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Lawn Mowing I: The Basics

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Yes, it seems that winter has finally come to an end. All the people that live on the same hemisphere as those of us in Stouffville, Ontario are casting aside our winter jackets, our hats, our mittens, our snow shovels, our plows, our winter tires and all that other winter stuff. We are now instead gearing up for yet another couple seasons of sun, the much anticipated spring and of course the widely adored summer. 

With the end of the winter comes with it the beginning of new life. The trees will soon grow leaves, the plants will soon begin to bloom and of course, from underneath a blanket of snow a new blanket of green is born- the grass. And while the snow meant a lot of shovelling, with the grass comes a new but very familiar chore- the mowing.

Many people are divided on this chore. A lot say that it’s a real pain in the butt, forcing them to go out on hot days and push around a big, stinking machine for at least half an hour. There are others however who love the smell of freshly cut grass, who love to see their progress unfold before them, and who love to spend some time outdoors in nature just working on their property. They are in the same camp as one Hank Hill, who once said: “why would anyone do drugs when they could just mow a lawn”. 

Wether or not one belongs to the former or latter group, the fact remains that mowing the lawn is not just integral, it’s mandatory. It not only helps the grass grow, but it also helps keep one’s property look clean. The last thing any gardener, homeowner or landscaper would want is their neighbours complaining about the state of their yard.

And so, this article is going to focus on the how-to of lawn mowing. Yes, for those of us who have been doing it since childhood it may seem pretty self explanatory, but there are many steps that one must undertake before diving into this chore that some people may not know. Without further ado, here is all about lawn mowing, the how tos. 

Setting Up The Mower

For that aforementioned group of us that were forced to do this chore as a kid, the lawn mower tended to be set up for us already. Most of the time, all we had to do was pull a string (probably several painstaking times) and the mower would just start up. We’d push it along the lawn and then we’d be done, free to do whatever non outdoor chore related thing we were supposed to do that day.

However, now that most of us have grown up, the lawn mower may not be as good to go as it once was. There are some things that one has to take into account before they start up their machine and begin the task of mowing the lawn.

For starters, the mower should always be set at the highest setting. One may think this is counter intuitive, as it may mean that the average homeowner, gardener or landscaper is going to be mowing more often. So why not keep it on the lowest setting for less time lawn mowing? Well, the answer is that the grass must be kept at a certain height so that it can develop a stronger root system. These longer roots are going to be able to go deeper into the soil, making so that the grass gets extra water and nutrients. 

Should one cut the grass too short, that grass isn’t going to have any time to focus on developing new root systems. Instead, all of that root developing time is instead going to be focused on regrowing the blades of grass which will just be cut down anyways. 

Plus, in general there are some benefits to having taller grass. For starters, taller grass creates shade for the ground and keeps it cool, helping encourage even more growth, while at the same time preventing weed seeds from sprouting. Also, tall grass tends to be softer, so it should also be a lot easier to walk on.

When should one mow? 

According to lawn mowing experts, the best time to mow a lawn is when the grass is dry. The morning means dew, so that wouldn’t be ideal. The early evening should be good, as mostly grass is dry around then (not to mention if it’s done in the early evening the lawn mower won’t wake up any neighbours). Not to mention the recovery time mowing in the early evening allows for the lawn itself. It makes it so that the lawn has time to recover into the next days afternoon heat. 

So what should one do if it rains? The best thing that any homeowner, landscaper or gardener can do is to wait for the lawn to dry after a rainfall. Mowing a lawn while it is wet isn’t just bad for the lawn (clumps of wet grass right on the lawn may cause brown spots if left there unattended) but it also may be bad for the mower. Those aforementioned clumps of lawn can get caught up in the blades causing damage to the mower, or worse, should one put their hand in the blades to remove those clumps… Well, we won’t go any further. We don’t want to get too graphic. 

And so, this part one of a series of articles about mowing the lawn has come to an end. However, there was a lot learned today. First, we learned about setting up the mower. We learned that the mowers we own at home these days may not be set up ideally, so some adjustments may have to be made. We learned why those adjustments have to be made as well. Next, we learned that the best time to mow was when the lawn was dry, preferably in the early evening. We learned why it was best to mow the lawn when it was dry, and what may happen if one were to mow the lawn when it was wet. 

At the end of the day (also the best time to mow the lawn) lawn mowing may be a pain for some, and a delight for others, but we think we can all at least agree on one thing. The best part of lawn mowing is when it’s done.