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    Tractor Supply Company

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    How to Cut Grass and Use a Lawn Mower

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Knowing how to use a lawn mower the “right” way is one of the key ingredients to growing a great lawn. On the surface, learning how to cut grass seems straightforward, but even small mowing mistakes can lead to a lackluster yard. These steps on how to mow your lawn will keep your grass looking green and lush every time you give it a trim.

    How to cut grass properly

    As you prepare to mow your lawn, follow these simple directions.

    Match the mower to the yard

    A great mow starts with having the right tool for the job

    • Push mowers excel on smaller plots of land (under half an acre) or on property that presents a lot of obstacles, like trees, flower beds, and hardscape. 
    • Riding mowers save time and effort when used on flat open yards larger than half an acre.  
    • Zero-turn mowers are a favorite of those with flat, relatively obstacle-free yards larger than an acre. 

    1. Know how often to mow

    Understanding how to mow your lawn also means knowing how frequently to cut it. Cutting the grass the same day every week might fit best into your timetable, but it isn’t ideal for growing a lush lawn. Rather than sticking to a strict mowing schedule, let factors like grass type, growing conditions and season dictate when you mow. For example, you might need to cut the grass twice a week during the spring, but only every other week during the dog days of summer. 

    2. Determine the best time of day for cutting

    In general, the best time is early in the evening and when it’s dry. Cutting grass in the early evening gives the lawn maximum time to recover before the next afternoon’s heat. Try to avoid cutting in the morning when your grass is wet and dewy, as this often results in an uneven trim, can leave clumps of clippings behind, and might clog your mower. 

    3. Follow the “⅓ rule” 

    In general, the ideal length for cool-season grasses is between 2.5 and 4 inches, while warm-season grasses are best kept between 1 and 3 inches. The “⅓ rule” states you should never cut more than a third of the length of a grass blade—doing so is called “scalping.” A scalped lawn needs to use its energy to regrow its blades rather than strengthen its roots and is more vulnerable to weeds. 

    For best mowing results, leave your lawn at the highest recommended height. Longer grass has a stronger root system and can better extract water and nutrients from the soil. Plus, who doesn’t love the feeling of long, healthy grass under their feet?  

    4. Mix up your mowing patterns

    Mowing your lawn in the same direction every time will put you on the fast track to grim-looking grass. Mixing up your mowing pattern keeps the grass growing straight and tall, and it also keeps the wheels of your mower from creating ruts.

    5. Save your grass clippings 

    There’s no need to deal with the time-consuming task of bagging or raking your clippings. Grass clippings break down quickly and provide nutrients to your lawn, cutting down on your watering and fertilizer needs. Consider this: 1,000 square feet of bluegrass lawn generates about 200 pounds of clippings annually, 75% of which is water.

    Maintain your mower

    Learning how to properly mow a lawn also involves learning how to care for your mowerCleaning the mower after use keeps clippings from interfering with essential airflow and removes moisture and fertilizer that can cause corrosion. To increase your mower’s longevity (and your lawn’s health), follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance, such as oil changes and belt replacement. Aim to sharpen your mower blade after every 20 to 25 hours of use to ensure a cleanly cut lawn. 

    Wear the right clothing

    Knowing how to use a lawn mower goes hand in hand with recognizing what to wear when cutting the grass.

    • Closed-toe shoes with good traction help keep you from slipping and protect your feet against the mower’s blade and debris.
    • Long pants and safety/sunglasses also guard against detritus kicked up by the mower.
    • Avoid loose clothes and dangly jewelry, which can get tangled in a mower. 

    You don’t need a landscaper to get that perfect mow. Learning how to use a mower is simple, and these easy-to-follow best practices will make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood.