Updated: Feb 16
There's a saying we don't hear much anymore that declares "A man's home is his Castle." In America I suppose that saying pronounces a piece of our independence, suggesting that each of us is king or queen in our own home. But something else comes along with that castle and that is the front lawn. You see, in many other parts of the world, neighborhood homes don't have lawns. Lawns are reserved for public meeting grounds, parks and well, castles.
So with your home and freedom in America comes a lawn. Many of us grew up taking care of that lawn. I, myself, started cutting my parents' lawn when I was twelve. Had to hold halfway down the mower handle to get the thing to move. After a few thousand trips across the green expanse I've learned a few things. If your new to lawns, here are a few of the basics to take care of your Great American Lawn.
1) Maintain a consistent maintenance program.
That green carpet spreading out around your house is designed to grow. It is made up of thousands of grass plants, each reaching for the sky. As it grows the grass plants need to be trimmed down. For this you obviously need a lawn mower; push or ride on depends on the size of your yard. Lawns should be trimmed to a height of 3-3 1/2" to maintain a healthy neat lawn. Check your mower setting to control the height of the cut. Cutting, or "lawn mowing", should be done once a week from about April to November. If you let it go more than a week it becomes a lot harder to cut and takes a greater toll on your equipment.
2) Follow a pattern for a professional look.
The standard procedure for mowing is to guide the mower around the perimeter of the lawn two or three times blowing the clippings towards the middle of the lawn. (More on clippings latter.) Once the perimeter is cut, go back and forth across the lawn in straight lines. At the end of one line turn around and cut the grass adjacent to the line you just cut. You should overlap the previous row slightly to make sure you don't miss any grass between the rows. Continue back and forth until you've covered the entire lawn. You're well on your way! Nice job.
3) Tend to the details.
As you will see, there are things in the lawn to which you can't get the mower close enough in order to cut the grass near them (trees, mailboxes, light poles, etc). To trim the grass near these obstacles you will need a string trimmer. Use it carefully (it will cut more than grass) to finish getting the rest of the tall grass down.
4) Let your lawn help you.
The parts of the grass plants that are cut off are called clippings. Some mowers called mulching mowers grind these up, some shoot them out the side of the mower. If the clippings are clumped up I suggest scattering them with a rake. It's better for the lawn if you leave the clippings instead of picking them up and throwing them away. In the long run they add needed nutrients back into your lawn.
Regular mowing will keep your neighbors or HOA from sending you a note to take care of your lawn. There is a lot more to lawn care. But mowing has another great benefit; when you're done you can be proud of the work you've accomplished and enjoy your Great American Lawn, at least for another week.
Well, these are the very basics of lawn mowing. Stay tuned for more great information on equipment, fertilization, weed control, and much more!