Outdoor Living

Mowing tips that will keep your lawn looking good all year

(ARA) - Every homeowner dreams of that perfect lawn, but the fact is maintaining a green and lush carpet of grass takes some work. One of the easiest ways to keep up the appearance of your lawn is to mow it in a way that promotes optimal lawn health.

In fact, mowing frequently is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your lawn according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Ideally, you should own a mower that allows you to mow frequently and efficiently.

Mowing tips that will keep your lawn looking good all yearIf you have a smaller yard, a walking mower may do the trick, especially if you can get the job done in a half hour or less. If you measure your lawn in acres, as opposed to square feet, a riding mower is probably more appropriate. But most people have a lawn that fits somewhere in between, in which case, there's another option.

Cross mowers are smaller riding mowers that are designed for yards up to one acre. With a compact design, these mowers offer increased maneuverability, as well as easy storage. Among the companies offering cross mowers is Weed Eater, which features a SmartCut model.

Whether now is the time to rightsize your mower or not, here are some other mowing tips to keep your lawn looking good all year:

- Keep your blade sharp. A dull blade can damage your grass, hampering healthy and even growth. Mower blades should typically be sharpened once at the beginning of spring and once in the summer. Examining your grass after you mow can help determine whether your blade is producing a clean and even cut.

- Spread clippings evenly throughout your yard. Grass clippings are your best form of fertilizer - and they're free. Throughout the year, your clippings will provide the equivalent of one or two applications of fertilizer, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

If your mower discharges clippings to the side, mow the outer edge so clippings are thrown toward the middle of your yard, and as you move toward the center, change your direction so they are thrown outward. Sweeping any clippings that ended up on your driveway or sidewalks back onto the lawn both promotes the health of your lawn and prevents them from entering local waterways - grass clippings can contribute to toxic levels of phosphorus in lakes and rivers.

- Don't mow in the same direction every time. Mowing in different directions will prevent your grass from becoming matted down and instead keep it growing upward, where it can receive the most sunlight.

- Cut your grass between 2 and 3 inches. Keeping it longer than 2 inches can help prevent weeds from receiving the necessary sunlight to take hold. It also can prevent scorching during warm and dry weather. For optimal growth and regeneration, never remove more than one third of your lawn's length during one mowing session.

- Mow only when your grass is dry. Mowing when your yard is wet can cause your mower to leave tracks. It can also cause your discarded clippings to clump together, providing an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that can cause disease in your grass.

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