The growing season is in full swing here in northwest Florida, and if you’re not currently working with a reputable Pensacola lawn maintenance partner, you’ve probably already started mowing your lawn.
Lawn mowing is one of those seemingly straightforward tasks that homeowners tend to carry out without giving it much thought. And, if you’re fortunate enough to be starting with a lush, healthy lawn, you can probably get away with your mowing method for a while. But there are a number of common mistakes that can be made by homeowners who head out on Saturday afternoon to “get the job done,” but who don’t know all they should about safe and effective mowing.
Here are several of those mistakes and how to best avoid them if you’re handling your own lawn mowing this year:
Mowing early in the morning
It might be the most convenient time, and it’s probably one of the most comfortable (especially on the hottest days of the year) because it’s cooler outside. But mowing first thing in the morning can actually damage your grass, your mower, and possibly even you.
In our humid climate, even if it didn’t rain overnight, the grass is typically going to be coated with dew first thing in the morning. As a result, the grass will be slippery and the soil will be soft. This can result in a few negative outcomes:
- The mower becoming clogged with heavy, wet clippings
- Wheel ruts in the lawn (especially if you’re using a riding mower)
- Uneven cut (due to the wheels sinking in)
- Potential slip-and-fall hazards
For all these reasons, it’s better to hold off on mowing until the grass has had at least a few hours of sunlight so the dew has had a chance to evaporate.
All the same issues apply to mowing too soon after a rainstorm as well.
Mowing late in the evening
While it doesn’t carry the same safety hazards, waiting until very late in the day to mow can place undue stress on your lawn.
Even when it’s done perfectly, mowing the lawn causes a certain level of stress on the grass. Each blade of grass is a plant and you’re cutting off a significant percentage of the plant when you mow. Hours of direct sunlight is very important to the plant’s ability to recover from this damage and recoup its strength as it continues to grow.
In the overnight hours — when nourishing sunlight is not available — is when your grass is most vulnerable to attack from disease, fungi, insects, and other harmful conditions. When you mow very late in the day, you force your lawn to enter those vulnerable hours in a high-stress, low-energy condition, making the battle against invaders that much harder.
While practicality has to come into the mix as well, the optimal time to mow in our area is between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Failing to sharpen the mower blade
Sharpening your lawn mower’s blade should be a routine maintenance activity that’s done before the first mowing and at least two or three times during the growing season. Unfortunately, most homeowners stick to sharpening the blade just once a year, if that.
The reason this simple — but vital — bit of maintenance gets missed so often is that a mower will continue to effectively shorten grass even if the blade is dull. That’s because it’s a piece of steel that’s rotating at such a fast rate, there’s no way your grass will be able stand up to it.
But, if you were to take a close look at your grass after mowing it with a dull blade, you’d notice that the individual leaves aren’t cut, as much as they are torn. When your mower blade is dull, it’s “cutting” your grass by sheer force and causing unnecessary damage to the plant as a result.
With this higher stress on the plant, it takes more energy to repair, leaving less for growth and strengthening, and making it more susceptible to disease and pests. Mowing with a sharp blade offers the cleanest, least damaging cut, and (as an added bonus) will boost the fuel efficiency and speed of your mower as well.
Waiting too long to mow
While it can be difficult to find the time to consistently mow your grass at the optimum height for your grass type, letting too much time pass between mowings can be another avoidable stressor for your lawn.
While optimal mowing heights vary depending on which turfgrass makes up your lawn, the general rule of thumb is that you should never be removing more than one-third of the grass blade each time you mow. If you wait long enough (perhaps just 2-3 extra days during the thick of the growing season,) you may find your mower’s height can’t raise up high enough to limit the cut to just one-third of the existing grass blades.
By mowing down more than one-third of the existing height, the remaining plant may struggle to survive. And, if it’s already battling adverse seasonal conditions, these issues can be compounded.
There are many other potential mistakes that can be made when mowing, but these four cover the majority of the issues we regularly see. If you’re realizing your current DIY arrangements make one or more of these issues unavoidable, contact our leading Pensacola lawn services company, Lawn Master, to discuss how we can help.