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Lawn Mowing Basics

Martha Stewart Living Television

Proper mowing gives a lawn vitality and definition, distinguishing it from an unkempt field. Proper mowing is necessary to keep your grass healthy and looking its best. It's important to mow your grass frequently, being very careful to never cut more than a third off the height of the grass with any cutting. If it's cut shorter than this, the grass will become distressed, and the lawn will suffer. Such damage most often occurs when people go on vacation -- they try to compensate for being away by cutting the lawn shorter than they usually would. Instead, arrange to have someone mow the grass while you're away.

The Lawn Mower
A lawn mower is the most important tool for keeping a lawn beautiful and healthy. Give your mower the regular maintenance it needs to do the job effectively. (Always employ this safety precaution: Whenever you're working on the underside of the mower, disconnect the spark plug to prevent the possibility of the lawn mower starting unexpectedly.)

Cleaning Tip
One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep a mower working well is to keep the underside free of caked-on grass. If kept clean, the airflow beneath the mower will be sufficient to lift the grass straight up and provide a better cut. The cleaning process couldn't be simpler: Disconnect the spark plug, then tilt the mower on its side, and scrape down the underside of the mower with a paint scraper.

Blade Care
Keeping the blade sharp will give you a consistently clean cut. Have the blade of a home mower sharpened a couple of times during the summer months. A garden shop equipped with a professional grinder will give the best results. How you get the blade there is up to you: You can either take the entire mower to the shop, or you can remove the blade yourself with a wrench. If you chose to remove the blade yourself, first unplug the spark plug, and be sure to wear a pair of sturdy work gloves to protect your hands whenever handling this sharp cutting instrument.

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