Mowing a lawn sounds easy, right. Start the mower. Push it over the lawn. True, but if you want a healthier, better looking lawn, there’s a lot more to it.
The first thing to remember is to mow often enough that you never remove more than one-third of the lawns height. Apart from mowing safely, one of the most important aspects of mowing is to get the height of cut right. In Perth people tend to mow really short compared to the rest of the country. They have free draining soils, and watering systems, so they can get away with it. In the east, most people don’t install a watering system, so making sure that the lawn is drought tolerant is our main tip.
That can be achieved by simply raising the mower height. A buffalo or Zoysia lawn mown 3 notches from the bottom is going to need more water than one mown on notch 5. Notch 5 or 6 is recommended for Buffalo or Zoysia turf. Couch and Kikuyu can be mown on a lower notch such as notch 4 or 5, but they can also work at the higher notches. Getting the exact notch setting can be difficult as each lawn is a little different, so start with these settings and adjust up or down accordingly. Your lawn may have a lot of thatch, so a higher setting maybe needed.
Shade is one area where it pays to mow higher. Notch 6 or 7 should be the minimum. The extra leaf allows a lawn to tolerate lower light conditions. There are times however that you do want to drop the height of the mower much lower. Each Spring is a good time to de-thatch your lawn, and your lawn mower is a perfect tool for the job. Drop the mower to Notch 2 for Buffalo and Zoysia, and 1 or 2 for Couch, and Kikuyu. Never do this to a fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Rye grass lawns. When scalping make sure you collect all the clippings, and then afterwards, fertilise with a good slow release fertiliser.
Thatch build up is easy to recognize, because your lawn starts to feel like a sponge. After scalping, your lawn will look untidy for 2 to 3 weeks, but new shoots will pop up everywhere, and when you resume your taller mowing heights, you will not only notice the mower easier to push, but the real benefit will be that all those dead layers of grass have been removed, and your lawn will behave like a young fresh lawn again. Using the mulching part of your mower will help improve your lawns health with the clippings being mulched into tiny pieces that will help feed you lawn with nutrients.
Mulch mowing makes lawn care easier, with less time spent emptying the catcher and trying to dispose of the clippings. But remember if the lawn is wet, or if the lawn is too long, don’t mulch mow, use the catcher. Try to avoid mowing when the grass is wet, instead try to wait for it to dry. But as we know, that is often easier said than done. If you have to mow when wet, catch the clippings, and empty the catcher more often, making sure you clean the shoot after each time. Make sure your blades are sharp because sharp blades cut wet grass much better.
One good tip is to mow in passes less than half the width of the mower to minimise clumping and keep the blades turning fast and at the same time mow taller than you normally would. Whether it’s wet or dry, never leave clumps of grass sitting on your lawn. Either rake them up, pick them up, or mow over them again collecting them in your catcher.