How to mow a lawn correctly

Maintaining a lush green lawn is a source of pride for many homeowners. However, to achieve a well-manicured lawn, you need to master the art of grass cutting. Here’s how to mow a lawn correctly, and keep your lawn looking its best.

striped grass

When is the best time to cut grass?

The best time to cut your grass is in the evening after the peak heat of the day. This is better than cutting in the morning because of the morning dew. Try not to mow wet grass when possible.

How often do I have to mow my lawn?

How often you need to mow your lawn depends on the month. During active growth periods in the spring and fall, it is recommended to cut your grass twice a week. During the summer slow growth period, cut your grass once every 7-10 days. Do not mow a dormant or mostly dormant lawn.

What is the best lawn mower?

Choosing the best lawn mower for home use is essential. An electric mower is ideal for a small property, while a gas mower is best for a larger property. A reel mower (unpowered mower) cuts grass too short for most Ontario lawns.

What’s the best mowing height?

  • Proper mower height is essential to ensure a healthy lawn. In general, you should set your mower height to 3.5 inches. However, in hotter or shady conditions, a grass height of 4 inches may be better, but you’ll need to mow often enough that the grass does not fold over.
  • If you need to mow extra-long grass, set your mower to the highest setting and cut the lawn. Then, lower the blade to the desired height and mow the lawn again. This takes more time but will cause less damage to grass and less wear on your lawn mower.
  • Follow the rule of thirds when cutting your grass, ensuring you do not cut off more than one-third of the grass blade each cut. Cutting long grass down short will severely stunt growth.
  • Scalping is the practice of mowing the lawn extremely short with the goal of mowing less often. This works because grass growth is severely stunted. We do not recommend this if you want a healthy lawn.
  • Use a string trimmer sparingly, as it rips more than it cuts and usually takes the grass lower than it should be.
  • Golf courses can cut the grass short by using specialized reel mowers that cut grass blades like scissors. Golf courses also use bent grass for putting greens, this type of grass can tolerate very low mowing heights.


Mower blade sharpening:

The importance of sharp blades cannot be overstated, as they are essential for both lawn health and fuel savings (up to 20%). Ensure you sharpen your blades regularly, or at least once in the spring and once in the fall.

Mulching vs. bagging

Mulching, bagging, and side discharge are the three grass clipping disposal methods. Each has its pros and cons.

Method Pros Cons
Mulching Adds nutrients to the soil and reduces yard waste Can leave un-cut grass on the lawn and require more mowing

Can wear out the motor faster

Requires a special blade

Bagging Keeps lawn looking clean and reduces thatch build-up Requires more time and effort to collect and dispose of clippings

Takes nutrients out of your lawn

Side Discharge Quickest and most efficient Can cause debris to scatter and damage nearby plants or property

Can leave lines of dead grass on the lawn

Mulching leaves

Mulching leaves into your lawn is a great way to improve soil quality, but be careful not to use too many leaves. You should be able to see your lawn clearly after mulching the leaves in, if you can’t then you’ve left too many.mowing leaves

Mowing to control weeds:

Proper mowing can help control weeds. Grass grows from the base, while non-grassy weeds grow from the tips. Mowing the lawn properly will stimulate grass growth while also slowing the growth of weeds.  Mowing your lawn short will have the opposite effect and promote low-growing difficult weeds.

When to stop cutting grass in Ontario

You can cut your grass short before fall, but knowing when the last cut is can be tricky in our changing climate. Keep the mowing height the same length and continue mowing as long as you can. If you’re no longer seeing a difference in the grass length after a bi-weekly cut, you can stop mowing for the season In Kingston Ontario, you can usually mow through November.

Some professionals recommend cutting shorter in the fall, we recommend maintaining the same cutting height. The slightly longer grass will produce more energy storage for the following year while also insulating the soil for the winter.

First mow of the season:

Start mowing your lawn when nighttime air temperatures consistently remain above 2-3°C. This will vary depending on your location, but it’s generally safe to start mowing in late April.

If you didn’t get to your last cut and your grass is too long, use a leaf blower as soon as the snow melts to fluff up your lawn and allow for better air circulation.


Maintaining a healthy lawn requires these grass cutting techniques. Mowing grass in the evening and following the “rule of thirds”. Use the right mower and set it to the proper height to encourage deep roots. Keep blades sharp to promote lawn health and increase fuel savings. Start mowing in the spring when air temperatures consistently remain above 2-3°C. By following these lawn maintenance tips, you can maintain a healthy lawn and enjoy the look of fresh cut grass all season long.

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