Mowing Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Lawn
Are you making any of the common mowing mistakes that can harm your lawn?
Even if you’ve been mowing lawns for years, you may still have room for improvement. And if your lawn has never reached the level of emerald perfection you’d like, a few technique changes may get you over the top.
To help you turn your lawn into the green carpet of your dreams, we share the mowing practices to avoid, explain how these mowing mistakes harm your turf grass, and describe what to do instead.
Lawn Mowing Mistakes to Avoid
Mowing Too Often
Most people mow their lawn every weekend (after all, that’s when you have “free” time, right?). But the frequency should really be based on how quickly the grass is growing – and that varies with the weather (for example, high heat and dry weather slow growth down), conditions (rain means a delay in mowing), turf type, overall health of the lawn, and more.
Leaving your lawn grass to grow a little taller also has several benefits:
- Taller grass can smother weeds more easily, by shading them or out-competing them.
- Taller grasses have more surface area for photosynthesizing, meaning healthier, stronger blades.
- Longer grass blades reduce water evaporation, so your irrigation water goes further.
- Keeping your mower set higher reduces the chance of over-mowing, or “scalping” areas of grass
Not Mowing Often Enough
This is not to suggest that you don’t mow regularly while your lawn grows in the warm months. Mowing so that you only need to take off a third or less of the height of your grass is a good rule to follow, as it keeps your grass blades at a healthy height and makes mowing easier.
Over mowing to compensate for a shaggy lawn means too-short grass and excessive clippings. While we normally recommend leaving grass clippings on the lawn to provide nutrients to the turf as they decompose, you shouldn’t do that if mowing has left large clumps or a thick layer. Excessive mulch clippings left on a lawn can block sunlight from reaching the grass beneath it, creating yellow areas that tempt people into using too much fertilizer to compensate.
Cutting Grass Too Short
Over mowing, or cutting grass too short, causes turf to dry out faster and can make bald spots where too much of the grass has been sheared off. Open areas in lawns are ideal for weeds to establish themselves, and seeding to fill in empty areas means you’ll have to stay off your grass (right when you want to lounge on it) until it grows in.
Mowing Wet Grass
Don’t mow if your lawn is wet from dew, rain, or irrigation.
- Wet grass blades are heavier and will bend or fold flat in front of your mower. This means you won’t get an even, overall trim, and areas of taller grass will spring up once the grass dries.
- It’s also more likely that your mower will tear grass blades instead of neatly clipping them, resulting in more visible damage to the ends of grass blade.
- If you mulch grass clippings over your lawn, they won’t be evenly distributed, and heavy clumps of wet grass can encourage fungus growth beneath them.
A dry lawn (and a sharp mower blade) ensures the evenest cut and an even distribution of mulched clippings.
Mowing With Dull Mower Blades
Keep your mower blades sharp. Just like in the kitchen, a sharp blade does a better job and saves time.
- Cutting your lawn with a dull mower tears, shreds, or pulls grass blades instead of neatly cutting them. This results in larger, irregular areas of grass blade damage, and missed spots you have to re-mow.
- If you see a white or brown cast to your lawn surface, it may be grass blade damage from a dull mower blade.
Regular mower blade sharpening is part of general tool maintenance that includes cleaning and oiling to keep your mower running efficiently. It also saves you time (no need to do a double-pass when mowing) and money (because your mower will last longer).
And don’t forget to clean your mower before winter storage. You’ll start your spring lawn care with a fine-tuned machine instead of visiting a repair shop or spending a sunny afternoon yelling at your tools.
Always Mowing In The Same Direction
You may have a habit of mowing your lawn the same way each time. If so, you might want to head in a new direction. Changing the direction of your mower is good for your grass for several reasons:
- You’ll avoid making ruts. Running your mower over the same place repeatedly will encourage ruts and reinforce irregular slopes in your soil’s surface. You’ll reduce repeated wear on the same grass from mower wheels, too.
- You’ll increase airflow. Shifting the location of your mower means you won’t compact the same strips of lawn, so you reduce soil compaction. Compacted soil repels water and reduces root growth, which you don’t want.
- You won’t flatten your grass as much. Cutting grass blades in the same direction can increase their tendency to grow in one direction. Regular direction changes will help keep grass blades upright, making your lawn look neat and even.
- You’ll look like a pro. Those stripes on baseball fields not only look neat, but they’re also beneficial. If you have enough lawn, you can mow stripes, checkerboards, or plaids in your lawn, too.
Alas, small lawns cut with a push mower won’t get the chance to be as flashy with patterning, but the grass will get the same benefits.
Don’t Want To Do All That Mowing Yourself?
We offer lawn maintenance programs to keep your lawn looking its best throughout the growing season. So, if you’ve had enough of mowing your lawn (or want to avoid any mowing mistakes), just give us a call at 703-402-9366!
Can You Cut Long Grass with a Lawn Mower: Secret Guide (2023)
Are you wondering if it’s possible to cut long grass with a lawn mower? Whether you’re a new homeowner or a seasoned landscaper, it’s important to know the answer. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of mowing long grass and discuss whether a standard lawn mower is up to the task.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to approach overgrown grass and what tools you might need to get the job done effectively.
So, let’s dive in and answer the question, “Can You Cut Long Grass with a Lawn Mower?”
Can You Cut Long Grass with a Lawn Mower?
Lawn mowers are one of the most common tools used for cutting grass in gardens and lawns. However, when it comes to long grass, many people wonder if a lawn mower is capable of cutting long grass.
The answer is yes. You can cut long grass with a lawn mower. However, there are a few factors you need to consider before mowing long grass.
Can You Cut Long Grass with a Lawn Mower? Mowing long grass with a lawn mower is possible, but it requires some preparation and caution. By following the proper steps and using the right equipment, you can avoid damaging your lawn mower and achieve a neatly trimmed yard.
Remember to follow the points listed above as step by step guide to complete the task perfectly without any issues.
So, whether you’re a homeowner or a landscaper, don’t hesitate to take on long grass with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction of a well-manicured lawn.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can grass be too long for a lawn mower?
Yes, grass can be too long for a lawn mower, especially for a standard push mower, which may struggle to cut tall grass efficiently.
How do you cut tall grass with a lawn mower?
To cut tall grass with a lawn mower, use a mower with a high cutting height setting and mow in stages, gradually lowering the height until the desired length is reached.
Which lawn mower is best for long grass?
A self-propelled or riding lawn mower with high engine power and a large cutting deck is best for long grass, as it can handle tall grass more easily.
How tall is too tall to mow lawn?
Grass taller than one-third of the mower’s cutting height is generally considered too tall to mow, as it can cause damage to the mower and result in an uneven cut.
James Charles is an exceptional individual who has made a significant impact in the fields of yard care.
How To Cut Extremely Long Grass In 5 Easy Steps
If you’ve been away on a long summer vacation and returned to a garden that looks more like a meadow than a lawn, don’t worry. It’s happened to all of us.
Sometimes it doesn’t even take a month-long vacation to face such a situation. All you need is a week-long rainfall and, before you know it, your lawn starts to look like the Amazon jungle!
Want to get tips on how to cut extremely long grass? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together everything you need to know and do to tame your wild lawn.
- Tips for Tackling Your Overgrown Lawn
- How To Cut Tall Grass: A Step By Step Guide
- 3 Tools To Cut Long Grass By Hand
- How To Use A Scythe
- How To Use A Shear
- How To Use A Sickle
- Mowing Tall Grass
- Must-Have Tools For Cutting Tall Grass
- Weed Eater Or Trimmer
- Grass Scythe
- Stop Overgrown Grass Before It Happens
- My Final Thoughts On Cutting Overgrown Grass
- Frequently Asked Questions
Tips for Tackling Your Overgrown Lawn
Cutting long grass isn’t as simple as pushing the mower, as you risk clogging the machine or damaging the lawn itself. Before you start the cutting process, take note of the following tips to tackle your overgrown lawn:
- Sharpen your blades: Make sure your mower and scythe blades are sharp and in good working condition. If you have a gas-powered mower, tune-up the engine to prepare it for the heavy job ahead.
- Prepare your protective clothing: You’ll need gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety glasses, rubber boots, and ear protection when using the mower and trimmer.
- Inspect the lawn for debris: The area of the lawn that requires cutting must be free from tree branches, rocks, and any other debris. Otherwise, your grass cutting machinery will get damaged.
- Keep pets and children away: Make sure your children and pets are moved to a safe area while you’re cutting the grass. In fact, no one should be nearby to avoid injury. You should also watch out for any creatures in your lawn, such as snakes, armadillos, or moles.
- Pause often: When tackling an overgrown lawn, remember to take a breather frequently as your mower or trimmer can easily overheat. Gas-powered mowers tend to stall out when they’ve been running too long.
- Cut the lawn in spring or summer: As a rule of thumb, never cut your overgrown grass in winter. The stress of regular trimming during the cold season can wreak havoc on the grass’s recovery.
How you cut your overgrown lawn now will affect it for the rest of the season! This is why you should carefully follow my recommendations to achieve the best results.
How To Cut Tall Grass: A Step By Step Guide
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when tackling an overgrown lawn is to try and cut all the grass on the first pass. NEVER attempt to cut more than 1/3 of your long grass in one session. It will damage the roots and encourage the spread of weeds.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, this task won’t be a day’s job to accomplish. So remember to only cut the top layer of your overgrown lawn and leave the rest for later.
These are the tools you’ll need for cutting tall grass:
- A string or blade trimmer
- Safety equipment (see my protective clothing section)
Step 1. Start by cutting long grass with a trimmer or weed eater. You can use a strong.080 or.0.95 trimmer line or blade trimmer before mowing your grass. Cut down a fraction of the grass (up to one-third) at a time.
Step 2. Once you’ve removed the top layer of the grass, use the trimmer again a couple of days later for the second round. Even if your grass is bent (this happens if the lawn has not been maintained for a year or so) a trimmer or scythe will efficiently cut the grass.
Step 3. To allow the lawn to recover, water it before leaving it for a week. This is a good opportunity for you to take a rest and put your feet up.
Step 4. After a week, it’s time for a second trim. Again use your trimmer or scythe to cut the grass down to less than 6 inches.
Step 5. Don’t forget to gather the grass clippings with a rake. You can always use them as mulch later.
Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of using a string trimmer or weedeater to cut their overgrown lawn. If you’re one of them, I have other suggestions. Go to the next part to learn how to cut extremely long grass using hand tools.
Tools To Cut Long Grass By Hand
Aside from a string trimmer, you also have the option of using basic grass-cutting tools to remove the top layer of your overgrown grass by hand. The most common hand tools are scythes, garden sickles, and shears.
But how do you use them to cut your overgrown grass?
How To Use A Scythe
Stand in a comfortable position and hold the scythe by its horizontal handle. Using the muscles in your hips and thighs, start by swinging the blade with a back-and-forth motion and work your way through the grass. For the best results, hold the cutting edge of the scythe parallel to the ground. This tool is ideal for cutting grass up to 2 feet tall. But unless you are experienced at handling this tool it may be best to try shears or a sickle.
How To Use A Shear
This small hand tool is ideal for cutting small sections of the lawn. Hold the handle the same way as a scythe so that the blades are parallel to the ground.
Squeeze the shear blades together to close the blades and cut as you move slowly across the yard. Click to buy shears at Amazon.
How To Use A Sickle
Hold the sickle with your right hand as though you want to play golf. Use gentle back-handed strokes so the blade moves away from your body (no, I’m not teaching you how to play tennis!). Make sure no one is nearby as the blades are very sharp! Buy at Amazon
Next comes the fun part…mowing tall grass. Follow the final steps and soon your jungle-like lawn will be back to how it should be.
Mowing Tall Grass
The mowing process will help get your grass down to the desired height. A previously trimmed lawn will be much easier to mow, though the task will require quite a lot of effort on your part. Depending on the type of mower you have, you’ll need to adjust the height setting to between 4 and 6 inches. The goal is to make sure the final result is completely even.
A word of caution: don’t mow your lawn whilst the grass is wet. This will make it extra-difficult to cut down plus your mower won’t even work properly. If the grass is wet, wait a few days until it’s completely dry before starting to mow. (Well, we did say the whole thing will take time…so be patient).
Here’s our step by step process for mowing tall grass:
Step 1. After adjusting the mower to the highest setting, make the first pass to reduce the grass height.
Be warned: this will be a long and slow task as the mower might struggle to work through the long grass. In case the machine stops, clean the blade area regularly to remove any blockage.
Now grab yourself a cold drink and take a pause.
Step 2. Time for the second pass. After you’ve reduced the grass height to a more manageable size during the first pass, change the mower setting by reducing the height of the blade before making a second pass.
Step 3. Remember to take your time just like you did before and clear out the blade during the cutting process. Otherwise, your mower just will not work properly.
Leave the lawn now for a few days to help it recover.
Step 4. After a few days have passed, the new haircut you’ve given your lawn will look more respectable.
Now it’s time for the third pass in order to get the lawn to its final height. Adjust your mower to its usual height, which is between 2 and 3 inches. This is the ideal setting for your lawn. Now go over your lawn one more time so you can achieve a nice even finish.
Before you pat yourself on the back and put all your tools away… there is the dreaded clearing of grass clippings. It’s all part of the process.
Step 5. For larger lawns, a leaf blower will efficiently clear up the clippings from the sidewalks. A broom will suffice for smaller lawns. Depending on the size of your lawn, the cleaning part could well be a day’s job so you might want to leave it until the following day.
Must-Have Tools For Cutting Tall Grass
When cutting tall grass there are four stand-out tools. If you have access to power tools, start off with a string trimmer or weed eater and trim down to around 4-6 inches. If cutting grass by hand, start off with a sickle or grass scythe, working your way down to a mowable length of around 3-4 inches.
For large lawns, opt for a gas-powered mower. An electric lawnmower is best used for small yards within the restriction of the cable length.
A push reel mower is ideal for thick grass but it does require a certain amount of energy. There is also the battery-powered self-propelled mower that comes with 7 height settings and 20 inches of cutting diameter.
Weed Eater Or Trimmer
You have the option between gas, electric, or cordless weed eaters. This tool makes the job of cutting long grass easier than a mower and is perfect for clearing areas of long overgrown weed or brush.
Once you get the hang of using a trimmer, you’ll be able to maintain your lawn preventing it from turning into a micro-jungle.
A battery-powered grass trimmer provides you will complete flexibility and movement around your lawn and yard. Corded models generally leave you restricted to the cord length and the potential of the cord catching on objects or damaging flower beds.
For detailed insight into how to choose the best trimmer for your garden check out the article below 8 Best Cordless Battery Operated Weed Eaters, featuring a detailed buying guide and giving a first-hand review of the best premium and budget weed eaters on the market right now.
This is a single short-handled tool made to be used with one hand. The inner curve of the sickle’s blade is the sharp part.
A sickle is easy to store and much lighter than a trimmer, but it’s typically used for cutting small patches of grass. With each slash, you can easily remove the overgrown grass, even if it’s up to a meter high!
The final tool we will look at is one of the most common hand tools for cutting long grass. Unlike a sickle that has a single hand, whereas a scythe is a two-handed tool.
It consists of a metal or wooden shaft, which is around 6 feet in length with an S-curve or straight shape. The handle of the scythe is adjustable and the size of the blade can be anywhere from 2 to 4 feet long.
Stop Overgrown Grass Before It Happens
By now, you’ve become familiar with how to cut extremely long grass using some of the tools I’ve mentioned above. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place?
Setting up regular mowing at intervals is all it takes to help you prevent an overgrown lawn. The next time you put your doctor’s visit or a party date on your phone’s calendar, don’t forget to include the mowing task as an alert.
Tip: If you’re going on vacation, mow the lawn the day before you leave. You don’t want to return and face the arduous task of mowing tall grass in your backyard.
My Final Thoughts On Cutting Overgrown Grass
When you’re dealing with an overgrown lawn, learning how to cut extremely long grass with the right tools is essential to prevent damaging your lawn and affecting its recovery.
Once you get the hang of using a weed eater or a scythe, you’ll easily accomplish the task without hiring professional help!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Zero-Turn Mower Cut Tall Grass?
As long as you don’t let the grass get more than 6 inches tall you can use a zero-turn mower. When dealing with taller grass and weeds, your zero-turn may get damaged or clogged. Use a gas-powered string trimmer instead for better results.
How Do You Cut Long Grass Without Ruining it?
Never cut your lawn in one pass as this will ruin the grass. Use a string trimmer or scythe to remove the top layer first before working your way through the rest. You can use the lawn mower a few days later to get the grass to the desired length.
How to Tackle an Overgrown Lawn
Have you come back from a long weekend getaway to find your lawn has become overgrown? Or did you happen to miss a few mows (we all get busy) and you are now left with a lawn that is difficult to tackle?
If this is you, don’t fret we’ve got some tips and tricks up our sleeve to help get your lawn back to a more manageable height.
Mowing rule of thumb
A general rule of thumb when mowing is to only remove one third of the leaf blade with each mow. By raising the mowing height to accommodate this, you will be able to ensure that you will not be removing too much of the leaf blade at once.
When you remove more than one third of the leaf blade at one time the lawn can become scalped, and you will be cutting into the stem of the grass. This can result in a deterioration in your plants’ health and a patchy-looking lawn.
Mowing an overgrown lawn after a few days or weeks
If your lawn has gone without a mow for a few weeks, you may need to raise the mower height to ensure you are not removing too much of the leaf blade at once and badly scalping into the lawn.
To get your mowing height correct, we suggest mowing over a small area first on a high setting. This will ensure you don’t accidentally scalp it and you can bring the level down from there if required.
If the lawn does need to go lower, we recommend waiting 3 days before giving the lawn another mow to bring it down further.
On the next mow, follow the same process of adjusting your mowing height and wait another 3 days before the next mow.
You can continue with this process until you reach your desired mowing height.
While mowing your lawn back down to its original height may be tempting, it is best to be patient and slowly bring the height of the mower down, so that the plant will remain healthy. Although this process takes time, you will cause less stress to the grass and won’t undo all of your hard work that it took to get your lawn into a great shape in the first place.
Overgrown lawn above knee height
When your lawn has crept up on you and is past knee height, a different approach may be necessary. Taking the lawn down gradually will take too long and you will likely end up scalping the lawn regardless.
If the lawn is too high to use a mower, it is best to reduce the height with a whipper snipper. This should aid in getting the lawn down to a height that can then be mown.
Once the lawn is at a height that can be mown, you can bring the lawn right back down with your mower. A notch lower than your normal mowing height is best depending on your grass variety. If you have buffalo grass it is important to not go too low and damage the runners it needs to repair from. After you do this, your lawn will not be in the best shape with very little leaf and will need to recover in the following weeks. During this recovery period, it is best to keep water up to the lawn and continue to mow regularly back at your normal mowing height. This will allow the leaf to grow back at your desired level.
Once the lawn has started to recover and has some new green growth, you can fertilise. It is important to not fertilise straight after it has been mown down as this can create more stress for the grass. It is not recommended that you do this in the cooler months.
In spring and summer, the lawn should be able to recover in a few weeks as growing conditions are ideal. But in autumn and winter, the lawn will take longer to repair as the grass’s growth will slow down as the temperature drops.
How can I stop my lawn from becoming overgrown?
By consistently mowing your lawn, the turf will be more consistent in growth, healthier, less susceptible to weeds, pests and diseases and will look great.
Mowing will not only become an easier task when done frequently but will help your lawn flourish over time.
What should I do to my lawn before I go away?
If you are going away, best to mow the day before you are set to leave or close to your departure. Although it is tempting to mow your lawn nice and short, so it doesn’t get too out of hand, it is best to leave your mower height as normal. If you are planning on going away for more than a week in the growing months, it may be best to arrange someone to mow it for you.
If you are going away over the warmer months, you may want to look at using a PGR (Plant Growth Regulator) such as Primo Maxx. A PGR will help slow down the growth of your grass, requiring you to mow your lawn less frequently. You can find more information on PGR’s here.
What is an ideal mowing height?
Different turf varieties do have differing mowing heights. To see what mowing height is best for your lawn, check out our blog here.
For more information on mowing your lawn, check out more of our mowing blogs here.