For the best possible lawn cut make sure mower blades are sharp. Set the height of mowing for three inches and do not deviate from this mowing height. Always run the engine at full throttle so blades spin as fast as possible. Travel across the lawn at a reasonable pace allowing time for the blades to cut and discharge clippings. Never pull a mower backward. They do not cut well in reverse. Mow often enough so that you never remove more than one third of the grass plant. In an ideal situation the grass is allowed to grow to four inches and then cut to three. Clippings should remain neatly on the lawn.
Mower Blades must be sharp. In normal mowing conditions a professional cutter will sharpen mower blades every six hours of cutting. For the home owner mowing her own lawn, sharpening and balancing blades every fifteen hours of mowing is the common recommendation. If you do not own the tools necessary to sharpen and balance your own mower blade, buy an extra blade or set of blades as the case may be. When the old one becomes dull replace it and have it sharpened and balanced by your mower shop.
Dull Mower Blades tear the grass plants causing the lawn to look brown. The frayed edges of grass blades damaged by a dull mower blade lose more moisture and are more prone to disease. Reportedly, a mower running with dull blades will use 22% more fuel than when operated under the same conditions with properly sharpened blades. Dull blades put more stress on bearings, belts, drive-shafts and engines. Never mow with a dull, bent, or out of balance blade.
Three inches is the recommended mowing height for most of the grass types used in home lawns. Ignore the old guy next door who tells you to mow shorter in the spring. I do not recommend mowing any shorter than three inches at the end of the season either. Put a ruler into the lawn to make sure your mower is properly set to cut at three inches. Allow the lawn to grow to four inches and then cut back to three. For best results, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass plant in any one mowing. Mow at least once per week. Mow more often in the spring as need and time dictates. I have emphasized routine mowing at three inches twice now. Proper mowing is the best thing you can do for your lawn.
Mowing a lawn shorter than three inches not only damages the top of the grass plant but the roots as well. Because the plant is unable to carry out photosynthesis as normal it must call on sugar reserves in it roots. The restocking of these root reserves can stop normal function and root growth of the grass plant for up to a month. The loss of root growth can make the difference between a lawn with problems and one without. Regular mowing is imperative. When a lawn is left to grow tall the crowns of the grass plants elongate. Imagine cutting a tree down to its trunk and that's about the extent of damage to the lowly grass plant when its cut too short or allowed to grow too tall before mowing.
Clippings should be left neatly on the lawn. Grass clippings are equivalent to a 4-1-3 fertilizer. Grass clippings are comprised of 85% water and 15% cellulose. Grass clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup. Clumps of clippings are bad news however. When grass clippings are left in clumps on the lawn they may kill the grass beneath them. There are only three reasons to ever bag grass clippings. The first is if you have a pool side environment and clippings left on the lawn are tracked into the pool. The second is if you find yourself mowing in a confined space between planting beds. The third is when I'm confronted with a lawn that hasn't been mowed in weeks and the amount of clippings would exceed the ability to “leave clippings neatly on the lawn”. Your lawn’s needs for its grass clippings far outweigh the landfill’s need or ability to handle them.
If you have been blessed with the stewardship of a lawn, remember the importance of that task.
The average size healthy lawn cleans the air and produces enough oxygen for two families of four. When the temperature of pavement hits 100 degrees F, the temperature of turf grass areas is about 75 degrees F, cooling the environment. Turf grass reduces noise by absorbing, deflecting, and refracting sound. Turf grass holds topsoil in place, cleans rain water and cleans the air we breathe.