your lawn mower blades once every few years is not enough. Two or three times during the course of the growing season is a better game plan, or even sharpening once every 25 hours is not extreme. Some homeowners own two different lawn mower blades so they always have one for the mower while the other is being sharpened.
Lawn Mowing Patterns
There’s the issue of the course you take as you mow. Many South Surrey homeowners take the exact same route every time because it makes sense to them for one reason or another (convenience, habit, avoiding the nosy neighbor, etc.) There’s no horticultural problem with that, but altering the route can make a cosmetic difference.
Look closely and you’ll recognize that the shade of the grass appears different depending on which way you passed over it with the mower. That’s because the force of the spinning mower blades blows the grass blades as it cuts them. Light reflecting off the grass will make it look lighter or darker, depending on which way the blades are laying.
It’s this pattern of mowing that accounts for the designs often seen in athletic fields. Some really avid home-lawn fans do the same thing themselves, and there are even special mower blades designed for creating patterns.
Varying your route can make a slight difference in the symmetry of the cut by seeing to it no particular areas keep getting pushed down while others are always cut off.
South Surrey lawn mowing might not be rocket technology, but it isn’t exactly foolproof either. And keep those lawn mower blades sharp!
Now that you know the best way to mow, have fun.
If you’d prefer we look after your lawn mowing service then request a quote.