Steps to Mowing Efficiently

To mow the lawn most safely and efficiently, follow these steps.

Moist or dry lawn:

Avoid mowing on extremely wet or dry grass. If either is the case, it will diminish the mower’s traction and pose a risk. Wet grass can get caked and cause a slippery environment. Wait until the grass is dry before mowing, as mowing wet grass can encourage fungus spread.

Prepare the lawn:

Before starting, walk the yard, observe, and remove any hazards. Clear any debris from the property, such as rocks, water hoses, branches, fresh excrement, or toys. Look for any irrigation heads sitting too high or damaged and make a note and flag it. This precaution will prevent damage to the mower, property and ensure a smooth cutting process.

Personal Protective Equipment

Wear PPE (i.e., ear plugs, glasses, gloves) before starting this project.

Trim the edges first

Do not hold the trimmer closer to the ground than the lawn mower blades are cutting. Keep the height of the grass at 3-3.5″ at all times. Trimming shorter will invite weeds on the edges of the lawn. This lower height is a common mistake, so please avoid it.

When Mowing on a Slope

Take it slow and lower the speed to maintain control. Either mow up and down on a diagonal to reduce the possibility of slipping and rolling, or mow only uphill behind a walk-behind mower, then turn it off, walk down, and mow up again. This safety measure prevents you from tripping, slipping, skidding, and/or rolling downhill with a mower turned on and actively cutting. Start, stop, and turn on the most level ground possible and scope the area to consider where the safest place is to ascend and descend a hill.

Adjust the cutting height

Minnesota’s grass is Fine Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Tall fescue. Each of these needs to be cut no shorter than 3-3.5″ tall. If they are cut shorter, there will not be enough leaf blade for the photosynthesis process. Longer grass blades shade the ground and keep weed seeds from growing also. Also, never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade, as this will cause stress to the grass. Adjust the cutting height of the mower blades according to the recommended level. Cutting too low can stress the grass, while cutting too high may result in an uneven appearance.

Plan your mowing pattern:

Start by mowing along the perimeter of the lawn twice, creating a border. If cutting near landscape beds without bagging the clippings, blow the clippings towards the inside of the yard and away from the beds during the border mowing. (This prevents grass clippings and weed seeds from littering the beds.) Then, choose a design for the rest of the grounds. The most common patterns are mowing in straight lines or stripes (up and down or side to side, making a 180° turn to make the next pass) or mowing in alternating diagonal lines. Another option is circling the easiest and most efficient pattern. After mowing the edges, keep making passes in a circular pattern until you reach the middle of the yard. This method cuts down on all the sharp turns you’d make if you mow in rows. Following a pattern will help you cover the entire area without missing any spots. Alternate the direction each time you mow. (i.e., cut vertically one week and horizontally the following week.)

The mowing paths:

To ensure even coverage, overlap each pass slightly with the previous one. Overlapping will prevent uncut grass strips between rows and give the lawn a consistent appearance. Switch the mowing patterns out each time to prevent the grass from growing in one direction.

New lawn:

If the lawn is newly seeded, wait until the grass grows several inches before the first mow and only remove 1/3 of the grass blade. If it is a new lawn from sod, wait 2-3 weeks before mowing so the grass can root in place.


Blow all hard surfaces or anywhere with lawn debris or clippings. Remember to blow off the pathways, driveway, front stoops, patios, and decks.

Maintain your equipment:

Regularly maintain your mower by sharpening the blades, cleaning the underside, and changing the oil and spark plugs (if applicable). Proper maintenance will help your mower perform optimally and extend its lifespan. If you notice the grass blade edges where cut are zig-zagged with a rough edge, the blades need sharpening. These kinds of cuts can cause an opening and potential for diseases.

Follow safety precautions:

Always prioritize safety while mowing the lawn. Wear appropriate clothing, including closed-toe shoes and eye protection. Be cautious of any obstacles or uneven terrain that could risk tripping or injury.

Following these steps can efficiently cut a lawn while achieving a neat and professional-looking result.