A landscaper weighs in.

It's more than just a style choice: The direction in which you cut your grass actually has an impact on both the health and well-being of your lawn. According to David Morello, a garden designer and founder of David Morello Garden Enterprises, directionality (and, more specifically, how often you switch up the direction of your cuts) can make or break your turf. Here, his best advice on the subject.

mowing lawn on sunny afternoon
Credit: Getty / Cavan Images

The direction in which you mow matters.

Everyone wants a sumptuous lawn, and maintaining a regular mowing schedule may be the key to getting yours to the best possible place. "The mow direction, besides its ornamental purpose, unquestionably plays a significant role by keeping the grass upright and firm," Morello says. When you alternate, you prevent your grass from growing in just one direction, which could lead to a lawn that looks pushed over.

The length does, too.

It's possible to cut your grass too short, which can result in dead or dried-out patches that look unsightly. To prevent this, make sure the blade of your mower is set to the right height. "Your grass type sets the height of the cut, however leaving a height two-and-a-half to three inches of grass is a good rule of thumb," he says, adding that higher, not lower, should be your default setting. "In other words, you should remove no more than one-third of the grass height per cut." The goal is to give your lawn a trim (not a full-blown cut—hence the importance of said mowing schedule), and you will want to leave your clippings behind as mulch. "It is best to not bag the clippings, as they provide nutrients on a consistent basis," Morello adds. Just make sure you are keeping up on your mower's maintenance. Your blades need to be sharp in order to achieve a clean cut and to avoid problems and pathogens in the future (he suggests checking them regularly to make sure they are in tip-top shape).

Time it right.

During a rainy season, it can be hard to get your mowing done between storms, but Morello says it is worth the extra effort to avoid mowing when your grass is wet. "The best time to mow would be mid-morning, when the irrigation water or dew has dried, or late afternoon, when the sun is not as intense," he says.

Keep your lawn fed.

The key to a good-looking cut? Having a healthy lawn to begin with. Morello says you can accomplish this by regularly feeding and watering your lawn—just make sure you are not giving it too much of either. "The proper amounts are critical," he says. "Never over water." If your lawn is not happy, you will be able to tell; it will thin and look less healthy. And when it comes to fertilization, a consistent program is best. "The two most important times to apply a good quality fertilizer are fall and spring," explains Morello, who recommends aerating your lawn before you apply the spring fertilizer, and using a formula that is compost based.


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