Get the neighborhood association off your back—or just do yourself proud—by learning to mow like a pro.
: Clear away any debris before mowing, and always wear ear and eye protection, plus sturdy closed-toe shoes. Do not allow children to operate or ride on mowers.
Step 1: Trim the edge Cut the edges of your lawn with a special edger or a regular trimmer before you begin mowing. If your lawn is very small, hand-operated shears will do.
Step 2: Have your lawn mower serviced If you can’t remember the last time you had your lawn mower serviced, take it in for a checkup and blade sharpening. It may be time to replace the oil, air filter, and spark plugs. Consult your owner’s manual to schedule future maintenance.
TIP: A dull blade shreds your lawn, instead of cutting it, leaving it open to disease; it also makes your mower use more fuel—and a gas-powered push mower pollutes as much as 11 cars!
Step 3: Know your grass Find out your grass’s optimum cutting height, which depends on what type of grass you have. If you don’t know, bag up a few blades and bring them to your local garden center.
Step 4: Wait until grass is ready Make sure the grass is completely dry and between three and four inches tall before mowing.
Step 5: Set the cutting height Set the cutting height on your mower for the correct height for your grass.
TIP: Plan to finish mowing by 6 p.m., because dew begins to settle as the sun sets.
Step 6: Cut up and down Cut your lawn up and down, as opposed to round and round. When you begin each new row, have the mower overlap half the row you just cut.
TIP: If you’re pushing a manual mower, keep your back straight and your elbows bent, and walk at a steady pace.
Step 7: Adjust for slopes If you come to a slope, mow from side to side, rather than up and down.
Step 8: Leave grass clippings Leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Raking them up taxes your lawn and, besides, they return nutrients to the soil.
Step 9: Change directions Change directions the next time you mow. In the meantime, enjoy your manicured lawn!
FACT: Thirty-one percent of gardeners said that the sorry state of their neighbor’s lawn makes them angry.