How to Mow a Lawn and 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Few things signify the arrival of warmer weather quite like the distinct hum of lawnmowers on a sunny Saturday afternoon. For many, this ritual of grooming the green expanse of a backyard serves as a seasonal outlook of pride and a connection to the natural rhythms of life. Despite its commonality, mowing a lawn isn’t as simple as it seems. There’s a true art and science behind it – one that, when ignored, can lead to the gradual decline of your grassy haven.

In this comprehensive guide, we’re taking the handle of the lawnmower and steering it toward greener pastures. We’ll explore not only the proper way to mow your lawn but also the common blunders you’ll want to steer clear of. With a little knowledge and a touch of practice, your lawn can be the envy of the neighborhood.

Choosing the Right Mower for Your Lawn

The starting point for a well-mowed lawn is the selection of the right equipment. When it comes to lawnmowers, variety isn’t just the spice of life; it’s the key to tailored lawn care. Here’s what you need to know about your options:

Push Mowers:

Simple, affordable, and powered purely by your elbow grease, push mowers are perfect for small lawns. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they also provide good exercise.

Self-Propelled Mowers:

For slightly larger yards or those with hilly terrain, a self-propelled mower takes the strain out of mowing. The power is still in your hands, quite literally, but the machine does a lot of the work for you.

Riding Mowers:

Traveling in style isn’t just for the highways; riding mowers are perfect for really large areas. Investing in one depends on the size of your yard and, of course, your budget.

Robotic Mowers:

The tech-savvy solution to lawn care, robotic mowers will munch away at your grass while you relax. However, they’re best suited for small to medium lawns with simple topographies.

The key is to match your mower to your lawn’s size, gradient, and obstacles. A machine too large can be unwieldy, and too small will quickly wear out. Equip yourself, quite literally, with the right tool for the job.

Related: Tips and Phases for Watering New Grass Seed

Preparation for Mowing

Mowing is as much about preparation as it is about the act itself. Before mowing, your lawn needs a little TLC:

Clear the Lawn:

Debris like sticks, stones, and children’s toys can turn into dangerous projectiles when struck by the mower blades. And forget about leaves; these will clog your mower and affect the cut quality.

Mark Obstacles:

Be mindful of any permanent fixtures in your yard. Use flagstones, string, or any other visible marker to ensure you’re not accidentally mowing down your prize roses or the sprinkler system.

Sharpen Blades:

Dull blades can turn a routine mow into a grass massacre. Sharpen the blades at the start of each mowing season and check them periodically during the season.

Check Your Fluids:

Just like your car, a mower needs oil and sometimes gasoline. Make sure your mower’s tank is full and there are no leaks.

These simple steps ensure that the mowing process is safe for you, your lawn, and your mower.

The Correct Mowing Technique

Mowing isn’t just about making your lawn shorter; it’s about grooming it for health and appearance. Here’s what you should consider:

Mowing Height:

Different grasses thrive at different heights. Generally, cool-season grasses are happy at about 2.5 inches tall, while warm-season grasses like to be a little shorter, around 2 inches.

1/3 Rule:

Never cut more than one-third of the grass blade’s length at a time. This ensures you don’t shock the grass and leave it susceptible to diseases and pests.

Mowing Patterns:

For consistency and to avoid compaction, switch up your mowing pattern every time. This also prevents the grass from leaning in one direction and helps it grow upright.


Mow your lawn frequently but not obsessively. The grass should ideally be just slightly longer than the recommended height before you mow it to maintain a healthy yard.

Adhering to these principles ensures your grass gets the right cut at the right frequency.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

No matter how long you’ve been mowing your lawn, common mistakes can easily slip in. Here are five to watch out for:

Cutting Too Short:

This is perhaps the most common mistake. Scalping the lawn weakens the grass and opens it up to weeds and pests.

Mowing with Dull Blades:

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. Dull blades tear the grass instead of cutting it cleanly.

Mowing in Wet Conditions:

Not only can it potentially damage your mower, but mowing wet grass causes clumps, uneven cuts, and can lead to fungal growth.

Overlapping Too Much:

Mowing too much of the same track leads to soil compaction. Over time, this can result in bare spots and thinner grass.

Ignoring the Season:

Different seasons call for different mowing heights and strategies. Be attentive to what your lawn needs at any given point in the year.

By steering clear of these pitfalls, your mowing efforts will yield the best results for your lawn.

Post-Mowing Care

Mowing is just one piece of the lawn care puzzle. After the grass has been trimmed, it’s time to pamper it a bit:

Clean the Mower:

An unkempt mower can spread diseases throughout the lawn. To prevent this, give your mower a good clean after every use.

Watering and Feeding:

After the stress of being mowed, your lawn could use some nourishment. A good watering and, if needed, some fertilizer will help it recover and thrive.

Watch and Wait:

After mowing, keep an eye out for any issues. If a particular section of the lawn is struggling post-mow, it may be time to reevaluate your cutting approach in that area.

Adopting a holistic approach to lawn care ensures that your cutting efforts support a healthy, vibrant lawn each season.


Mowing a lawn is more than just a chore – it’s a chance to connect with the outdoors and take pride in your home’s curb appeal. By selecting the correct mower, preparing diligently, adopting good mowing technique, avoiding common mistakes, and following through with post-mowing care, your lawn will be set up for success. Your grass will be greener, your yard will be healthier, and you’ll have the satisfaction of a job well done.

Remember, like anything worthwhile, the perfect mow takes time and practice to achieve. Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn from your lawn’s unique needs. With this guide as your starting point, you’re well on your way to becoming a lawn mowing maestro. Happy mowing!

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