Mowers are not all created equal. Mowing is much more than pushing a mower around cutting grass.
The homeowner does not necessarily have to push the mower. They can just let it pull itself or ride as the mower does all the work. There are gas power mowers, electric mowers and battery powered mowers that will all accomplish the same thing, cutting grass.
Modern mowing machines are of two basic types: reel mower and rotary mower. Rotary mowers are popular with homeowners because of their low cost and relative ease of maintenance. Their disadvantages are that they are generally restricted to lower maintained turf and that they cut the grass by chopping the blade. This spinning blade can easily throw debris hidden in the grass, which may injure the operator or bystanders.
The reel mower generally provides a finer cut, particularly on closely mown grass such as found on golf courses and highly maintained lawns. As a rule, the lower the mowing height, the more blades will be found on the reel and the faster the reel is operated. Reel mowers are safer than rotary mowers, but still must be treated with safety.
Grasses do not thrive on mowing, they tolerate it. It is easy to look at a beautiful, healthy lawn and assume that mowing is good for the grass. Mowing always causes stress on the grass plant. It cuts through the outer skin of the plant and may allow fungal organisms to enter. It removes tissue from the plant that would otherwise be able to undergo photosynthesis, thereby reducing the plant’s ability to produce the carbohydrates that it needs to function.
Grasses are the best equipped plants to tolerate mowing. The grasses that are used as turf can be mowed because of their middle leaf growth and the existence of buds that can reproduce new plants from the crown and nodes of lateral stems.
The effect of mowing green leaves is to starve the plant. A select group of grasses (bermudagrass) have the ability to increase their density below the mowing height that can offset the loss of carbohydrates through increased density. The greater the density, the greener the leaves are able to produce the food materials that the plant needs.
The lower the mowing height the greater the stress. When grass is mowed at extremely lower heights, such as a golf green, it is under considerable stress due to the constant leaf removal. Grass mowed at a low mowing height is not as competitive with weeds and is more susceptible to the diseases that attack grasses.
As a rule, not more than 33 to 40 percent of the aboveground leaves should be removed in a single mowing. Removal of more than 40 percent of the leaves can stop root growth for a period ranging from six days to more than two weeks. If the mowing height is lowered slowly, over a few weeks, the grass can adapt to the decreased height.
Scalping occurs when the mowing height decreases to quickly that the turf does not have a chance to adapt to change. In stress periods of summer, scalping can seriously damage or even kill the grass.
Mowing frequency varies with mowing height. The lower the mowing height, the more frequently the area must be mowed. The higher the mowing height, the less frequently the area must be mowed. A lawn mowed at 2 inches will usually require mowing about once a week, or with the right amount of moisture and fertilizer, every five days.
Mowing direction can be an important consideration in eliminating mower tracks. Mowing right and left, up and down and at an angle or just a different direction will eliminate soil compaction and wear from wheel tracks.