Few things complement a home better than a lush, velvety-green lawn — and many homeowners put in a good deal of time and effort trying to maintain it. However, despite their efforts, their lawns sometimes fall short. A lawn in poor condition can give the impression that the homeowners don't care for their homes or yards. However, this is often not the case. Simple mowing mistakes can be the culprit when a lawn isn't looking as good as it should. Fortunately, these mistakes have simple fixes.
Here are the top five mistakes homeowners make when mowing their lawns.
Using Dull Mower Blades
Using a mower with dull blades results in a lawn that looks ragged and uneven. It can also leave your grass vulnerable to various pathogens and pests. Because dull mower blades tend to tear at the grass rather than making clean, sharp cuts, the grass becomes weaker. Using weak blades may even result in the grass being pulled up by the roots during mowing. Although lawn mower blades don't need to be razor sharp, they need to be sharp enough to make a reasonably clean cut. You should be sharpening your lawn mower blades after every eight mowings — about two or three times per year.
Cutting the Grass Too Short
Although it’s tempting to cut the grass as short as possible to lengthen the time between mowings, this is one of the most harmful things you can do to your lawn. Repeatedly cutting the grass too short results in dry, bare spots on the lawn. When grass is too short, it doesn't have enough surface on the leaf blade for proper photosynthesis — leaving the grass deprived of the nutrients it needs to thrive. Many healthy lawns can survive the occasional short cut. But if this happens repeatedly, the lawn will become so damaged that it can't be rejuvenated. Unlike seasonal dormancy when lawns turn brown for a time, lawns that have been cut too short struggle to spring back to life. As a general rule, you should remove no more than one-third off the top of the grass each time you mow.
Mowing When the Grass is Wet
Cutting the grass while it's wet is never a good idea. Not only is it slippery and slick, but it also tends to clump together and stick to the mower blades and underneath the mower deck. Enough buildup of wet grass may harm the mower, and the only way to remove the grass is to turn the mower over and manually take it off the blades and the mower deck. Additionally, the grass is more likely to be pulled out by the roots, and the wet clumps of grass on the ground may attract fungal pathogens.
Not Keeping the Underside of the Mower Clean
Mowing the lawn is hard work. You may want to quickly put your mower away and enjoy a cold drink while admiring the results of your labor. However, failure to clean the underside of the mower regularly can have disastrous results. It can restrict air circulation to the motor causing it to overheat. Even if you're careful only to mow your lawn when it's dry, lawn clipping will nonetheless build up underneath the mower and on the mower deck.
Mowing in the Same Direction Every Time
Many homeowners mow in the same direction every time they mow their lawn without even realizing it. This eventually leads to ruts and soil compaction. Additionally, cutting the grass in a single direction each time causes the grass to grow in that direction — which can make your yard look slanted and lopsided.
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