The lawn takes centre stage in most gardens. When your lawn looks good, the whole garden looks good – but there are a couple of tricks that make things a little bit easier. Our expert guide explains how to cut the perfect lawn.
To help you keep your garden looking its best throughout the year, we've pulled together some top tips on how to cut your grass, making sure to explain the ideal height for your mower blades and how often you need to repeat the process.
Keep scrolling and you'll also spot our handy lawn care checklist, split by season so you know what you need to do whether it's a toasty summer or a chilly winter.
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Before you start mowing, have a look around the garden and pick up any loose pebbles or small sticks. Without doing so, you risk debris striking your mower blades, which could damage the machine and cause injury if the materials are propelled back out.
If you're using a corded mower, place the cable over your shoulder to avoid cutting through it. Always make sure it's connected to an RCD (residual current device) to prevent electrocution.
Choose appropriate footwear: sandals and flip flops don't offer enough protection; steel-toe boots are the best for protecting your toes from serious injury. You might also want to wear eye protection in case stones fly up and a pair of sturdy gardening gloves.
Now you're ready to begin cutting. We suggest you start by cutting around the edge of your lawn, taking care not to snag any plants you might have at the side of your garden.
When you're mowing the sides of your lawn, try to avoid standing on the edge (where the grass meets your flowerbed) as this can damage the edge.
Cut up and down the full length of your lawn, overlapping the previous strip each time so you don't miss any spots.
Empty the collection box regularly or it may drop clumps of clippings on the lawn.
Finally, you can cut the edges of your lawn with shears or a grass trimmer for a neat result.
The height of the blades on most mowers can be easily adjusted using a lever, although on some hover mowers you'll need to add or remove spacers, which is a bit more fiddly.
At the start of the mowing season in spring, set the blades high then gradually lower them over the weeks, until you reach the main cutting height of 25mm. Cutting lower than this can result in a lawn that's weakened and more susceptible to drought and other problems.
For luxury lawns that don't get used much, you can cut as low as 12mm in summer.
To get stripes when you mow, you'll need a lawn mower with a roller; this will squash the grass flat after the mower cuts it. Hover mowers never have rollers, but most other types of mowers can have rollers, although it depends on the individual model.
When cutting stripes, it's important to mow up and down the lawn to get the neat effect you want. The stripes are created by the light reflecting off the grass blades. Grass facing towards you looks dark, while grass facing away from you looks light. The contrast of the two creates the stripes.
Longer grass creates the best effect as the grass blades bend further than shorter grass.
It's best to cut the grass when it's dry. Wet grass clippings are harder for the mower to pick up and you're likely to get lumps of clippings left on the lawn. For every lawn mower that we test, we check how well the machine cuts wet grass.
You should never cut frosty grass as you'll damage the grass and can leave marks where you've been.
Some mowers offer a mulching function that cuts up clippings and pushes them back into the turf so you don't need to pick them up.
Most lawn mowers have a collection bag or box that fills with clippings as you mow. Many have an indicator so that you can easily check how full the bag is and whether it needs to be emptied. When testing lawn mowers, we mark them for how well each model fills its grass-collection bag.
You can put grass clippings in your green-waste collection bin, although if you've used weedkiller on the lawn you usually have to cut it a certain number of times before the cuttings are safe to put in the compost bin. This will be stated on the weedkiller's label.
You can also compost your grass clippings. It's best to either add leaves from deciduous trees (at a ratio of one part leaves to one part grass clippings), or to add soil at the same ratio. Both methods absorb the liquid in grass clippings and prevent them from turning slimy.
In the growing season between spring and early autumn, your lawn will be growing strongly and should be cut every week or even twice a week if possible. This will stop it from growing too long and keeps clippings to a minimum.
In winter, grass only needs cutting very occasionally if there's been a mild spell of weather and it's grown again.
Grass gets a lot of wear over the warmer months, so make sure your lawn is in top condition.
Getting your lawn in shape after a busy summer of heavy usage is well worth the effort.
The best strategy is normally to leave the lawn alone during winter, but there are some jobs that are good to do.