Lawn School: Why Mowing in Different Directions is a Must

 Mowing in the same direction will not only damage and bend your pristine patch of turf, but let’s be honest. It’s boring. Mix it up, go diagonal, zig, zag, even walking in circles would be better than sticking with the same old mower pushing route.

Allow me to break down the best approach for tending to your weekly yard-based duties.

Best Direction to Cut

There is no optimal pattern you should be making while mowing. Any which way is better than the same old same old. As long as you are not beating down the grass, causing compaction, or bending the blades you will be alright.

Don’t just take it from me, leading gardening design expert David Morello says that mowing your lawn in the same direction can “make or break your turf.”

How Often Should You Mow?

Yes, timing is everything when it comes to lawn care, fertilizing, aeration, watering schedules. It’s no surprise that when you are changing up the direction of cutting your grass you should also consider the frequency.

Depending on how fast your lawn grows make sure you are cutting it enough that it doesn’t overgrow and not too often as you probably will end up scorching your landscape.

Best Edging Techniques

If you want to put the “scape” in landscaping, then the bane of your existence will be your edges around borders and sidewalks. You will want to walk alongside the edge in the same direction that you are cutting.

Whether you are using a blade, string, or manual cutter ensure that you plan it out. Unfortunately, with detailed work like edging there are no redos. A good rule of thumb, even if it’s not a green one, is to cut your edges every third mow.

How to Mow Stripes in Your Lawn?

As long as you are changing up your mowing direction, why not be the envy of the block and achieve that professional striped lawn look. This aesthetic is not created by the direction you are mowing, rather by a lawn roller.

The illusion of the stripes is caused by the direction in which the blades are leaning towards. The dark stripes are leaning away from the viewer and the light stirpes are towards. We have all stopped and admired a baseball diamond-style striped lawn before, now it’s your turn to be the lawn-star of the neighborhood.

How to Stay Safe

Life is all about balance, so if you lose a toe due to a mower-related incident it’s safe (or not safe) to say you will be knocked off course a little bit. Safety should always be top of mind when you are pushing an engine-powered hyper-spinning metal blade around. Things to consider are:

  • Is the grass wet? Slipping will be a hazard
  • Any inclines or declines that could cause a fall?
  • Any debris like rocks or loose branches that could become a projectile
  • Wear safety glasses to protect from said projectiles
  • Hearing protection is recommended

Does Grass Type Affect Cut Length?

Different strokes for different folks. How low should you cut your grass when it comes to your grass type? If mowing in alternate directions can affect your overall grass growth then you can bet that it is vulnerable to damage based on the grass type you are growing.

According to grass expert, Ashton Ritchie, the difference between a golf green versus an arid Sahara Desert boils down to these optimum heights.

Cold Season Grass

  • Bentgrass: 1/2 to 1 inch
  • Fescue: 2 to 3 inches
  • Kentucky Bluegrass: 2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • Perennial Ryegrass: 2 to 3 inches

Warm Season Grass

  • Bahia: 2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • Bermuda: 1-1/2 to 2 inches
  • Centipede: 1-1/2 to 2 inches
  • St. Augustine: 2 to 3 inches
  • Zoysia: 1-1/2 to 2 inches

To Leave Grass Clippings or Not?

Once you have completed an attention-grabbing pattern you may be hesitant to leave your grass clippings on your masterpiece. As much as you may want to rake those unsightly leftovers up, leave them behind, as the clippings will break down and return vital nutrients to your grass.

Be sure not to let your grass grow too long as too many clippings left behind after an overdue mowing could do more damage than good.

What’s The Right Tool for the Job?

Whether you are rocking a top-of-the-line twin-turbo ride-on mower with a cup holder and Bluetooth, or a good old fashioned push mower; it’s all about the right tool for the job. A ride-on has a lot of benefits like a wider range deck (30-60 inches) which will cover more surface area and get the job done quickly.

Also, it’s hard to beat working smarter not harder from a seated position.

A push or self-propelled mower has its advantages too. It’s easier to navigate around elevations, a small yard, or narrow routes within your landscape.

How Sharp Should Your Blade Be?

If you are taking all the suggestions mentioned above into account, you may as well go a little further and inspect the sharpness of your mower’s blade. For optimal grass health and straight growth, having a sharp blade is key.

The main objective is to keep the blade as sharp as it was when you purchased it. The beginning of the blade slope should be twice as thick as the edge of the blade.

A dull blade can push down and damage the grass rather than provide a clean cut.

On the other hand, if you are mowing in rougher terrain like a wooded area, a dull blade may hold up better and be less susceptible to damage.

How to Maintain a Healthly Lawn Year After Year?

To maintain and keep all your hard work showing up year after year you must feed your grass. A high-quality fertilizer combined with organic matter, and some reseeding where needed will pay off in dividends.

Remember the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, it just could be bent from poor directional mowing techniques.