Deciding to dig up an old lawn and start over, or turn over a patch of land to create a lawn is a big decision. To get it right, you need to prepare the soil properly, choose the right type of grass for your situation, and most importantly, know when to mow new grass. If you get it all right, a lawn is a great low-maintenance landscaping choice.
If you’re having trouble knowing when to mow new grass, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know.
Knowing when to mow new grass doesn’t have to be difficult.
Starting a lawn from seeds
You can start a new lawn by laying sod or sowing seeds. Although starting from seed takes longer, it is often more affordable.
Before sowing the seeds, take the time to dig and weed the soil. There are a number of good tools described here that can help you completely clean the area of weeds. If your base soil is heavy or clayey, work on amendments to improve and lighten it before sowing your grass seeds.
Rake the soil before sowing the seeds. Collect the seeds before compacting the soil. This ensures that most of the seeds stay put and take root. The time it takes for seeds to germinate may vary depending on the type of seeds you have sown. In general, seeds can take between 5 and 30 days to germinate.
Applying lawn fertilizer before sowing also helps the seeds settle and germinate. Usually germination is faster in warm or light positions. Plus, keeping the soil moist helps stimulate germination.
When to water
Humidity plays a key role in the growth of your seeds. It also affects when to mow new grass. Correct watering promotes root growth and development. Start off on the right foot and your lawn will thrive.
Watering the soil and seeds regularly helps soften the shells. This makes it easier for the roots to break through, increasing the chances of the seeds germinating.
In addition, fresh or young shoots rarely have the root system to survive a period of drought. Continue to water your lawn regularly after germination to ensure healthy, strong growth and deep roots. Deep roots are important because they affect the height of your lawn.
A hose or sprinkler is a good way to soak both the lawn and the soil below.
Use a hose to keep the soil moist. Too much water can drown the seeds. However, too little water can cause the soil and seedlings to dry out and fail. This means that it is important to get the right amount of water that you are giving your lawn. Try to keep the top inch of the soil evenly moist. In warmer or sunny places, this can mean watering as often as twice a day.
Continue to water your seeded lawn at least once a day until after the first mowing.
Starting a new lawn from sod
As with growing from seeds, preparation is the key to success. Prepare the ground, weed it and level it before laying the grass.
Starting a lawn from sod may be faster than growing from seed, but it still requires regular care.
During the first 2 weeks, freshly laid sod is particularly vulnerable. Until the roots grow and become established, the grass can only access water in the top few inches of the soil. This means that you should water your lawn at least once a day for the first fortnight. When watering, be sure to soak the grass well, allowing water to seep into the soil. During hot periods, you may need to water the lawn twice a day.
To check for soil moisture, lift a corner of the grass. The soil under the grass should be moist but not soggy. Overwatering can drown and kill the lawn.
Watering the lawn regularly can take a lot of water. Harvesting your own rainwater, for use in the garden, is a great way to reduce your water use.
After a week to 10 days, the grass should start to take root. As the roots form, you can gradually reduce the amount of water you apply. First, reduce watering to once every two days. After 4 weeks, you should not water the newly laid sod more than twice a week.
Once the roots have formed, wait about 3 weeks of steady growth before reaching the lawn mower. To check when to mow new grass, pull back on the sod. If it lifts up, let it grow a little longer and the roots continue to form. If only a few clippings come off your hand, the lawn is ready to be mowed.
When to mow new grass
Allow about 8 weeks of steady growth before you even consider mowing your fresh lawn. Don’t be tempted to mow new grass before it is 3 inches in height. Mowing too early means you run the risk of pulling out new growth, ruining all your hard work up to that point.
When mowing new grass, it is important that you follow proper cutting techniques.
How to mow new grass
Almost as important as knowing when to mow new grass is knowing how to do it correctly. Get it right, and you’ll prepare your lawn for a long, healthy life.
The first mowing of new grass should be nothing more than a light cut.
Before cutting, make sure your mower blades are sharp. Keeping the blades sharp helps keep the roots deep and healthy. Ideally, lawn mower blades should be sharpened after 20 hours of use. This also applies if you are using lawn shears with a long handle.
Most local hardware stores sharpen lawn mower blades for a small price. If you are serious about maintaining a lush, healthy lawn, then a lawn mower blade sharpener kit is a worthwhile investment.
Before you start mowing new grass, take the time to check the height of your mower’s blades. Try to keep the blades at a good height. Follow the rule ⅓ help. The rule of thumb is simply that when mowing an established lawn, never remove more than a third of the height of the blade. So if your lawn is 6 inches long, cut no more than 2 inches.
Only mow your lawn when it is dry. Do not cut the lawn after rain or watering. Wet blades of grass can easily tear or get tangled in the blades. Wait for the lawn to dry to reduce the risk of it being pulled out by its roots. You should also avoid mowing the lawn during hot periods or if it is frozen.
When you start mowing new grass, don’t cut it too low.
For the first cut, set the mower to the highest setting. You should never remove more than 20% of the lawn during the first cut. This light cut encourages the formation of more shoots at the base of the lawn, helping to thicken it.
Cut the grass slowly, turning gently to prevent delicate seedlings from being pulled up. Remember that young roots are still developing and are not as deep or strong as older or more established roots.
After mowing, the clippings can be left in place as long as they do not clump together. This returns the nutrients to the soil. Leaving cut grass on the lawn also helps the lawn to retain moisture. If there are weeds sowing, you will need to wrap and discard the clippings. Otherwise, clippings are an ideal addition to the compost bin.
After cutting new grass for the first time, don’t let the lawn get too long and cut it hard. This can be stressful on the lawn and cause brown spots to appear. It is much better for the health of your lawn to mow it regularly.
Gradually reduce the height of the lawn mower blades over several cuts until you reach the ideal height. Remember to be gentle when cutting.
Once established, try to keep your lawn about 3 inches tall. This height not only helps keep the lawn and root system healthy, but also crowds out unwanted weeds. Some ryegrass-based lawns such as Garden Lawn or Jubilee are designed to be maintained at a height of 1.5 inches. Allowing them to grow a little longer than that can make your lawn more durable and better able to cope with disease, drought and frost.
Knowing when to mow new grass is essential if you want to grow a fresh, healthy lawn.
Remember to clean the mower after each use.
Change the mowing direction each time – if you cut north to south one week, next time cut east to west. Changing direction regularly helps prevent graining. It is the term used to describe a lawn that appears to grow entirely in one direction.
Cheaper than synthetic turf, laying a new lawn can take time, but your efforts quickly pay off with a lush, green maintenance lawn. It can be difficult to know when to mow new grass. But if you do it right, you can prepare your lawn for a long, healthy life.