DIY Network

Mowing and Trimming a Lawn

This DIY Basic will provide tips on mowing and trimming a lawn.

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Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

tractor mower
fuel container
ear protection
long pants
heavy shoes
fuel container
wrench (scene 5)
ramp for mower (scene 6)
Craftsman measuring tape
Craftsman work gloves logo
bird bath

Prepare to Mow the Grass

Start by checking mower.

Make sure you have the right mix of fuel. Never fill tank with mower on lawn; spills will kill grass. Never fill hot mower.

Tighten nuts and bolts.

Clean blade.

Check sparkplug and air filter.

Wear ear protection, long pants and heavy shoes.

Check lawn for rocks or sticks.

Mow the Grass

Different types of grass should be cut at different heights: fescue 2–3 inches; bent grass 1/4–1 inch; Bermuda 3/4–1 1/2 inches; zoysia 1–2 inches; St. Augustine 1 1/2–2 1/2 inches; bluegrass 1 3/4–2 1/2 inches; rye 1 1/2–2 inches.

Clipping the crown off grass makes it branch out and become dense, which creates a tightly woven lawn. For healthy grass, never cut more than 1/3 of grass height. In drought, cut in lower range; in cooler weather cut in higher range.

Tip: If you cut 1/3 of height, clippings will decompose and go back into soil as nutrients.

For even surface, let wheels slightly overlap previous pass. Each time you mow, cut a different pattern: horizontal, vertical, lower right to upper left, lower left to upper right. Mow across lawns at an angle, not up and down.

Trim the Edges

Plant groundcover on steep slopes.

Trim along driveway and walks. Use an edger or trimmer, or for faster trimming, use mower. Cutting a wedge into soil along driveway and street allows you to trim with mower.

Tip: If you surround trees and shrubs with a circle of mulch 8 to 10 inches from base, you can trim edges with mower without danger of injuring bark.