Those of you with kids know the anxiety and excitement with getting your child’s hair cut for the first time. You wanted it to be done just right, and for it to be a good experience for both you and your baby. Of course, when we say “baby”, we’re not talking about infants needing the baby mullet trimmed, but rather our “baby”, our lawn.
The first cut, or mowing, of the year is an important experience for your lawn each year. The first mowing takes place at some time in April each spring. Just as you wouldn’t just take Jr. into the barber and let them rip-in with a clippers with no direction, you should also have a plan on the first cut of the year for your lawn.
If your barber or hairstylist would whip out a rusty, old dull pair of scissors, you’d be appalled. Don’t do that to your “baby” either. Make sure your lawn mower is properly ready for “baby’s” first cut. This is a brief checklist of how to prepare your mower for the first mowing of Spring:
Sharpen the blade. If you can’t do this yourself, find a local service shop to do this for you. Make sure your blade is sharp, or the mower will rip off the tops of the grass blades instead of giving them a clean cut.
Make sure the mower is leveled. If you have a walk-behind mower, make sure all the wheels are adjusted to the same height. If you have a riding mower with air-filled tires, make sure they are properly inflated and of equal pressure. Check the deck of the mower to make sure it is properly adjusted to give a nice level cut. Not having a level mower means you will leave crooked mowing patterns in your lawn.
Just take off a little. When Jr. got his first hair cut, the best thing to do would be to take a little off at a time, and then decide if more is needed. The same is true for your lawn. Make sure you aren’t scalping your lawn. No matter what time of year you are mowing, the best practice for mowing is to only remove 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Set your mower on its highest setting and take a test mow in part of the lawn. If you need to adjust it down lower, do so at small increments.
Don’t wait too long for the next cut. Obviously, you wouldn’t get your child’s hair cut once a year. Attentive parents notice when their baby’s hair needs another trim and make a point to get them back to the shop for their next trim. Do the same for your other “baby”. Remember, the best practice is to mow so that you are only taking off 1/3 of the grass blade. This may mean that in a spring with abundant rainfall, you may need to mow more than once a week. We’ve noticed that some of the nicest looking lawns are mowed every 3-5 days in the spring. This keeps them looking nice and green, and also prevents clumps of grass clipping to be left behind.