Buying your first garden-attached home is the most comfortable bit, and only the first step in a long process. Maintaining and keeping your lawn healthy, on the other hand, is much more cumbersome. Done wrong, it could cause you many headaches and much expense in up-keep.
If you’re planning to take up the task on your own, mowing your new lawn may seem daunting and imposing. From using a corded mower to gas-fuelled, to the various types of blades and cleaning the edges, there are quite a few things to take care of. If you’ve not already got green thumbs, this simple guide will help you make what can be a very confusing process smooth and hassle-free.
What kind of lawnmower should you buy?
There are hundreds of makes and types of lawn mowers out there for you to choose from. However, you need to carefully choose the model best suited for your patch of green. We’ll go over four main factors below – the size of your lawn, how you want your lawnmower to be powered, kinds of blades, and how much you’re willing to pay for a new lawnmower.
Size of your lawn
Of all the factors to keep in mind while picking your lawnmower, the size of your lawn should be your prime determinant. If you’ve got a small lawn, then a hand-pushed or the electric mower would be your go-to choice. A hand pushed mower is the most straightforward option that exists. Without an engine or motor of any kind, you mostly have to push the machine from behind as you go along. Electric mowers are also an option if you’ve got a medium-sized lawn, and come in two types – corded mowers and cordless mowers.
More significant lawn owners usually pick gas-fuelled machines or cordless electric machines, as electrical cords may get in your way as you work through your green. Self-propelled lawn mowers are also great for lawns at a slope, which doesn’t need much pushing or manual effort. All you have to do is nudge it in the right direction. Self-propelled mowers give the best finish, with even and uniform trimming.
Types of Blades
You also have to take into consideration the kind of blade that’s best suited for your use. This will impact not only performance but also the effort and time you put into maintenance. A reel mower, also called a ‘cylinder’ mower, has open blades at the front, which work like a pair of scissors. It is best suited for short grass as it is inefficient for lengthy grass varieties. The standard hand-push mowers are of this kind. Rotary mowers have one blade rotating at very high speed below the body of the machine. It cuts grass with high effectiveness at the rate at which it turns, thus, best suited for taller grasses. Hover mowers are similar to these kinds of models.
Generally, standard use lawnmowers are inexpensive. Reel lawn mowers are the cheapest kind. Gas-powered, electric cordless and corded lawn mowers are also low-cost options bought widely. Self-propelled lawnmowers, though the best performing, are much more costly.
How do I mow my lawn?
You’ll have first to clear your lawn of obstacles in your way – this means picking up twigs, tree branches, pebbles, and rocks with rakes or by hand. The next thing to do is to make sure your mower is at a height at which you want your grass to be after mowing. To do this, you’ll need to adjust the wheels of the mower. You should be able to do this with standard garage tools, like a lever. The height to grass length ratio will also, however, depend on the make of your mower. Make sure to clean the edges before you start and that you have sharp blades.
To begin, you’ll have to learn how to operate your mower. An electric mower is not too hard to figure out. You’ll just have to insert your key or press a button, depending on your machine. Gas-powered mowers, on the other hand, are harder to operate. At the outset, you need to make sure that you have enough gas in the tank and that the spark plug works well. Then, you’ll need to maneuver the handle, engine lever, and started string. As you can imagine, this may take several tries before the motor starts running.
Pattern of mowing
When you start the process, it is advisable to do the simple one-way up and down pattern, moving across your lawn in straight lines. However, mowing in the same pattern over and over again also leads to less healthy grass and compresses the soil. The grass will also start growing at an odd angle and only in a particular direction. The weight of your mower further adds to the pressure.
On your first attempt, take it easy and take it slow – move across your lawn carefully and slowly to understand how your mower works and to prevent against sudden slips and accidents if you fail to see obstacles in your path, hidden among the blades of grass. If your lawn is unkempt before your first trim, or if you’ve let your grass grow tall over a long break from mowing, you should consider going over it twice, and not in one taxing cut.
Frequency of mowing
How often you mow your lawn depends on the variety of your grass. Different kinds of climatic conditions will affect how fast your grass grows. For example, grass grows longer in colder weather, and not very well in warmer regions. Thus, you should consider cutting it short during winter times. Meanwhile, you can consider letting the grass grow longer if it sits in s patch of shade, as this allows for better and healthier growth.
If you fertilize and water lawn frequently, you’ll find that you’ll also have to mow your lawn just as often. Take care, however, not to cut too short and close to the ground. This is called ‘scalping’ and damages your grass.
Growing your lawn is a battle against weeds. If you trim your lawn well, it’ll grow thick and keep the weeds out. Otherwise, weeds will overrun your garden space. Ensure that you never cut below a third of your grass length. Cutting below this length makes your lawn susceptible to infection and exposes the soil to sunlight, which aids in weed growth. Cutting your grass too short too often also prevents grassroots from growing strong and healthy.
As you mow your way through your lawn, your machine will either spit the trimmings to the side, break it up into small chunks, or push it into an attached bag, if your mower design provides for it.
After you’re done mowing, the last and perhaps the most tiring part is cleaning up if your machine doesn’t do it for you on its own. You’ll have to push the freshly cut grass into a bag. Be sure also to clean the edges of your blades of grass too! If you’re up to it, you could use your grass trimmings as a sort of make-shift fertilizer for your garden. Called ‘mulching,’ this process helps your lawn lush and healthy over time.
How do I take care of my new mower?
The best thing you can do is to ensure your blades are always sharp. If your blades get blunt, then your machine is, essentially, inefficient- you’ll find it harder and harder to cut grass. It is easy to figure out when your blades are dull. If you see your grass tips taking on an ugly brown tinge, it means your blades aren’t sharp enough. Torn blades of grass are all the more vulnerable to disease.
Cylinder mowers are a bit more demanding than other kinds when it comes to maintenance. Both electric cordless and electric corded mowers are low-maintenance, apart from making sure your battery has a good-enough life span. Self-propelled lawn mowers need a bit more maintenance, as parts like the belt often need repair.
Gas-powered machines also need frequent filter changes, spark plug replacements, and gas input. Reel lawnmowers, though most common and cheap, require the most maintenance – you need to make sure your blades are always sharp, and you need to clean the edges continually. Otherwise, your machine is practically useless.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too!
With sharp rotating blades, it’s always essential to prevent injuries. Don’t use your bare hands to clean the blades. Instead, use sticks or other sturdy and long blunt objects to swipe the debris off. Also, read and follow the instruction manual that comes with your machine, and religiously check if the safety guards and switches are on. Beware of your engine in a gas or electric machine growing warm – it’s common to see burn injuries from lawnmowers. Protective gear is always a must- covered shoes, gloves, and long trousers make for safe mowing. Further, proper lawn mower maintenance is crucial to safety.
When going up angled surfaces, you always want to mow horizontally across the plane, as opposed to up and down the surface. This is to prevent messy accidents if you slip backward, and the mower tilts towards you. Similarly, always mow forward, never backward. If your grass is slippery after a fresh spell of rain, you should wait till your lawn is dry. Make sure you always leave unattended lawnmowers switched off, with no residual energy pent up in the body of the machine. Wet grass also traps in the blades easier, making the cutting uneven.
There you have it! Hopefully, you’re now more confident about the process. We hope this guide helped make your decision easier and briefed you on the best and essential practices as you being your lawn-mowing endeavors.
James has been working with lot’s of power tool brands like Husqvarna, Makita and WORX for over 12 years. With his passion for power tools and gardening he is helping both consumers and businesses with his expertise. He now runs the editorial team at HomeGearExpert and loves to support local charities in his spare time.