Congratulations! You’ve just bought your first home and are finding yourself with a lawn to care for. If you’ve never mowed before, it’s not complicated — provided you have a good working knowledge of the basics.

  • The mower. The size of the mower depends on the size of your yard. If you have a small yard, go with a battery or gas-powered mower. For larger yards, you may want to consider a riding mower. Many mowers now come self-propelled, making mowing much easier. Before you begin mowing be sure you have the correct amount of oil and gas and that the spark plug is seated firmly in place.
  • When to mow. Mow in the morning once the grass is dry or late in the day. Try to avoid mowing when grass is wet. Doing so won’t harm your lawn but you won’t get the best results. If you have to mow when the grass is wet, be sure to use either a bag to collect clippings or remove any clumps of wet grass that could eventually cause browning and bald spots. Use a silicone or oil-based spray on the bottom of your mower to prevent any wet grass from accumulating around the blade.
  • How often to mow. You may need to mow once each week during the wet season. Every other week is fine when the weather turns dry.
  • Blade height. Avoid cutting your grass too short. Three to three and a half inches is best. Cutting more than a third of the height can promote weeds and diseases. When grass is cut too short, it’s not able to build a strong root system. Taller grass is also more drought resistant. Be sure to leave your grass a bit taller at final cutting of the season to better insulate the root system during the winter.
  • Shade cutting. Leave the grass longer when cutting the lawn in a shaded area of your yard. Taller grass means more surface area making the grass better able to catch much needed sunlight.
  • Mower’s blade. Keep your mower’s blade sharp to get a clean cut. A dull blade can damage your grass and make it necessary to go over the lawn multiple times, wasting gas and your valuable time.
  • Edging. Avoiding having to edge your lawn separately after mowing by installing a border around your lawn, walkways, and driveway using brick, pavers, or stones. Doing so lets you roll the outer wheel of your mower along the edge for cleaner and more convenient cutting. Gas and electric edgers are available, as well as gas trimmers that come with an edging attachment.
  • Mulching. Grass clippings make for great fertilizer. Mulching your grass clippings as you mow saves time and money and is good for the environment. If you don’t have a mulching mower, mulching blades are available to purchase. If you bag clippings, use them for compost. Be sure to mulch during the dry season as grass clippings help to keep in precious moisture.
  • Safety. It is advisable when mowing to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris. If you’re using a gas-powered mower you’ll want to protect your ears as well from engine noise. When mowing on a slope cut across, not up and down. Consider replacing grass in a sloping area with a low maintenance ground cover.
  • Go gas-free. Lawn mower engines are notorious for releasing a great deal of carbon monoxide into the air. Electric battery-powered mowers have improved greatly over the years. If you go electric, find a mower with a battery you can recharge and always keep a spare on hand.
  • Clean up. Remove any grass from the bottom of your mower once you’ve completed mowing. Check the blade to see if it needs sharpening as well as the oil and gas. Doing so will save you time when your lawn needs mowing again. At the end of the season drain the oil and remaining gas and remove the spark plug.
  • Watering. Water your lawn once or twice per week. Watering in the evening lets your lawn soak overnight and avoids evaporation. Morning can also be a good time to water. Be sure to soak grass thoroughly to nourish the roots.

The Bottom Line

A well cared for lawn gives your home real curb appeal. By following these simple instructions you can be sure your lawn will thrive.