You can water and fertilize your lawn, but still end up with a unsightly lawn if you don't mow properly. Here are some tips to help make your yard look great.
Cutting the grass too short
Every grass type has an optimal cutting height, and you're better off on the high side. The reasons are the grass blade is the food factory of the plant. Short blades just can't generate as much food as long blades. Long blades also shade and cool the soil. With longer grass it is less likely weeds will grow, and you won't have to water as often because water won't evaporate as fast. If you are not sure what type of grass you have take a sample to a garden center for identification.
Mulch your lawn
It is better to mulch your grass clippings instead of bagging. They'll release nutrients into the soil and form a mulch to help keep moisture in the soil. The only reason to capture the clippings is if you've waited too long to mow. Piles of clippings created from cutting long grass can smother the grass beneath.
Use a self-propelled mower
Self-propelled mowers deliver a smoother cut because the cutting speed stays consistent, and all four wheels are more likely to stay on the ground when hitting a bump or going up hills.
Mow with sharp blades
Dull mower blades rip through the grass blades instead of cutting them cleanly. Dull blades cause stress to the grass. You can always tell a lawn that's been mowed with a dull blade because it looks brown on the top. Get on your hands and knees and you can actually see the damage.
Cut short before winter
Just this one time of the year, set your mower to cut 1-1/2 or 2 in. and mow your grass short. That'll do a couple of things. First, it'll lessen the likelihood of snow mold. And second, tall grass blades won't lie down
Cut long grass twice
If you missed a week of cutting your grass, don't cut it down all at once. Cut off some of the length and then wait a couple days and mow again. This will cause less stress on the grass. You may need three passes depending on how long the grass grew.
Change the pattern
Mow in a different direction every time: front to back, back to front, diagonal, etc. Repeatedly mowing the exact same way will cause the grass blades to grow at an angle, and you may develop permanent tracks from the mower wheels.
Don't mow wet grass
Mowing a yard after a hard rain can cause the mower wheels to leave ruts in your yard. You could also leave behind giant clumps of clippings that could smother the grass beneath. Also, the wet grass will carpet the underside of your mower deck with a thick mat.