Mow like a pro!
Most of the space in any suburban garden is taken up by a lawn – a dense mat of little plants all screaming for almost constant attention now that summer is here and lawn mowing season is back in full swing.
Here are some good tips on how to mow to create a perfect lawn:
- To lessen frustration and make your job easier, invest in the right type of mower for your lawn mowing. There are different types of machines suitable to different types of lawns and garden topography, developed to give you comfort and not to punish you. Also check out power options, which could be electrical, battery-operated or petrol driven.
- Blunt lawn mower blades rip, shred and tear grass blades, causing damage. They need to be sharpened at least three times per year. If you can’t do this properly yourself, take the blade (or the whole mower) to a lawn mower service centre to get done.
- Trimmers, used to neaten edges, should never be used to quickly give the actual lawn a once over – they will gouge, cause ruts and scalp the grass as you will have little control over the cutting height. They are only an option if you have to cut steep banks.
- Lawn mowing should happen regularly (at least once or twice a week!) and take your time. The best time is early morning when it is still cool but after the dew has dried off. Before starting to mow, walk over the lawn to collect stones, forgotten toys, dog faeces and other objects that could damage the machine or be a danger to you.
- Alternate your mowing route and adhere strictly to the rule of not cutting off more than 1/3 at a time. If you do cut your lawn more drastically you damage the plants’ ability to produce nutrients for itself via the process of photosynthesis.
- Fit a grass box to your machine to collect grass clippings while lawn mowing. Clipping should not be left in thick layers on the lawn or they will form a mat. If you own a mulching mower (recycling mower) and mow regularly, the machine will cut up the clippings finely and distribute it back into the lawn. This returns natural nutrients to the lawn as the grass clippings decay.
- Do not mow a very wet lawn as this will cause ruts. You should also check out for hollows where water can gather, and correct them with thin layers of lawn dressing or fine compost.
- The best cut is a double cut: remove 50% of what you intend to cut off and the other 50% in a different direction a few days later.
- Water the lawn regularly and stick to a dedicated fertilising programme throughout summer.
Seeded lawn care
Spring is the right time for sowing a new lawn. Go for two indigenous lawn types that are perfect for our summer heat conditions, and which are drought tolerant as well once well established. They are buffalo grass and LM (Berea) grass. Initial care straight after sowing your lawn is to keep foot traffic off the area and to irrigate correctly to encourage good seed germination. The top 2cm layer of soil must be kept evenly and consistently moist so irrigate frequently in hot weather (up to twice a day), keeping in mind that sandy soil and sunny spots will dry out quicker than the shadier areas (where these lawn types will also grow). If you have clay soil, take care not to create puddles, as this produces drenched soil that prevents oxygen from reaching the seedlings’ roots.