So you’ve moved into a new place with an established lawn or you’ve just had one installed – now what? In South East Queensland we sometimes take it for granted that everyone has grown up with a lawn and knows how to mow but that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re one of those feeling a little lost and maybe even a little daunted at the thought of mowing your new lawn, never fear, the Daleys Turf team have put together some mowing tips for beginners.
Get a lawnmower
Choosing a lawnmower is the first step in taking care of your lawn. If your space is less than 46 square metres chances are you live in close proximity to your neighbours so you would be advised to get a reel or push mower – they are simple to use and less noisy.
For a larger lawn, a powered motor – either petrol or electric is advisable. They are faster and with mulching options or grass catches they will save you time on clean up.
An increasingly popular choice is the time saving robotic mower – more information can be found here.
A ride-on mower is only really helpful and practical if you have at least an acre of lawn.
If you are starting out with a second hand mower there are a few things to check before you get stuck into mowing:
- Check for any obstructions in the blades or discharge chute
- Add a little oil to moving parts if they feel tight
- Check the blades. If the blades are not sharp you will end up with a ragged looking lawn. Ask your local hardware store or garden care centre to recommend a local company that sharpens mower blades if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.
Adjusting the wheel height
The height at which your lawn will be cut is usually adjustable by raising and lowering the mower’s wheels.
As a general guide:
Warm season grasses – Kikuyu, Couch, Soft Leaf Buffalo, Queensland Blue, Broad Leaf Carpet and Zoysia – set the wheel height at 1.25 cms – 2.5 cms (1/2 – 1 inch) or 5cms (2 inches) at most.
Cool season grasses – Bluegrass and Fescue – set the wheel height at 7.5cms – 8.75 cms (3-3.5 inches).
Clear the lawn
Walk around the lawn and remove any debris, branches, rocks, dog bones, children’s toys – anything that may be able to get caught in the mower blades or be flung out of the discharge chute. Objects flown out of the chute can reach speeds up to 320 km/p/hr so present a very real safety hazard.
Mark out any obstacles such as surface pipes and half buried tree roots and rocks to avoid accidently mowing over them.
The way you should actually mow your lawn is up to you but the basic guidelines are to proceed in a back and forth pattern and not in a round and round or spiral pattern. You need to move the lawnmower at a brisk walking pace since moving too slowly will cause the grass to catch and clog the mower blades.
The Daleys Turf team recommend using the half-pass method. With every pass you make, overlap the area that you have already mowed by half a width. While this method may seems like more work, it actually takes less time and effort as the lawn mowing movement is smoother, you have less grass to cut on each pass and you will get anything you missed the first time – eliminating the need to go back and trim any rough and shaggy pieces.
If you have not used a grass catcher (or didn’t empty it often enough) your lawn will be left with clumps of grass on it. Use a lawn rake to gather and remove the clippings
Clean your mower blades with water (always follow instructions given by the lawnmower manufacturer) and squirt a little oil to prevent rusting.
The advice to remember is – mow often but high. You should aim to mow your lawn about once a week or once a fortnight but you should not take off more than 1/3 of the leaf blade and never ever scalp your lawn.
For safety tips to follow when mowing, please read more here before you start out for the first time. While some may find the task of mowing the lawn time consuming and tedious just remember than it can be a great opportunity to focus solely on the task at hand (no possibility for multi-tasking here), spend some time in the fresh air and to revel in the satisfaction of a job well done.