Lawn Care Tips

As a lawn care provider for 20+ years, my aim here is to provide some helpful hints, tips and advice to those who want to increase the health and appearance of the lawn they care for. Whether you are new to lawn care or an old hand, you will find information here that will save you time, money and wasted effort. Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why It’s A Good Idea To Alternate Your Mowing Patterns

Most gasoline powered lawn mowers are relatively heavy. By always mowing your lawn in the exact same pattern you can unintentionally cause the compaction of the soil underneath your turf.

It is better for your lawn and the soil that it grows in for you to vary your mowing pattern whenever you mow. For example, for one mowing you might mow back and forth from the house to the street. The next time, you can mow side to side (from one neighbor’s side to the other neighbor’s side). A third time, you may try mowing on diagonals running in one direction. And a fourth time, mow on diagonals running 90 degrees to the previous diagonals.

The larger and heavier your mowing equipment is, the more important it is to vary your mowing patterns. But regardless of the size and weight of your mowing equipment, compaction is more likely to occur when the soil under your turf is more wet than dry. If it has rained recently, or your lawn has received a good watering, it will be more susceptible to compaction.

The reason you want to avoid the compaction of your soil is that once it is compacted water and air do not penetrate as well. And thus the roots of your lawn will not be as healthy as they could be. With enough compaction, grass will not grow at all. A case in point is a footpath that has been constantly walked on so that grass won’t even try to grow there any more. Or take the classic two-track road where you notice the grass grows on both sides and the center but not where the weight of the tires has rolled.

You will benefit the most from varying your mowing pattern at the beginning of the mowing season. At this time the soil is usually looser due to the recent heaving and the more recent thawing of the previous winter’s freeze.

NEXT TIME: The Use of Stepping Stones In High Traffic Areas


At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I read in a lawn book that mowing the same direction will cause the grass to always lean in that direction, is there any truth to that?

BTW - Great topics!

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Thank you for your question and your kind words. Actually I wouldn’t put too much stock in what you read in that lawn book about the grass always leaning in the same direction when it’s always mowed in the same direction. The stems of grass - although stiffer than the blades - are relatively soft and pliable. These stems, with their attached leaves of grass, will always be striving to grow straight up toward the sky and the sun. Whether the mowing pattern is varied or not, most healthy growing lawns will be springy enough that within several days of mowing there will be little trace of the last mowing pattern or any leaning grass plants. If there is, it’s more likely caused by the grass being or becoming dormant. I do believe it is important to vary the mowing pattern when possible to prevent possible compaction, but I do not think you need to be concerned about causing any permanent change in the direction your grass may be leaning. Thanks again for this question as it is one I have been asked many times by many customers.

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Hero Winnipeg said...

Great article. As a lawn care Winnipeg company, we agree. Mowing patterns must be alternated. One method is the "four corners" being up-down, side-side, diagonal left, diagonal right.

However, if a person gets lazy and doesn't want to alternate direction, they can still alternate by offsetting their grass cutting during each mowing. This offsets the ruts.

A true alternating pattern is a far better method for a smooth cut, and to reduce rutting as much as possible.


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