In most suburban neighborhoods, your front lawn can act symbolically. The way your lawn appears can be a factor in how your neighbors think about you, and perhaps even your attention to detail and status in general. This may or may not sound strange (it should probably not sound strange), but mowing your lawn correctly has quite a bit to do with the overall look and fine art of mowing your lawn.
Do not “scalp” your grass.
First of all, yes, there is in a fact a point at which you can cut your grass too short. Think about this: do you know someone who “has to” get a haircut very often? It’s almost comparable to a horrible eating disorder: “MY HAIR IS TOO LONG!” That is what over-mowed lawns look like. Cutting your grass too short not only screams, “I MIGHT HAVE OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER!” It is also bad for your overall lawn health. Mowing your lawn too short can be referred to as “scalping” by some. Do not compare your lawn to a golf course. That is a golf course, not a lawn. If you desire a golf course in place of a front lawn, either COMMIT to it (“why yes, my front lawn is a golf course!”), and prepare to be shunned, or you might as well use AstroTurf. Additionally, you may think that you won’t need to mow your lawn as frequently, but you are really just “scalping” it on a regular basis. Think of mowing your lawn as “beheading” each individual blade of grass. If this is a regular practice for you, your new name is “King Henry the 8th.” You think it would be great to have a pretty lawn (in Henry’s case, a son), but it is literally your fault that you do not have one (King Henry could not provide Y chromosomes, necessary for a male heir). By cutting shorter, you are also cutting nutrients, such as chlorophyll, which are essential to aesthetically pleasing blades of grass. ALSO mowing your lawn too short exposes the soil in your lawn to more sun and heat (which equals DRY).
Okay, but don’t get lazy…You still need to mow your lawn.
So, if you are a mowing procrastinator and one day you feel INSPIRED and mow the heck out of your lawn? Expect a clogged mower and/or lovely clumps of grass clippings. If you mow on the lazy side, you are stressing your grass out. Highly related to a mowing procrastinator is a human who owns a mower with dull blades. Granted, if you or someone you know is very good about keeping their mower blades sharp…maybe send the police to their house? But I digress, dull blades equal dull cuts. Frayed, ragged grass is very noticeable. So the lesson here is, keep your blades sharp, but you don’t have to go crazy. A good rule to keeping your lawn artistic and lush, is to sharpen the blades two to three times a season. Click here
Think about these artful adjustments instead
When you “accidentally” let your lawn grow a little too long: reduce the height of the blades on your mower by one-third. You also will need to use this gentler setting two times every few days. Do not try to “get the whole thing done” in one afternoon. Remember, grass is a live plant, and will react to sudden extreme changes. Raking grass clippings is also something that can and should be limited. You should not need to rake grass clippings from the perimeter of your lawn, because you are an excellent strategist. Your strategy (if it wasn’t before, it is now) is to “get the grass clippings in the middle.” ALWAYS shoot your clippings inward. This should not be a “light-bulb moment.” Please do not cut your grass when it is wet. Your grass will be slightly bent over due to the weight of the moisture, making this an unideal if not stupid time to mow your lawn. Do you bend over at the waist to receive a haircut? If so, tell an adult. Unfortunately, if there is a drought, or your grass is brittle and brown, you should not mow your lawn, EVEN if you feel an impulse to “just get rid of the weeds.” If you’ve seen a dying indoor plant (a morbid thought), you may have noticed that a few of the branches of leaves (or whatever kind of indoor plant you are thinking of) are DEFINITELY brown, and there is ABSOLUTELY no way that part of the plant is going to come back (unless you treat it CAREFULLY)? This applies to brittle and dry grass as well. If you’re dealing with an indoor plant, and you actually would like to help the dry part of the plant grow again, the dry “injured” part of the plant needs to be handled DELICATELY. This is basically the same with your lawn. When there is a drought, or your sprinklers are on the fritz, or you’ve gone on vacation, or lawn has mysteriously turned slightly brown and the grass is brittle; you are dealing with injured grass. Similarly, when human skin becomes darker due to sun exposure, the “slight tan” to “severe burn” that can become evident, is actually a bodily reaction that should tell you to get out of the sun (If that surprises you, the free, peer-reviewed academic literature available on the internet and in the library will back me up. I promise).
Finally, do you have to awkwardly stop and turn a lot when you mow your lawn? If so, you have probably noticed that those “stop and turn” points are never as even as the rest or your lawn. Think about treating these unavoidable turns more gently. You may even want to create an area in your lawn with a mulched flower bed. This bed could be used for a tree, or really anything that you like; however, make sure to make the bed that you mulch and plant in relatively wide, with a natural curvature that COMPLIMENTS your mower (or mowers in general). All of these things I have mentioned here are incredibly important when addressing the fine art of mowing the lawn.