It’s not often we get to open a gardening guide with a joke, so today we’re availing ourselves of the opportunity…
Why do policemen make good gardeners?
They maintain law’n order!
Jokes aside, keeping your lawn in good condition is serious business. And there’s a lot more to consider than you might expect when it comes to mowing your lawn. Did you know, for instance, that mowing at certain times of the day can protect your lawn from damage? Or that the best height for your grass varies throughout the year?
If you answered “no” to both or either of those questions, fear not. Here we’ve rounded up the very best lawn cutting advice to put you in good stead for having a healthy and vibrant lawn year round. And, perhaps more importantly, to save you the hassle of getting the mower out when you don’t really need to!
We’ll look first at what to do with your lawn in each season of the year, before moving on to times of day. Each section will include ideal lengths and other info that you need to know.
When to mow your lawn in spring
The middle of March is considered the best time for the year’s first mow. Some people recommend cutting it each week after that, but let’s be honest: not all of us have the time to make that a reality.
If you’re pushed for time, you can get away with cutting the grass when you feel like it needs it. This is probably one of the most important takeaways for this piece: keeping your lawn in order shouldn’t be a source of stress. Having slightly unruly grass isn’t going to do anyone any harm, whereas putting yourself under pressure can.
When to mow your lawn in summer
In summer, things begin to grow more quickly. As a result the recommendation is to mow your lawn more often, up to twice a week! This helps to keep it in prime condition, ensuring bright and healthy colouration, although remember what we said above!
During periods of drought you can drop back down to weekly, as mowing too frequently may be damaging to your lawn.
When to mow your lawn in autumn
Growth slows down again as autumn sets in, meaning you can revert to less frequent mows. If you’ve got the time to do a weekly trim, go back to that. If not, mow as frequently as you can manage, not exceeding once a week.
When to mow your lawn in winter
Most sources advise putting your lawnmower away over winter, as grass growth is likely to slow right down. If we have unseasonably warm weather and you notice the grass growing, you can give it a little trim. Just make sure not to mow too much as you may harm the grass.
How long should your grass be?
A height of around 2.5-4 cm is considered best for unshaded parts of your lawn, with a slightly higher 7.5cm considered suitable for areas in the shade.
Try to avoid cutting your lawn below these heights, as doing so can stifle future growth. With less grass, fledgling weeds also have better access to sunlight, giving them more opportunity to grow and pollute your lawn.
In summer you can increase these heights by a centimetre or so. Doing so will help to keep your lawn healthier.
Another slight increase in autumn is advised.
What time of day is best for mowing the lawn?
This is a hotly contested question, with some people staunchly insisting that mowing must take place at a certain time of day, and others saying it doesn’t matter.
As a rule, avoid mowing grass when it is damp or frosty. Waiting until the grass has dried out reduces the risk of damaging your soil, and leads to a better cut. It also greatly reduces the chance of your mower getting damaged, as damp grass is more liable to form clumps that can wreak havoc on its internal mechanisms.
This essentially rules out very early morning mowing, so if you’re somebody who likes to get up at the crack of dawn to start the day’s errands, hold off on grabbing the mower. As well as protecting your lawn and mower from unnecessary damage, this tip will also make you more popular with your neighbours. No one likes to be woken up by the dulcet tones of a lawnmower at daybreak.
Also keep in mind that mowing too late in the day carries its own risks (this is more complicated than we thought!). If you mow your lawn when the sun is at its highest and hottest, there’s the chance that the freshly mown blades may get scorched. Also, as you can imagine, being given the once over by a mower is quite traumatic for grass. Your lawn needs time to recover between being cut and evening setting in, something else to consider when mowing in the afternoon.
Within these two considerations you do have a small window of suitability. Mowing between about 4 and 6pm should be OK: it’s late enough that the sun’s intensity won’t cause any damage, and in the summer months, it still gives your grass enough time to recuperate before the dark sets in.
This means that those of you who aren’t keen on getting the mower out early are still in luck.
What’s the risk of mowing late in the day?
If you mow late in the day, maybe when the sun has gone down, you risk exposing your freshly mown lawn to attacks from fungal spores. Fungal infection can wreak havoc with your lawn, leading to unsightly patches and requiring a lot of work to put right. It’s best to avoid this risk altogether by mowing at the right time of day.
Hopefully this guide has been useful in figuring out when to get the mower out, and how to cut the lawn when you do. As we said earlier, keeping things in good condition shouldn’t be a source of stress. It’s much better to have a slightly scraggly lawn feel less stressed than the opposite, so if you start feeling your stress levels creeping up, give yourself a rest.
With that in mind, maintaining a healthy lawn may be less work than you expect. Frequent mowing means that each subsequent mow is easier, as you’re not fighting with as much growth. Trimming a well-kempt lawn is a very different job from tackling an overgrown mess.
Also remember that you can commission help if you need it. Paying young people to mow your lawn is a stereotype for a reason: this is a fairly easy job that makes a great way for a child (yours, a friend’s, a neighbour’s) to earn a few extra pounds, while saving you the hassle of doing it yourself.
However and whenever you decide to mow your lawn, make sure to stop and take a second to look at your handiwork. A healthy lawn is a pleasure to behold, and your garden should be a place where such pleasures are appreciated.