Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rental Girl’s Musings on Lawn Care: Mowing

Common problem: Cutting back on monthly expenses = laying off your gardener
Common side effect: Having to take care of the yard yourself...

As I begin, I have to note that I'm VERY grateful that my own lawn care is included in my rent, as I'm not really the type that would love to take care of my lawn. By the way, I think my husband's also secretly relieved that he doesn't have to spend hours more a week working on the yard. But don't tell him that I know it. :)

I have been thinking about this topic lately, wondering what we would do if we were responsible for keeping a nice green, trim lawn to match the others in our picture perfect neighborhood. What equipment would we need? And what the heck do you do with it? Is it enough to mow it once a week and leave it alone?

Mowing - I guess there's more to it
I think we all remember the neighborhood kid mowing our yard for some extra cash, something that seems to be a bit of a relic here in California or at least in our neighborhood. I was somewhat surprised to learn from some friends (but then also not) that there are still enterprising young teenagers mowing lawns in Dallas, TX. At any rate, mowing should be the simplest task in lawn care - we often relegate this task to teenagers and our husbands after all! As I began to do research I learned that it's pretty straightforward, but not as simple as I thought.

First I found that there are many different varieties of grass. Ok. And that they have to be mowed at different lengths in order to flourish. This is a bit trickier. Apparently each variety of grass should be mowed at an optimal height for that species, somewhere between 0.5"-3". In general, warm climate grasses are mowed at a shorter height and cold climate grasses at a higher height. If you cut the grass too short, it is more vulnerable to disease and water runoff which causes all that precious water run off your grass and into the street instead of being absorbed (Hmm, I think I need to have a talk with our gardener). To adjust the cutting height you'll need to make sure that you "set" the blade on your mower at the correct height, or ask someone to do this for you when you rent a mower at your local rental center.

To find the type of grass that you have I found this site helpful - you can find pictures and names of common warm and cold climate grasses. To find the optimal mowing height for each one, click here.

4 Tips for Mowing

#1 Mow early in the day, but when the grass is dry.

#2 Set the blade on your mower to the optimal height for your grass type. Don't overmow!

#3 Mow in an organized pattern, back and forth across the lawn to make sure you don't miss any spots - sorry, no zigzags! Also try alternating the direction in which you mow each week.

#4 Leave some of the grass clippings on the lawn for a free and natural fertilizer.

For more information about renting a lawn mower visit AAA Rentals Redwood City

Don't miss my next post..."it's all about the holes"