How to Mow Your Lawn Like a Pro

A lawnmower cutting grass.

The sound of a mower, the smell of fresh cut grass—it's that time of year again! Time to get your lawn looking green and lush, which also means it's time to get out your lawn mower.

Taking the time to mow your lawn is an important part of your lawn maintenance routine, but how you actually do it will play a huge role in the quality and appearance. If you want to keep your lawn healthy and looking good, make sure you mow properly. To mow your lawn like a pro, consider these few tips.

Sharpen Blades

A lawn mower blade being sharpened.

The first step to mowing your lawn like a pro is to keep the mower blades sharp. If your blades are dull, they will tear the grass leaves. The frayed edges will turn brown and also create places for disease-causing organisms to enter. Additionally, the torn leaves will increase water loss, meaning you will have to water your lawn more than usual for it to look healthy and lush. Making sure your blades are sharp will definitely help prevent all this, while also giving your lawn that crisp, clean, manicured look.

Cut High

Once you're sure your lawn mower blades are sharp, set them to keep your grass about two to four inches tall, which depends on the grass type. If you cut your grass too short, the roots don't get a chance to grow deep or multiply. It will get more weeds, and is at a higher risk of disease and insect attacks. Shorter grass also needs to be watered more often and fertilized more. But if you keep your grass taller, you'll allow it the chance to grow deep, drought-tolerant roots. The tall grass also provides shade to keep itself cool, reduces evaporation, and lowers the chance of weed seeds taking root.

Cut Often

Of course, if you cut high, you'll need to cut often, but that's a good thing, too. In the spring, when the grass is just starting to grow, you might have to mow your lawn every three to four days. However, once the growth is slowed later in the season, you can get away with only mowing every seven to 10 days.

Cut Early

A lawn mower cutting grass with sun shining on it.

Ever wake up to the sound of lawn mowers? That's probably because your neighbors understand the importance of mowing their lawns earlier in the day. (But not too early because you shouldn't cut wet grass.) The perfect time of day is later in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the sun is at its hottest point. When the sun is shining down on your lawn after you just cut it, you leave it open to stress and drying out.

Use Medium Speed

High mower speeds should only be used for transporting to the area that is going to be mowed. For best results and for safety reasons, you should only use the lawn mower on the medium setting. This is especially true in wide open spaces, since it helps you keep control of the machine. If you're going to be trimming borders, put it on a lower speed. It's also a good idea to use a low speed when turning corners.

Mow in Different Directions

A lawn mowed with stripes of pattern.

Another great tip for mowing your lawn like a pro is to occasionally alternate your mowing direction. Mowing in different directions will help keep your grass from being pushed to one side and will create an even surface. If your grass is pushed to one side, it's more susceptible to sun damage.

Use Clippings

Even though a lot of people choose to collect their clippings, the best thing to do is to let them fall on your lawn. This is actually called “grasscycling.” Your grass clippings will decompose rather quickly and are a great source of nutrients for your lawn because they are a natural form of nitrogen. Some lawn mowers actually mulch clippings by cutting them into small pieces, which helps the clippings decompose even faster, releasing even more of their nutrients.

Although grass clippings are actually great for your grass, they are not so great for rivers and lakes because of fertilizer residue. To help reduce water pollution from lawn fertilizers, make sure your grass clippings stay on the lawn and out of the streets, driveways, and sidewalks where they can easily make their way into storm drains.