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When is the best time to cut grass?

Grass is usually cut during the spring, summer and early autumn but how long this period of time lasts for depends on the seasons. A short winter can herald grass cutting as early as February and this is also dictated to some degree by geographical location. A warm and mild autumn can mean the grass is still growing in November.

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The frequency of grass cutting

In the height of the warm weather during the summer months, grass growth rates can be incredible and if a typical English summer delivers regular rainfall then you could be cutting grass weekly or even twice a week. Mowing is very time consuming and a lawn can quickly get out of control if it is left too long so some people will employ a gardener to keep on top of this task during the hot months meaning they can avoid the chore themselves and just enjoy the end result.

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Cutting grass is good for the health of the lawn

Mowing is actually the key to a healthy lawn as every cut encourages the grass to grow more strongly and densely and thickens up the sward. Good grass growth blocks out weeds and encourages a more durable plant which helps the lawn to stand up to wear and tear.

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The key to successful grass cutting

If you have ever wondered why your neighbour’s lawn always looks amazing and yours doesn’t despite your regular cutting regime, then there could be a few reasons why. A beautiful lawn is not just about the frequency of cutting, here are some top tips which you can follow to create a really fabulous looking lawn:-

  • Have your mower serviced regularly, most mower companies are very busy in the springtime so don’t get caught out, service and repair your mower over the winter months so you are ready for the spring. Chipped or blunt blades will bruise or tear the grass
  • Clean the mower regularly to avoid a build-up of clippings
  • Aim to reduce the lawn height by one third every time you cut. Grass does not grow evenly so your plan to cut every Saturday morning may not work so well if the weather has been unpredictable. Try and have a flexible grass cutting routine so you can stick to the one third rule
  • Although grass growth can being as early as February, the grass is still growing more slowly at this time of year so only cut fortnightly. If you cut weekly at this time of year then this is overcutting and you will disrupt the normal growth cycle of the grass
  • Grass growth rates peak in late spring so around May if the seasons are settled and you may need to cut twice weekly at this time to maintain the one third rule
  • Get the grass height right, a good average to work to is 2.5cm to 4cm tall but in areas which are heavily used, you might be better keeping the height at around 5cm and in shaded corners, you could even go as long as 7cm or 8cm
  • Adjust the cutting height on the mower to suit the weather, the season and the state of the grass. It is usual to cut on a slightly higher blade setting at the beginning and end of the mowing season so the grass is a little longer. In hot and dry conditions when rainfall is reduced or absent, a higher cut setting also works well as longer foliage will retain any moisture and this will help keep the grass green and shade the soil from further dehydration
  • Only mow on dry days – if you cut when the lawn is wet, the mower will cut into the soil and wet grass clippings will clump up and smother the lawn. Cut when the grass and the soil beneath it is dry
  • Avoid newly sown patches of grass until the grass has established to a height of around 4cm
  • Trim the edges, overgrown lawn edges can make even the most manicured lawn look untidy. There is a handy half-moon tool specifically designed for this task and this usually only needs to be done once or maybe twice in the season
  • If you have a large area to cut and time is tight then consider investing in a ride-on mower which will significantly reduce the time it takes to cut the grass compared to a standard electric mower

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Frequently Asked Questions

What other things keep the lawn healthy?

Cutting the grass is one of the most beneficial things you can do but there are other jobs associated with lawn maintenance and especially if the lawn is in poor condition. Aerate the lawn, over time; particularly with the footfall of family life, grass can become compacted and this causes problems with air circulation, water drainage and the absorption of nutrients. Water the lawn during times of drought and prolonged dryness and use natural lawn fertilisers to feed and restore the plants, safe for the environment and your family and pets.

How can I create stripes on my lawn?

For that traditional striped finish, use a mower fitted with a roller. The effect of the stripes is created by the light reflecting off the blades of grass which are flattened in different directions so giving the appearance of striping. A striped lawn can make a small area appear larger.

How can I encourage insects and butterflies to my lawn?

Leave an area unmown and wild and this will encourage different species and birds and insects.

What should I do with the lawn clippings?

You can collect the clippings in a grass collection box on the mower and compost them or leave them on the lawn during the summer months to help retain moisture. You don’t have to do this every time you cut if you are planning an event or party and want the lawn to look its best but if you follow this practice fairly regularly then the lawn will benefit from the additional moisture.

To find out if your local council runs a garden maintenance service for elderly or disabled council tenants, see the government website. For more information on legislation regarding lawnmowers and noise pollution, see legislation.gov.uk.

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