Hints & Tips
“Mowing the lawn? Easy as falling off a log.” That is what you may hear from the occasional glib gardener who obviously spends a lot more time tumbling from the top of unstable timber than actually mowing a lawn. However, a simple mow of the lawn is far more sophisticated than just getting out there and cutting.
Now those chilly westerlies have died down and it’s less like a scene from ‘Twister’ in my garden, we’ve put our fleeces away for the winter (or have we?) and we can get out a bit more and get that mowing done. So, in order to give you some weapons in the fight against wilful grass blades, here are some dos and don’ts that will see to it you win and win big.
1. Do cut regularly during the season. A good, smart cut on a regular basis will encourage healthy growth and lead to a healthier looking lawn. And, it’s good exercise, so get out there and do it…unles you are on a ride-on when you can probably make up for lack of exercise by lifting weights while you mow. N.B I‘ve been asked by the lawyers to say, in the interest of health and safety, don’t ever actually lift weights while you are on a ride-on. Thank you…oh and the cup holder isn’t for beer either, apparently. Now they tell me!
2. Don’t mow at the hottest time of the day. Men. You know who I’m talking to. I know you want to go out with your shades and those cargo shorts you bought last year that your wife doesn’t like but you think make you look like Bear Grills, so you look as cool as is possible while pushing a cylinder mower across the lawn but it’s not about getting a tan, or impressing the au pair next door so try doing it in the cooler part of the day. The lawn will thank you for it as it is busy trying to draw nutrition during the sunniest part of the day.
3. Do keep your blades sharp. Imagine you are shaving. What do blunt blades feel like? Yes. Ow! Your lawn deserves the same attention. Dull blades rip out grass, sharp blades cut it evenly. If you rip it out and damage it, disease can spread more easily. If you don’t feel confident to sharpen the blades yourself, go and get it done professionally. And I’m not being sexist…women shave too.
4. Don’t cut a long lawn short in one go. It needs time to recover. If you have abandoned it for a while, don’t rush out there and clip the life out of it. Imagine you are giving a haircut to a hippy. You don’t want to shock them by going straight for the buzz cut. Work up to it gradually. Cut it longer first then work down to a shorter length, giving it time to save moisture and fighting off weeds and disease.
5. Do think about mulching. Leave your clippings on the lawn to act as a natural fertiliser, feeding and nurturing your lawn, leading to greener, healthier looking growth. Many mowers have a mulching option. Please don’t leave anything else on the lawn… children, leftover ham sandwiches empty coke cans and your Peppa Pig rucksack are not mulch.
6. Don’t make sharp turns. I know it’s fun to pretend you are the Sweeney, skidding around corners making shrieking noises when you think the kids are not looking, but handbrake turns, especially if your lawn is new, can tear up the turf and can scalp your lawn. Keep it smooth. Keep it clean. Try to keep your corners as rounded as possible and take your time. In fact, why not try alternative patterns like spirals so there are no sharp turns at all. There’s fancy!
7. Do take your time. It is very tempting to rush around the lawn so you can get back to playing Call Of Duty or watching ‘Escape To The Country’. Like making smooth turns, if you take your time you will be treating your lawn better and reducing the risk of scalping bits of it. You wouldn’t like it if your barber rushed the job and left you with one side shorter than the other, that Human League look is so eighties. Taking it slow can It can be very relaxing and can give you time to consider life’s little puzzles… like why contemporary postmen leave cards saying they tried to deliver when they don’t actually carry any parcels any more.
8. Try to remember when your editor asks you to do a top ten, that you actually need ten. Making one up about what your editor said won’t do. Oh, yes, and if you are going to miss one off, make it the last one so you can pretend it’s a clerical error. Don’t miss out number 8 DOH! Not that the editor will notice, too busy trying to chat up Holly. (see me – Ed.)
9. Don’t forget tо give your lawn mower a good clean after you have finished. Many mowers have a deck sluicing nozzle so you can just attach a hose, but even if your doesn’t, you can scrape and clean out the cutting deck, make sure there is no mud or grass in the engine. You could use a pressure washer if you have one. If it is a petrol model and you won’t be using it for a while, empty any leftover petrol out so it can’t clog up the carburettor next time you use it. Make sure your lawn mower is turned off and, if electric, unplugged before you do any cleaning or maintenance!
10. Finally, store it somewhere warm and dry, even if you are going to cut again next week. I know there’s a heatwave coming (isn’t there always, like ‘jam tomorrow’) but you never know.
So. That’s it. Get out there into the green and pleasant and cut that grass. Hopefully, it will be proper weather soon and we can spend even more time outside… Enjoy Your Garden. Drew Hardy
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