Tuesday, 10 August 2010

How to Cut Grass

Looking after a garden is a pretty easy job - if you do a little work on a regular basis. Especially in summer, when Nature is waiting to seize its chance to go wild!

You'd think from reading some guides that learning how to cut grass properly is as demanding as putting humankind on Mars. In fact, it's dead straightforward.

If your grass is long and unkempt, of course it will be difficult to deal with at first. You will probably need a strimmer (or a scythe, if you're an old-fashioned type who likes hard work!) to give an initial rough cut, before you can put a mower over it. Something to remember is that a lawn is just a meadow that's been tamed - the more you mow, the better quality of lawn you'll have.

Once you can put a mower over the grass, you'll need to do so regularly to keep on top of it, and to keep it looking neat. As summer ends and the weather gets colder, I tend to cut higher and less: once a week should be more than adequate, then less frequently or not at all as it gets too cold for grass to grow.

In spring likewise I'll start off with a high cut, often leaving the cuttings to help mulch the lawn. But as the warmer weather comes in, I'll cut shorter by lowering the blades; if I don't, it means I have to cut more often. By the way, every mower should have a means of changing the blade level.

When I mow a lawn I always start by doing the edges. I use my strimmer for this, but if you haven't got one you'll have to use shears or one of those lawn-edgers you can buy. Then I'll go round the perimeter, gradually closing into the middle; or gradually straightening into lines if the customer prefers.

If the grass is a little long, you may have to have a fair overlap on your passes. It's quite easy for a mower to miss a strip which you don't notice till you're ready to pack up. But generally you simply need to keep the wheels overlapping your last cut.

During dry weather it's wise to cut less. Sometimes just a quick trim will do. And if a lawn turns brown, simply wait for the rain to return. Watering is just a waste of water.

I like to mulch a lawn all over around February to encourage worm activity and give the grass a boost. And if you wear golf shoes with spikes on while mowing, it helps to aerate the soil.

Finally, as a professional I also spend time ensuring my equipment is in good condition: blades sharpened regularly, moving parts lubricated, machines given a wipe over after use. It makes the whole job a great deal easier.

I hope you've enjoyed these few tips. I plan to write many more, drawing on my thirty years' experience running my own garden business. If you'd like to ask any particular question, or if you'd be interested in learning how to set up and run your own gardening business, just send me an email at colin.smith@gardener.com. Or simply leave a comment below.