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Mowing in the Know :: 5 Common Lawn Mowing Mistakes

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Last Spring I visited with John Deere. More specifically, I visited Horicon Works – the home of John Deere’s lawn equipment production since 1963.  It was there that I had the chance to Ride & Drive, review many of the company’s latest offerings. And it is there, in Wisconsin, that Deere has perfected the art of grass cutting.

Last year, I gave you their 5 Keys to Lawn Mower Maintenance; this year, it’s – 5 Common Lawn Mowing Mistakes … You Should Avoid.

I mean – check yourself, and let me know how you do. I know I’m guilty of at least one. Okay maybe, two…ish. Fine! Three. *ahem* Enjoy!

* Cutting too Short

Each time you mow, only remove about 1/3 of the grass blade. Shorter clippings break down more easily, allowing some of the natural nitrogen to return to the soil. If you cut too much at one time, the long clippings can cause stress on the grass, inhibiting healthy growth. Removing only a small amount of the blade each time you mow is a good practice and will give you the best quality turf.

* Mowing Pattern Monotony

We all have our habits, but mowing your lawn in the same pattern all year is one you need to break. Mowing grass in the same direction all the time can mat down the turf and inhibit growth. By varying the pattern in which you mow your grass, you will avoid missing or double mowing areas and reduce wear on the turf. This will encourage a healthier, more beautiful lawn.

* Bagging it

Though bagging clippings is a common practice, mulching is much more beneficial to your lawn. Mulching returns essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, back to the soil. As noted above, removing only a small amount of the grass blade each time you mow produces shorter clippings that can decompose more quickly and discourages the development of fungus diseases. If you do decide to bag, be sure to compost your clippings and reuse on site.

* Ignoring the Roots

A common lawn care mistake is only managing the parts of the lawn you can see. Caring for the grass roots and soil is one of the most important things you can do now to ensure healthy growth year round. Consider taking a soil sample and having a local university extension program or your local landscape supplier provide a soil analysis. The results will give a measure of fertility based on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels, and can help determine the best type of fertilizer to use throughout the year.

* Blunt Mower Blades

A dull mower blade will shred grass blades creating entryways for disease. Sharpen the mower blade to a thickness of about 1/64 of an inch to keep the blade strong and not too razor sharp. Be sure the blade is balanced to warrant a clean cut and avoid damage to the mower.

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More on Mower Maintenance, check out this awesomely cool interactive graphic! Go ahead, hover over. 

See also our article, 5 Ways to get your Mower up and Running for Spring. Moxie Mowing and thanks out to John Deere again for providing such an outstanding list.

For more from Building Moxie on successful lawn care strategies, see our Lawn category. For more on lawn cutting mistakes, you might see this article from This Old House – Six Lawn-Care Mistakes to Nix.

Cheers & Enjoy! ~jb

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