As winter fades into brisk breezes and chilly nights, our grass begins to reveal itself. If we didn’t mow enough in the fall, perhaps what we are seeing is not so much grass as stringy brown stuff lying flat on the ground in patches. But if we took care to mow and fertilize in the autumn, the grass that peaks through snow and cold ground will be green and it will hold the potential for lushness.
So as we let spring take full hold of the year, we watch our lawn closely. Some parts of the lawn seem to be coming in better than others and within a few weeks of moderately sunny and warm days, our yard looks like a man who has had spotty success with Rogaine. The question arises at this point of when we should mow our lawn for the first time.
However, that’s not the only question that we should ponder as we approach mowing our lawn for the first time in spring. Here are the various issues that we need to consider before we fire up our mower for the first great grass clipping of the new season.
Before you go to cut the grass, the first thing that needs to be done is determining whether the ground can take the beating. No matter what mower you use, the wheels are going to be heavy and hard, and this can be a real issue for soft, wet topsoil. Thus, you need to decide if the topsoil is hard enough to not have ruts formed in it from the wheels of your mower.
Not only will ruts form if the ground is too wet and soft, the grass roots which are only just establishing themselves again might come loose. This will result in spotty bald patches.
The rule of thumb here is that your ground should not give in much, or at all, to your feet. So go take a walk on your yard. Put one of your feet firmly on the ground and then push down hard. If a depression forms, let your yard dry out for another few days to a week.
The next thing to consider is the height of the grass before you cut it. You always want to make sure that you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass’s height off when you mow. So if you can’t cut that much green off the grass without exposing a bunch of brown, don’t mow. If you mow too early and cut those new grass shoots too short, basically you will be exposing your grass to disease and weather extremes.
This is actually a consideration for any time of the year, but even more so for the first cut. Unless you allow your grass to get a foot tall, your grass roots will still be reestablishing themselves when you first mow. If you do this mowing with a dull blade, you will be battering the grass and yanking it out instead of cutting it.
So take the blade off the mower and go by a knife and mower sharpener. Get that sucker sharpened up like mad and you will be ready to treat your lawn to the sweetest mowing it’s ever had.
Mulch or Rake
Many people like to mulch their grass clippings right into the lawn as they mow. I am one of them, but for my first mowing, I prefer to mow and gather up the clippings. I actually like to rake after that, in order to remove any excessive thatch build-up.
It would be best if you gather your grass clippings for this first mowing, so that your lawn can get the oxygen it needs after a long winter of hibernation. If you don’t want to rake, that’s fine, but you should consider it. Raking will remove dead detritus that is smothering new grass and will also promote new growth.
After mowing your grass for the first time, you might decide it’s time to fertilize. This is a fine idea, but you need to be sure you do so carefully. Early spring temperatures might be too low for some fertilizers to work properly. The other concern is that if you use too much fertilizer for your newly nascent lawn to handle, you could burn the new growth.
So I recommend fertilizing a few days after you mow so that your grass is hardened up a little and you have some more brand new growth. This is also a good time to lay down some weed killer if you want to nip weeds like spurge and dandelions in the bud. Pun intended.
With the right care and timing, this season’s lawn can be a lush carpet of grass that invites bare feet. With the wrong timing, you may need to find some Rogaine for your lawn. Which would you prefer?