The First Cut Is The Deepest. NOT! 3 Steps to Cutting Back Winter Growth

Yes. “The First Cut Is The Deepest”. Great song, made famous by Rod Stewart but actually written by…guess…go on… no? Ok. Cat Stevens. Yes Cat Stevens  back when he was still a Cat.

Cat Stevens?
Cat Stevens?

Cat also wrote ‘Wild World’ which is probably what you are hummingto yourself as you cast an eye over the post winter nightmare of your lawn and start to think about your first, Neil Armstrong like step into the garden to start the seasonal rollercoaster of trimming it into shape.”This is a small step for a man and a giant step for…oh lord what have I trodden in?”Well. Anyway. Here is where the title comes into its own and it’s well worth remembering the general rule – “DON’T CUT TOO MUCH AT FIRST!” Sorry, was I shouting? It’s merely that I have given said advice before only to be confronted by angry mobs gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair and telling me their lawn isn’t growing properly and they don’t know  what to do Bo-Hoo Wail.

I’m not being cruel. It’s simply that you do need to be careful when you make your first incision into the green and lush stuff and, much like anything else, don’t rush into it.

So, FIRST: I’m going to go back to the cosy, snuggly, fire-side hogging time before you pulled out the lawn mower and ask you if you have prepared for this moment. For example – have you raked and scarified? A powered rake or a scarifier is a good method of preparimg your lawn, creating tiny channels for nutrients, air and water to get into and raking to clear any twigs, leaves and other detritus. If not do it NOW, and  if you don’t want to scarify, at the very least rake all that stuff out of the way and make sure your mowing path is clear. Oh and bearing in mind what I said earlier re treading in stuff, first check the lawn for little gifts left by foxes and so on first.

SECOND: Make sure the that the ground is reasonably firm and doesn’t resemble a wet paper towel. Obviously at this time of year it’s harder to find a totally dry lawn than it is to find a footballer in a library but you don’t want it sodden and saturated.  For a start, you don’t want wet clippings clogging up the mower that you cleaned and polished at the end of the season… what’s that? You didn’t? Shame on you. Make a note to do it at the end of this season, it’s way better for your mower.

THIRD: and most importantly – (although I don’t think that’s actually a word): Don’t Cut Too Low. You need to just take a little off the top at first,  like an old fashioned “something for the weekend Sir?” type barber. You’re not looking to turn the lawn into Sinead O’Connor, just to trim. What you are actually doing, of course, is cutting back the winter growth in stages, so how much you take off really depends on how long your grass is. Try to estimate this. For example, if your grass is 10cm tall, cut it back to 7cm on the first cut and next time maybe 5cm and the time after that 3cm.

In other words – don’t try to do it all at once. That way your lawn will have a much better chance of staying healthy as the growing season spreads its green bachanalian fingers across the land. And that’s about it for this week…oh and one more thing. Clean your lawn mower afterwards and earn that cup of tea! And enjoy your lawn

Drew Hardy


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