Cultural Practices - Lawn Mowing


Selecting Mowing Equipment

If you are a homeowner and you mow your own lawn, chances are good that you use a rotary mower. Some homeowners use reel mowers, although these are more commonly used on golf courses or athletic fields where turf is mowed more frequently and at a low height of cut.

Rotary Lawn Mowers - A rotary mower cuts turf using a blade that rotates over the turf at a high speed. The blade of a rotary mower must rotate at a high enough speed to cut the turf into small pieces. When the grass is tall the blade speed will slow and may stall the engine. Some rotary mowers are called “mulching mowers”. These units are designed with a special housing to keep grass suspended while blades cut the grass clippings into very fine pieces.

Reel Lawn Mowers - A reel mower has a set of angled blades that rotate in a circular pattern cutting the turf in a scissor-like fashion. These units can be manually pushed or driven by an engine. Reel mowers are designed to cut turf at a lower height than are rotary mowers. For this reason, the proper cutting interval must be maintained or the quality of cut will be poor.

Tips for Lawn Mowing Equipment Maintenance:

  • Start each season with a sharp blade
  • Buy a spare blade, or set of blades, so you can rotate and keep a sharp blade at all times
  • Sharpen blades after 15 mowings depending on conditions - this is about 3 to 4 times per year for northern turf and 6 to 8 times per year for southern turf
  • Check for balance and straightness
  • Occasionally, a blade or spindle can become warped or bent. This may be the result of hitting an object with the blade or running into something that affects the level of the blade or mower deck.

Additional Lawn Mowing Tips:

  • Alternate your lawn mowing pattern: this will reduce soil compaction and turf wear from the wheels of the mower. Areas like median strips and tree rings are prone to show a wear pattern because it is difficult to change the direction of cut.
  • Always return clippings to your lawn: clippings help feed the lawn and returning clippings is environmentally sound

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