How to Mow the Lawn Like a Pro, Step-by-Step: Plus 10 Top Mowing Tips

by Daniel Hunter

Do you want to know how to mow a lawn like the pros?

Well you’ve come to the right place!

You see, cutting the grass is the single most important part of lawn maintenance. It’s also the most overlooked, neglected and it’s never given the respect it deserves.

Trust me, I’ve seen gardeners turn stunning lawns into weedy, mossy disasters. All through poor mowing practices, either through lack of knowledge or pure laziness.

So in this article, I’ll explain how to mow your lawn. I’ll also give you my top 10 mowing tips to not only create an epic finish but also improve the health of your lawn.

How to Mow Your Lawn, Step-by-Step

Here’s Edgebaston Cricket Club groundsman, Keith Smith mowing his lawn like a pro. Because, well, he is one!

You might have watched that video and thought, ‘I just watched a guy mow a lawn. That’s 15 second of my life I’ll never get back!’

But here’s what going on in that video;

Step 1: Mow the Perimeter of Your Lawn (And Around Any Obstacles) First

Mowing the perimeter of your lawn and around any obstacles first does two things;

  1. It creates a frame or a border
  2. It gives you the space to turn your mower as you mow up and down your lawn. This is especially helpful if your lawn doesn’t have a mowing strip you can run your mower over.

To create more space for a larger mower, go around the perimeter twice to create a thicker border.

Step 2: Mow Back and Forth in Straight Lines, With a Slight Overlap

Now push your lawn mower in straight lines from one end of your lawn to the other. Then, turn your mower and come back the other way, overlapping your last pass. Overlapping like this prevents you from leaving those pesky little Mohican-like strips of grass behind.

The amount you’ll need to overlap will depend on your mower setup. That said, you want to place the wheels of your mower inside the cut edge of your last pass.

Many people push the mower back and forth in different directions like a vacuum. Don’t do this. Not only does it knacker you out, but if your lawn mower has wheels, they’ll cut into the lawn and create deep tracks.

Step 3: Edge Your Lawn When Needed

If your lawn meets a path or mowing strip, like Keiths, you can roll your lawn mower over the edge to cut them.

But if your lawn meets a border or flower bed, you’ll want to edge your lawn. Either with a pair of lawn edging shears or a strimmer with an edging setting.

10 Lawn Mowing Tips For a Professional Finish

If you follow these 8 lawn mowing tips, I GUARANTEE you’ll have a thicker, healthier lawn in a matter of weeks.

I challenge you to prove me wrong!

1. Choose the Right Mower For the Job

Choosing the best lawn mower for you and your lawn is super important. Yet many people make big mistakes when the buy a mower.

So here are a few things to consider;

Buy the Right Size of Mower For Your Lawn

Large mowers are heavy and cumbersome to use on small lawns. Use a small mower to cut a large lawn and you’ll be there all day.

Choose the Right Power Source

Push and corded electric mowers are best used on small lawns.

Cordless mowers are good on medium-sized lawns. The power cords on traditional electric mowers are rarely long enough and are a ball ache to use.

Petrol mowers are good for medium to large lawns. Or untidy, bumpy lawns which need a bit of power to blast through.

For very large lawns, you’re best with a ride on mower of which there are different types. But they’re petrol powered.

Rotary vs. Cylinder

Cylinder mowers are best used on formal and ornamental lawns. If your lawn is bumpy or untidy, you’ll soon wreck a cylinder mower. Only consider one if your lawn is flat and you like a close cut.

Rotary mowers are by far the most common. They’re much better suited to lawns which have the odd bump and they have a wider range of cutting heights. They a damn site cheaper too!

Rollers vs. Wheels

You can buy mowers with or without rollers, although most cylinder models have them. That said, some of the cheaper push models only have wheels. Rotary mowers come with or without.

The main reason for choosing a mower with a roller is to create a striped pattern. But having a rear roller also prevents the wheels from digging into your lawn when turning.

2. Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp

Blunt blades tear the grass instead of cutting. This bruises the leaf, stresses the grass and invites disease.

If the tips of your grass look jagged an turn brown after mowing, this is a sign of blunt blades. You should only need to sharpen your blade once or twice a year.

You can learn how to sharpen a lawn mower blade yourself, or take it to your local mower shop.

3. NEVER Remove More Than a Third Off the Grass’ Length

By far the biggest mistake people make is cutting grass too short after letting it grow long.

This is the absolute worst thing you can do.

Here’s why;

Grass stores water, food and nutrients in its leaves. It also uses its leaves to trap the sunlight it needs for photosynthesis and the production of food.

Each time to cut the grass, you remove part of it’s food and water supply. You also reduce its capacity to trap the sunlight it needs to produce more.

When you let the grass grow long and then hack it short, you rob it of its water, energy and nutrients.

An Example…

Let’s say that you’d rather stand on a piece of lego than mow the lawn. As a result, you only cut the grass once every two weeks.

And during the spring the grass grows 10cm tall.

So to avoid having to mow again for another two weeks, you hack the grass down to 25mm.

In doing so you robbed it of 75% of its food and water supply. Not only that, but you only left it with 25% with which to recover.

I’m willing to bet that if someone sucked 75% of the water and energy out of your body you wouldn’t be very well. In fact, you’d die.

Yet many people treat their lawns exactly like this.

You only have cut long grass too short a few times before it becomes weak and diseased. You’ll find the grass becomes sparse and weeds and moss will start to invade soon afterwards.

So how high should you cut your grass?

That depends on how you use your lawn. The key takeaway here is that you should never cut off more than a third of the grasses length at a time.

In the industry, we call it ‘the rule of thirds’.

When cutting long grass, reduce the height by a third each time you mow to bring it down to your preferred length.

4. Mow Often

The frequency with which you mow changes depending on the season.

For example, during spring and autumn when the grass grows quicker, you need to mow more often. In the summer and winter, grass growth slows right down, you can reduce mowing frequency.

There are two things which will dictate how often you cut your grass;

  1. Your preferred grass height
  2. The rule of thirds I talked about a moment ago

The shorter you like your grass to be, the more often you’ll need to mow so you never remove more than a third of the leaf.

To Illustrate…

If you like your grass to be 40mm high, you could let it grow to 60mm before mowing it. As removing a third would bring the height back down to your preferred 40mm. It could take a week to grow that 20mm.

But if you like your grass to be 20mm high, you’d need to mow before the grass reaches 30mm.

This means if you like your grass at 20mm high, you’d have to mow as you would if you like your grass 40mm high.

Manke sense?

5. Change the Direction You Mow In

When you mow often you should change the direction every so often. I like to do it every week.

There are 3 reasons why this is important;

First, it helps to control the growth of weeds and weed grasses. Hitting them from different directions will weaken and prevent them becoming a problem.

Second, if your lawn mower has wheels, mowing in the same direction can create ‘tramlines’. This hapens as the wheels sink in the turf and create tracks.

Third, lawn mowers that have rollers flatten the grass to create a striped effect. If you always mow in the same direction, the grass can become so flat that the mower blades don’t even touch it. As a result, you end up with long, flat grass. By changing direction, you’ll stand the grass up and actually cut it and keep the grass short.

6. Don’t Cut the Grass When It’s Wet

Cutting wet grass is a bad idea, for plenty of reasons.

For a start, it’s frickin’ dangerous – especially if you cut the grass with an electric mower. There are reports of people getting electrocuted and dying while cutting wet grass. In fact, several people die every year.

And electrocution isn’t the only danger. I’ve seen with my own eyes people slip on wet sloping lawns while in charge of a lawn mower. Sometimes it’s a funny accident. Other times it doesn’t end well!

7. Mow at the Best Time of Day

Yes, there is a best time of day to cut the grass.

There are two times in the day;

  • Mid-morning – after the morning dew has dried and before the heat of the day sets in.
  • Early evening – once it starts to cool down and before the next dew develops.

Avoid early morning as the dew makes the grass wet and don’t mow in the middle of the day as it’s often too hot.

8. Mulch Grass Clippings

You can buy mulching mowers which shred up the grass clippings and blow them back into the lawn.

Mulching grass clippings recylcles their water and nutrients back into your lawn. That means you don’t have to water or feed your lawn as often, saving you both time and money.

And it’s perfect if you consider yourself an organic gardener.

That said, if you lawn has weeds in it, mulching will spread them all over.

9. Mow ACROSS Slopes, Not Up and Down Them

By mowing across a slope you won’t have to push your mower uphill. It also prevents your mower from pulling you downhill which can be super dangerous. The last thing you want to do is slip down a slope while in chage of a spinning blade!

10. Make Your Neighbours Jealous With a Professionally Striped Finish

If you want your lawn to look the beans, then create a striped finish.

It’s best to use a mower with a roller to do this but you could even use a brush.

When creating striaght stripes though, make sure they’re straight. Wavy line whichare meant to be straight look sh!t.

When it comes to creating lawn stripes you can get super creative.

And That is How to Mow a Lawn Like a Pro

See, there’s more to cutting grass than you first think.

That said, none of this is difficult.

The two most important tips I want you to take away though are these;

  1. Never remove more than a third off the length of the grass whenever you mow.
  2. Mow often.

If you only stick to these two rules, I GUARANTEE your lawn will improve. It’ll be thicker, greener and so much healthier.

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