How to mow your lawn the right way

Keep your lawn healthy and mow it quicker with these tips.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read
Man Is Pushing Lawn Mower To Mow Grass
Konstantin Trubavin

No one wants to spend their weekend in the hot sun mowing the grass. If you go in with a plan, though, you can make your lawn care process quick and painless. Here are some tips on when to mow, how to mow and how to maintain your lawn mower that will have you enjoying a cold drink in lounge chair while admiring your beautiful lawn much faster.

Wait until the grass is dry

Lawn mowing in the early morning while it's still cool outside seems like a good idea, but if there's still dew on the ground, you can lose valuable time. More than likely, the wet grass will clump up in the discharge chute (that flappy thing on the side), requiring you to stop and remove the clog. Plus, your mower tires won't get great traction either.

Instead, wait until later in the morning when the dew dries, or mow the lawn late in the day before the evening dew. Also, time your sprinklers to start up in the late evening or at night so there isn't extra moisture on the grass when you mow. Here are some more watering tips for your lawn.

Read more: The gardening tips everyone needs to know.

Let the grass get long

If you're strict about your lawn and mow it the same very short height every few days, I've got news for you. It's better to let your grass grow.  

A lawn that's healthy during the hottest days of summer will be around 4 inches high after a cut. That may seem long, but taller grass retains more water and has longer, healthier roots. So, raise the deck on your lawn mower and let your grass grow longer before you cut.

Go slower

I know, your riding lawn mower has several speeds, from ultra-creeping to zipping around like an ATV. Even though it's tempting to go fast while mowing, it really doesn't save you any time. Speeding through the chore will leave some areas uncut and will give the lawn an uneven, sloppy look. Then you'll have to re-mow it to get the lawn to look right.

To save time, do it once and do it right. Keep the speed within the first four speed levels on your mower for the best results. Remember, the choke needs to be lower for slower speeds to run properly.


Keep your speeds low to make mowing go fast.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Mow in a pattern

Randomly mowing areas can cost you time and unnecessary work. Follow a pattern instead, using this technique:

  • Start on the edge of your lawn with the discharge chute pointing toward your lawn
  • Mow around the perimeter of your lawn
  • When you get to your starting point, make a U-turn so the discharge chute is facing the strip you just cut
  • Keep mowing around the perimeter, making sure the discharge chute is pointed toward where you just mowed.

In the end, your lawn will end up with a nice pattern and the discharge chute won't clog.

Watch this: How to Prep Your Lawn Mower for the Season

Prep your mower for next time

Getting your lawn mower ready for the next use right after you've mowed can save you time down the road. Always turn the mower over and rinse the blades and discharge chute with a garden hose before putting it away. This will prevent crusty grass build-up that is much harder to remove.

If the air filter on your push mower looks dirty, give it a good wash with some mild dish soap and rinse it with the garden hose. Set the filter aside to dry so you can put it on right before mowing next time.

One of the best time savers is keeping your lawn mower blade sharp. A dull blade will require you to go over the same patch of lawn more than once to cut any raggedy bits left behind. A sharp blade allows you to zip around your lawn just once and still get great results. Most mower repair shops will sharpen the blades for a small fee, or you can do it yourself with these tips.

How to Get Your Lawn Mower in Shape for the Summer

See all photos

Want to make watering your lawn easier? Here's CNET's guide to making your own automated lawn watering system.

Originally published March 30, 2018.
Update, March 21, 2019: Republished for spring 2019.