So you’ve moved into a new place with an established lawn or you’ve just had one installed – now what? In Australia we sometimes take it for granted that everyone has grown up with a lawn and knows how to mow but that’s not always true. If you’re one of those feeling a little lost or a little daunted at the thought of mowing your new lawn, don’t despair, the Perth Gardening team have put together some mowing tips for beginners.
Lawn Mowing – what you need to know
Choosing a lawnmower
Choosing a lawnmower is the first step in taking care of your lawn. If your space is less than 46 square metres, chances are you live in close proximity to your neighbours so you would be advised to get a reel or push mower – they are simple to use and much less noisy.
For a larger lawn, a powered motor – either petrol or electric is advisable. They are faster and with mulching options or grass catches they will save you time on clean up.
An increasingly popular choice is the time saving robotic mower but that takes a bit of the fun out of mowing the lawn yourself.
A ride-on mower is only really helpful and practical if you have at least an acre of lawn.
If you are starting out with a second hand mower there are a few things to check before you start mowing:
- Check for any obstructions in the blades or discharge chute
- Add a little oil to moving parts if they feel tight
- Check the blades. If the blades are not sharp you will end up with a ragged looking lawn. Ask your local hardware store or garden care centre to recommend a local company that sharpens mower blades if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.
Adjusting the wheel height
The height at which your lawn will be cut is usually adjustable by raising and lowering the mower’s wheels.
What to know to start to mow
The advice to remember is – mow often but high. You should aim to mow your lawn about once a week for your couches and Kikuyu or once a fortnight for your Buffalo or similar but you should not take off more than 1/3 of the leaf blade and never ever scalp your lawn.
Warm season grasses are the most common ones around Perth – Kikuyu, Couch, Soft Leaf Buffalo, Queensland Blue, Broad Leaf Carpet and Zoysia. Read here for tips on choosing the right lawn for your garden.
Clear the area
- Walk around the lawn and remove any debris, branches, rocks, dog bones, children’s toys – anything that may be able to get caught in the mower blades or be flung out of the discharge chute. Objects flown out of the chute can reach speeds up to 320 km/hr so present a very real safety hazard.
- Mark out any obstacles such as surface pipes and half buried tree roots and rocks to avoid accidently mowing over them.
The way to mow
The way you should actually mow your lawn is up to you but the basic guidelines are to proceed in a back and forth pattern and not in a round and round or spiral pattern. You need to move the lawnmower at a brisk walking pace since moving too slowly will cause the grass to catch and clog the mower blades.
Our Perth Gardening team recommend using the half-pass method. With every pass you make, overlap the area that you have already mowed by half a width. While this method may seems like more work, it actually takes less time and effort as the lawn mowing movement is smoother, you have less grass to cut on each pass and you will get anything you missed the first time – eliminating the need to go back and trim any rough and shaggy pieces.
After Mowing – Clean up time
If you have not used a grass catcher, or didn’t empty it often enough, your lawn will be left with clumps of grass on it. Use a lawn rake to gather and remove the clippings or if they are small enough, spread the clippings around so they can break down and act as a natural fertiliser for your lawn. Don’t leave the grass clippings on the lawn if you have recently applied a herbicide or pesticide to the lawn.
Clean your mower blades with water, always following the instructions given by the lawnmower manufacturer, and squirt a little oil on to prevent rusting.
While some may find lawn mowing time consuming and tedious, just remember that it can be a great opportunity to focus solely on the task at hand (no possibility for multi-tasking here), spend some time in the fresh air and to revel in the satisfaction of a job well done. Good luck!
If you do find that lawn mowing isn’t for you or you don’t have the time to complete the job on a regular basis, just contact the team at Perth Gardening for a quote on handling it for you.