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Lawn care

How to cut the perfect lawn

By Ceri Thomas

Article 1 of 4

Cutting the grass for a lawn that will be a beautiful centrepiece in your garden is easy to do

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How to cut the grass

• Start by cutting around the edge of the lawn.
• Put the cable over your shoulder to keep it out of your way to avoid cutting through it accidentally. Always make sure it's connected to an RCD to prevent electrocution.
• Work from the left-hand side of the lawn, cutting up and down the length.
• A good tip is to slightly overlap the previous strip each time.
• Empty the collection box regularly otherwise it may drop clumps of clippings on the lawn.
• Finally, cut the edges with lawn shears or a Best Buy grass trimmer for a neat result.

What height should the lawn mower blades be?

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 is 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.

How do you mow stripes in a lawn?

To get stripes when you mow, you'll need a lawn mower with a roller as 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. 

A well-fed lawn also looks more lush and striped, so why not use one of our Best Buy lawn feeds.

Can you cut the grass if it's wet?

It's best to cut the grass when it's dry as wet grass clippings are harder for the mower to pick up and you're likely to get lumps of clippings left on the lawn. When Which? Gardening tests lawn mowers we give them a mark for how well they cut wet grass. You can find out which ones do well in our lawn mower reviews.

You should never cut frosty grass as you'll damage the grass and can leave marks wear you've been.

What is the best thing to do with grass clippings?

Some mowers offer a mulching function that cuts up the clippings very finely and pushes them back into the turf as a mulch so you don't need to pick them up.

Most 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 Which? Gardening tests lawn mowers, we mark them for how well they fill their grass-collection bag. Read our lawn mower reviews.

You can put grass clippings in your green-waste collection bin, although if you've used weedkiller on the lawn check the packaging to know how many cuts should go in the bin rather than recycling. 

You can also compost your grass clippings. When Which? Gardening magazine tested different methods of composting grass clippings, we found that 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 absorbed the liquid in grass clippings and prevented them turning slimy.

How often should the lawn be cut?

In the growing season between spring and early autumn, the lawn will be growing strongly and should be cut every week or even twice a week if possible. This will stop it growing too long and keep clippings to a minimum. 

Lawn mowers can struggle to cut long grass. When Which? Gardening tests lawn mowers, we mark them for how well they cut long grass. Read our lawn mower reviews.

In winter, grass only needs cutting very occasionally if there's been a mild spell of weather and it's grown again.