Mowing Your Lawn the Correct Way


Grasses are like most plants – if you clip off the growing points (for grass, it’s in the crown,¬†where the new leaves develop), the plants branch out and become denser, which in this case, turns thousands of individual grass plants into a tightly woven turf or a lawn. If you didn’t mow at all, your yard would look more like a prairie than a lawn. But the mere act of mowing isn’t what makes a lawn look good. Mowing height and mowing frequency determine how healthy and attractive your lawn looks. After all, cutting a lawn is stressful for the grass.

  • Know the equipment.

Read the owner’s manual. Become familiar with all the safety features and don’t disconnect any of them. Keep all nuts and bolts properly tightened. Never pull a walking mower.

  • Check the lawn before mowing and wear proper clothing.Pick up any rocks or debris. Heavy shoes and long pants provide the best protection from flying debris. If you’re using a reel mower, don’t wear loose clothing.
  • Protect your hearing.Doing yard work can get pretty noisy. In addition to the lawn mower, high-decibel noise comes from trimmers, edgers, and blowers. Use earplugs or earmuff-type hearing protection.
  • Keep pets and children away from the lawn as you mow.Don’t let children operate a lawn mower unless they’re strong enough, responsible, and understand all the operating and safety features. Even then, supervise them. Never give a young child a ride on a ride-on mower. Sudden stops, flying objects, or an excited child can spell disaster.
  • Be careful when fueling.

Stop the mower and let the engine cool for 10 minutes before fueling. Never fill the tank with the mower on the lawn. Avoid spills by using a gas can with an adequate pouring spout. Clean up spills immediately and put the used rags in a covered metal can. (Gasoline-soaked rags are a fire hazard.)

  • Turn off the mower.Never leave the mower running unattended, or work on a motor that is running. Turn off the power when you cross nongrass areas.
  • Be careful on hills.Steep slopes are always dangerous because a mower can flip over or go out of control. Plant a ground cover other than turf in these areas. On gentle slopes, mow across the slope, not up and down. Use a walk-behind mower.

Lawn mowers – a tree’s worst enemy

Repeatedly banging a mower against a tree trunk or whipping it senseless with a weed whip each week can seriously damage the bark and the sensitive tissues underneath. The damage can restrict the growth of young trees to the point where the base of the trunk is so weak and girdled that the tree just snaps off in the slightest wind.

To protect the tree, leave a ring of grassless soil at least 3 feet wide around the trunk. Put in a nice brick or stone edging around the outside. Better yet, cover the open soil with a thick layer (3 to 6 inches deep) of organic mulch, such as compost or bark. (Keep the mulch a few inches away from the base of the tree.)

You can also go to a garden center to buy trunk protectors, plastic sleeves that encircle the trunk, if you have to have the grass right up against the tree.

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