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9 things you need to consider before mowing the lawn for the first time this year

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 3 days ago Emma-Louise Pritchard

a person sitting in a field of green grass: Tips on how to cut the lawn for the first time in spring, including grass preparation, the one third rule and electric lawnmowers. © todaydesign - Getty Images Tips on how to cut the lawn for the first time in spring, including grass preparation, the one third rule and electric lawnmowers. Spring has arrived, meaning that it's time to dust off your lawnmower and gardening tools to prepare for the season ahead.

Our garden lawns play an important part in our al fresco summer enjoyment – they host parties, provide a space to play, relax and read, and offer our borders and flora a plain backdrop from which they can shine.

Therefore, it's crucial we get the first mow of the year just right to set our lawns up for a summer of use. We asked Flymo to share their practical tips for cutting the lawn for the first time this year.

But first...

Don't mow all of your lawn. Choose the part you'd like to be neat and tidy but then let the rest stay a little messy. This is much better for wildlife and will encourage habitats to flourish throughout summer. You could even plant some wildflower seeds here and make it a real visual feature of your garden.

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"Don't mow all of your lawn. Find a corner of your garden where you can allow it to become, dare I say it, a little bit unkempt," emplores Chris Packham during an interview with Country Living about spring gardening. "That long grass will provide food for butterflies and other invertebrates and shelter for other animals – maybe even something as exciting as a hedgehog."

1. A pre-cut tidy

After months of being starved of sunshine, your garden may look a little neglected. It's important, before your lawn's first cut of the year, to take time to clear any mess including dead sticks, leaves and any rubbish that may have gathered.

Check to see what is hiding in the garden; the likes of stones and thick branches may have made their way into the overgrown lawn and if the lawnmower catches these, it can damage the mower blade. Keeping the mower blade sharp is vital as the damage a dull blade can cause could be detrimental to the grass.

2. Don't leave it too late

Although the difference in climate can vary depending on where you are in the country, research has shown that the first two weeks in April are the most popular time to dig the lawnmower out for the first time and give the garden a good trim.

a close up of a green grass covered field: lawn mowing © Billy Currie Photography - Getty Images lawn mowing

3. Use the one third rule

When cutting your lawn for the first time, you should always follow the one third rule: never cut more than a third of the blade of grass in one go. Cutting more than this can stress the grass.

You should gradually reduce the grass length over a number of weeks to reach the desired length. Cutting the grass too short, too fast, is known as 'scalping' which can lead to disease and weed infestation.

4. And if your grass is really out of control?

If your lawn has been a little unkempt throughout the colder months and has grown with a mind of its own then fear not, still follow the one third rule but take it in stages over a number of weeks. Gradually decrease the cutting height on your lawnmower each time to reach your preferred grass length.

But only apply this to the smaller area you'd like to maintain, as mentioned above. Embrace the wildness in the rest of the lawn and allow it to flourish.

a bowl of green grass: Front of wheelbarrow with grass clippings from the lawn © capecodphoto Front of wheelbarrow with grass clippings from the lawn 5. Contour your garden

Don't forget about the edges when cutting your lawn for the first time. Overgrown edges can look unsightly and can mean time and effort spent working in the garden has been in vain. Trim the edges straight after mowing.

6. Don't water immediately after

It's best to avoid getting into the habit of watering your lawn immediately after mowing. There is no specific point in the month to give your lawn a hose down – it should simply be done whenever it needs moisture – however, there are a few guidelines on what time it should be done during the day:

  • Watering late in the evening or at night can lead to fungal problems due to the fact the grass doesn't have time to dry out.
  • The middle of the day tends to be when the sun is at its hottest, which can lead to the water evaporating instantly or the droplets acting as a magnifying glass, burning the blades of grass.
  • Therefore, the best time is first thing in the morning as the air is cool and the water can travel to the roots before drying up.

7. Don't forget about new grass seeds

New grass that has been grown from the seed will be noticeably weaker than the rest of the lawn and can be easily damaged if cut incorrectly. It's best to wait until the grass has grown over three inches in length until mowing for the first time to allow it time to build up strength.

8. Make it a habit

Following your first cut of the season, you may need to mow the maintained part of your lawn once or twice a week to maintain the length you desire. This is due to the warm weather encouraging your garden to grow.

9. Choose your tool wisely

It's important to remember that no two lawns or gardens are the same even if they are side by side. Take into consideration the condition and size of your lawn, and your gardening needs when choosing the best tool for the job. Choose an electric lawnmower over a petrol one for the more eco-friendly option.

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