Expert Tips on Grass Mowers and Mowing Lawns
Grass Mowers and Mowing Lawns
Excellent lawns can be quickly ruined by bad mowing; even the best grass mower in the world can ruin a lawn if misused. One of the worst features of power-driven lawn mowers is the effect of glazing. If the grass or the is wet, the power drive should be released and the mower carefully turned round manually. If this is not done, the spinning of the roller causes glazing, a sealing of the soil, and soon grasses die out and moss becomes established.
The more frequently the lawn is cut the better. Three times a week or a minimum of twice a week during the growing season is ideal. However, if under circumstances such as continuous wet weather, holidays or sickness, the lawn is not cut regularly then the machine should be adjusted and no attempt should be made to make one cut at a low setting suffice. Grasses are living plants and can be damaged by badly adjusted or blunt lawn mowers but the damage does not end with the chewing effect of badly adjusted blades. Every ragged end of the grass blade becomes very vulnerable to attacks by a multiplicity of diseases.
With a newly laid lawn, you should wait at least two weeks before attempting to cut the grass after laying the turf and when you do, set the mower blades high for the first month. Adjust any difference in levels which become apparent when you first mow. You can use selective weedkillers after a month.
Types of Grass Mowers
There are two main types of lawn or grass mowing machines. The first is the cylinder mower where a multi-bladed cylinder revolves against a stationary bottom or sole plate. The other is a spinning rotary mower with two or more cutting edges which depend for their ability to cut on the speed at which it revolves. This flail-like action does not produce the best appearance or the finest textured lawn but a well-maintained mower will keep the grass under control and in reasonable condition for a work and play lawn.
For the purely ornamental lawn and for the purist, the cylinder mower with its scissor-like action produces the finest finish and the quality of the cut is determined by the number of blades. For example a ten-bladed cylinder mower will give a far superior cut to a machine with only five blades.
Stripes on the lawn have become an advertising gimmick in recent years and great play is made of this effect on television. It is purely visual and is simply caused by the roller of a cylinder mower pressing the blades of grass, first in one direction and then in the reverse, so that the light is reflected from different angles of the grass blades.
At least every two years a cylinder grass mower should be sent to a suitable firm for overhaul and maintenance, preferably as soon as the cutting season has ended in early October. No attempt should be made to sharpen either blades, cylinder or sole plate, no matter how tempting the adverts which suggest this can be done. Neither can a cylinder be sharpened on a lathe, as this produces the wrong cutting angle. The correct angle can only be obtained by having the cylinder stationary and the abrasive grinder revolve round the [cylinder. Furthermore, the blades are extremely hard and if either of the blades, rotary or straight, can be touched by a file then they have got past the stage of usefulness.
To leave these on the lawn or to collect them is not only a cause of controversy but often of real anxiety. The fact is that if the grass is cut not less than twice a week they may be safely left on. Not only is this an advantage during periods of drought but after fourteen to sixteen days the nitrogen in the cut grass is returned to the soil.
The safest guide with regard to leaving grass clippings on, is that if they are visible two days after cutting with your grass mower, then the lawn should be brushed or raked to remove any surplus.
Setting the Cutting Height
To check the height of the blades of a cylinder mower, place a straight edge across the underside of the front and rear roller. The height of the cut is the distance from the straight edge to the bottom of the fixed blade. Make sure each side has the same setting.
Adjust the cutting height to suit the quality of the lawn, the time of year and the weather conditions according to the information below:
Spring and Autumn
Cut a utility lawn to 32mm (1-1/4 in) in Spring and Autumn or during very dry spells.
Cut a luxury lawn to 18mm (3/4 in) in Spring and Autumn or during very dry spells.
Cut a utility lawn to 25mm (1 in) in summer.
Cut a luxury lawn to 12 mm (1/2 in) in summer.