Mowing is the job of cutting the grass regularly to keep your lawn tidy and healthy. Cutting the grass encourages strong growth and finer grasses for a smooth, even lawn. The average lawn will need 30 cuts a year, but bear in mind that the less you cut your lawn, the slower it will grow. Your lawn will also benefit from some annual or on-going maintenance.
Top tips to making mowing easier
To avoid bending you will need a mower that is easy to manoeuvre, and where controls and accessories can be reached easily, so take time to try equipment before you buy.
- If you have a close-cropped lawn it will need more frequent mowing. A longer 1-inch cut shouldn’t need mowing more than once a week in summer.
- Hard-wearing, slow-growing grass varieties are best if you are sowing a new lawn and avoid a fussy lawn shape with sharp curves as it will be more time consuming to maintain.
- Clover, daisies and other ‘weeds’ will keep your lawn greener in dry weather and leaving them in place will mean that you don’t have to spend time weeding.
- Lawns cut level with the path are easier to mow and try to plan the direction of mowing to avoid unnecessary turning, reversing or overlapping.
- If you use a wheelchair, it can be a good idea to reinforce the lawn. You can do this by laying semi-rigid netting, such as Netlon Turfguard, which allows the grass to grow through.
- If you find the upkeep of your lawn difficult, consider replacing it with an area of paving, or other hard surface.
Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches before digging, keep your back straight and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.
- Make sure that any power-driven mower you use has a reliable speed control and have seats near the lawn where you can take regular breaks.
- Be aware that using a mower can put a strain on your back, legs and arms. Mow a stretch at a time, and don’t overdo it. Always 'warm up' with a few gentle stretches before you start.
- All electrical equipment should always be fitted with a residual circuit breaker.
Equipment and tools for mowing the lawn
Hover mowers are light and easy to operate but try one out first because the side to side sweeping action can put a strain on your back. Bear in mind that a hover mower will need to be carried, rather than wheeled into place.
- Avoid petrol mowers - these are powerful and the ‘pull’ start action can cause strain.
- Cylinder blade mowers give the best finish, but are not so good on long or damp grass.
A lawn mower with grass box reduces the amount of debris in the lawn, and the need to scarify and sweep, but take care when emptying the grass box and empty it regularly so it isn’t too full and heavy.
- Battery-powered mowers don’t have cables to worry about and might be an option for you as they are gradually coming down in weight and in price – but try the controls before you buy to ensure they are suitable.
- Automatic and Robotic mowers are now available from around £600 upwards. Although they are expensive, once they are set up they require little or no effort to use.
You can cut trips to empty the grass box with a mulch mower, which reduces the cuttings to a fine mulch and spreads it back on the lawn.
- To trim the edges of the lawn, try an electric strimmer or battery powered (rechargeable) one-handed shears. You can use an extension handle with both tools to cut the lawn edge from a standing position.
Have a look at the list of equipment and tools after the information on lawn maintenance.
There are specialist companies that offer seasonal lawn maintenance and use machinery to quickly weed, feed, aerate and scarify your lawn. This can be a cost effective solution as it saves you the expense of buying equipment that will only be used once or twice a year – it also saves a lot of time and effort.
However, if you can invest some time and effort in maintaining your lawn, here is some helpful tips and information on equipment and tools.
This is spiking or puncturing the lawn with a garden fork or specialist tool to improve drainage and allow air to the roots. Lawns usually need aerating once a year– particularly if the soil is heavy and more likely to get compacted.
You can reduce the need to aerate the lawn by not walking on it in wet weather, not using a heavy mower, and not rolling the lawn.
- Aerate the lawn by pressing the tines of a garden fork or aerator into the soil but make sure the handle is long enough so you don't have to bend. Always warm up with a few gentle stretches, do a little at a time, and keep your back straight.
- A lawn spiker with hollow tines aerates the lawn and removes small plugs of soil as you go. There are versions with two or four tines on a crossbar with a long bar-style handle. You can use this tool without bending.
- A light rotary aerating machine can be pushed along like a lawn mower to spike the lawn. It might take some forward pressure to push.
- If you have strong legs, you can aerate the lawn by walking over it wearing spiked boards that fit over your shoes.
This is raking the lawn hard with a spring-tined lawn rake to remove the build up of old waste matter, or ‘thatch’. This allows in light, air and moisture for grasses to thrive and is usually needed annually.
Scarifying is the most arduous lawn maintenance task and may be too stenuous. However, some mowers can be fitted with a scarifying tool but don’t forget to try the controls before you buy to ensure they are suitable for you.
A high-nitrogen feed in spring improves grass growth. Feeding with a higher-phosphorus feed in the autumn encourages root development.
- A wheeled lawn feed applicator gives an even distribution of lawn feed. You can also apply one of the mixes of feed and weedkiller in this way.
- Soluble feed or weedkiller can be applied using a spray attachment on your hose, or pump-spray and lance. Granular weedkiller can be easier to measure and handle than liquid forms.