Best Practices for Mowing in Minnesota
Mowing your Minnesota lawn can seem like a daunting task. It can be time-consuming, usually requires some labor, and small details like grass length and fertilizer can be difficult to remember. Luckily, the Minnesota lawn mowing experts at Rainbow Lawncare have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (and their answers!), so you have the best practices guide to refer to when mowing your lawn!
Why is Proper Mowing Important?
Proper lawn mowing increases root depth, reduces weeds, and helps your grass resist diseases and insects. However, mowing improperly can be detrimental to your lawn. It can increase the need for water and fertilizer, along with weak, shallow root systems and decreased drought tolerance.
Minnesota Lawn Mowing at a Glance
- Plan to mow from late April to early November
- Never cut more than ⅓ of the blade at a time
- Keep your blade sharp
- Mulch grass clippings for free fertilizer!
- Do not mow when the grass is wet
- Protect your eyes and feet; be sure kids and pets are indoors
How short should I cut my grass?
Our Minnesota mowing experts recommend never removing more than ⅓ of the grass blade. If more is taken, the grass plants will take energy away from their roots as they try to regain the lost leaf. This weakens your lawn, making it less tolerant of drought and more susceptible to disease and weeds. If your lawn gets away from you, mow several times with a few days in between each mowing. This gives your grass a chance to heal between cuttings and reduces stress on your lawn.
What are the benefits of taller grass height?
- Promotes deeper root growth, as the grass plants have long enough blades to make enough food through photosynthesis
- Decreases the likelihood of weeds germinating by crowding them out
- Requires less water because the taller grass keeps the soil shaded, reducing the amount of water lost through evaporation
Why is it important to mow with a sharp blade?
Mowing is a violent action, but you can minimize the damage done by making sure your mower blade is sharp.
- Dull blades rip and bruise the grass, leaving it frayed and battered. These frayed ends will discolor, giving your lawn a tan or brown appearance. They also provide diseases with a point of entry.
- If you are unsure about how to sharpen your mower blade, check your owner’s manual.
- Pro tip: Buy an extra blade, so you always have a sharp one on hand if one is chipped or is at the shop getting sharpened.
Is it better to bag or mulch my grass clippings?
Leaving the grass clippings on your lawn provides you with free fertilizer. They are an excellent source of nitrogen and can help your grass recover from the mowing process. Grass clippings generally degrade back into the soil within a week or two. Using a mulching mower speeds this process and more evenly distributes the cut grass.
How often should I mow my lawn?
Grass grows at different rates according to the season and the weather. Mowing once or twice a week may be needed during peak growing conditions in the spring and fall, and once every seven to ten days may suffice during hot and dry summer weather.
When should I start mowing my lawn in Minnesota? How late should I mow into the fall?
In Minnesota, you can usually begin mowing in late April and continue as needed into early November. There is a growing movement to avoid mowing too early in spring to provide undisturbed habitat for pollinators. Studies have shown neighborhoods with residents who volunteered to wait to mow until after May, had a fivefold increase in the variety of bees found there.
Does it matter what direction I mow my lawn? Should I use a pattern?
To avoid training your grass to lay in one direction and possibly looking less attractive or lush, mow in a new direction each time. A fancy ballpark pattern might look great, but it will add time. Consider a happy medium for variety, for example, working from north to south one time then reversing your mowing direction the next time. For best results keep backward motions to a minimum, as lawn mowers are designed to make optimal cuts working forward.
Is it okay to mow my lawn when it’s wet?
It is best to mow when your grass is dry. While it makes sense to work early in the day before it gets too hot, wait until morning frost or dew has dried. Working when the lawn is wet, and therefore softer, can cause damage to your mower from soil compaction or by tearing the turf or carving ruts.
Environmentally Friendly Tips for Greener Minnesota Mowing
- Avoid spills. More than 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled each year as lawn care equipment is refilled. Use safe gas containers, pour slowly, and tightly seal gas tank covers.
- Keep your gas mower well maintained, including regular oil and air filter changes. Four-stroke engines produce less pollution than two-stroke engines.
- Consider an eco-friendly push mower for smaller yards—or electric or solar-powered options.
Always wear close-toed shoes or boots when mowing, and work across slopes to avoid slipping and falling under the mower. Eye protection such as sunglasses is also recommended. To avoid damaging your blade or worse, sending a dangerous chunk of rock or wood flying, it’s a good idea to walk the yard and remove debris before you mow. Finally, be sure kids and pets are inside while you mow, as it can be difficult to hear them approach over the noise of the mower.
Believe it or not, a rock hit by a lawnmower blade can have the same impact as a bullet shot from a .357 Magnum revolver. This premise was confirmed in a 2015 episode of the show MythBusters, appropriately titled Accidental Ammo.
Rather not mow your lawn?
If you’d rather not have to mow your lawn regularly, we’ve got you covered. Rainbow Lawncare now offers a no-mow lawn seeding solution. With this seeding solution, you’ll drastically reduce the number of times you’ll have to mow your lawn during the warmer months! In addition, our no-mow lawn has the added benefit of requiring less maintenance and watering.