Proper Mowing protects Grass & Equipment

Improper mowing is one of the most common causes of lawn and mower problems.  If grass is cut too short or left too long, it will not produce an aesthetic, health lawn.  Likewise, improper mowing of heavy, thick vegetation can damage lawn equipment.

Grass cutting tips

Don't Scalp Your Lawn

Avoid cutting grass too low because this forces the plant to tap into its food reserves which stresses the grass making it more likely to thin out and be susceptible to heat, cold, drought, pests and disease. 

When grass is severely cut back, the growth of the roots and the plant comes almost to a complete stop until the leaves can recover. This places a huge amount of stress on the plant which is often visible in a yellow to brownish look to the lawn after mowing.

It doesn't look healthy... because it isn't.

Trim Long Overgrown Grass

If for some reason a lawn has become long and overgrown, do not mow it all back at one time. Instead, mow one-third of the grass (or less) and then let it recover for three or four days and then take off another one-third.

By slowly getting the lawn back to its optimum height, the grass will not stress as much.

The most important rule of thumb is the rule of one-third: Never remove more than a third of the grass blade at any one time. 

Types of Grass

Cool season grasses like Blue Grass, Fescue, and Rye should be mowed as high as possible. The best is around 2 to 3 inches  and no higher. If you cut any taller than that, the grass can flop over, and if you cut it too short, the grass is more susceptible to weeds, it dries out faster, and over all does poorly.

Warm season grasses like Bermuda should be cut around a height of 3/4 to 1 inch (1.9 to 2.5 cm) tall, which may require mowing one to three times per week. Mowing at this height will encourage a dense, thriving turf that naturally blocks weeds. If Bermuda is cut any taller than 1 inch (2.5 cm), it will be thinner and straggly looking which isn't what you want. A good healthy lawn of Bermuda should look like a big, green, dense mat.


Protect Equipment

Limit Cutting Depth

Cutting heavy, thick vegetation is bad for the plants and bad for the mower. Even powerful commercial equipment can bog down and stress the hardware when cutting long grass to a low height.  

This applies to push and riding mowers.  With riding mowers, the belts, pulleys and even the engine can be damaged by forcing it through tall vegetation.

To avoid problems, follow the 1/3 rule for grass.  For weeds and lot mowing, make a pass with the deck all the way up.  After that, lower the deck slightly and repeat.  Sometimes 3 or more passes are required.

Riding Mower PTO / Deck

With most riding mowers, it is advisable to engage the PTO with the deck at the highest setting .  Once the PTO is engaged, move the deck to the desired it.

When the deck is low to the ground, the belt sits at an angle between the deck and the engine.  Engaging the PTO in this position can prematutely wear the belt or, in some cases, cause the belt to jump off a pully.

Clean Equipment Regularly

Grass clippings can quickly build up under mower decks of push and riding mowers.  It is not uncommon for an owner to think the engine is locked up when, in fact, the gass has built up and dried under the deck to the point the blade will not turn.

Accumulated clippings beneath the deck can decrease the airflow needed for the mower to properly mulch, bag, or side-discharge. Built-up clippings also hold moisture and corrosive fertilizer against the underside of the deck, causing rust.

Good equipment often comes with a clean out. Clippings can also be removed with a hard-plastic ice scraper, which reduces the risk of scratching that a metal scraper or other tool might cause. Turn the mower on its side with the carburetor and air filter facing upward to keep oil from getting into the fuel system, and then use the scraper.

Afterwards, consider spraying silicone lubricant on the underside of the deck to reduce clipping build-up next time you mow and to make cleanup easier.