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Mowing and lawn maintenance

Mowing is the job of cutting the grass regularly to keep your lawn tidy and healthy. Cutting the grass encourages strong growth and finer grasses for a smooth, even lawn. The average lawn will need 30 cuts a year, but bear in mind that the less you cut your lawn, the slower it will grow. Your lawn will also benefit from some annual or on-going maintenance.

In this section, there is general information on how you can make mowing and lawn maintenance easier, and details of some tools that you might find helpful.

There is additional information on mowing and lawn maintenance: sitting down and from a wheelchair; with sight loss; with a weak grip; with one hand; if you can't bend easily

Top tips to make mowing easier

  • If you have a close-cropped lawn it will need more frequent mowing. A longer 1-inch cut shouldn’t need mowing more than once a week in summer. Lawns cut level with the path are easier to mow and try to plan the direction of mowing to avoid unnecessary turning, reversing or overlapping.
  • Hard-wearing, slow-growing grass varieties are best if you are sowing a new lawn and avoid a fussy lawn shape with sharp curves as it will be more time consuming to maintain.
  • Clover, daisies and other ‘weeds’ will keep your lawn greener in dry weather and leaving them in place will mean that you don’t have to spend time weeding.
  • If you prefer to trim the edges of your lawn by hand, try kneeling on a comfortable kneeler or pad and use grass shears or battery powered shears – both are available as one-handed tools.
  • Edging with one handed shears
    If you use a wheelchair, it can be a good idea to reinforce the lawn. You can do this by laying semi-rigid netting, such as Netlon Turfguard, which allows the grass to grow through.
  • Edging the lawn is easier if you can use an electric strimmer (fitted with a residual circuit breaker). You can also try using one-handed grass shears or battery powered (rechargeable) one-handed shears.
  • If you can’t cope with mowing the whole lawn, mow pathways, and leave the rest of the grass longer. Or perhaps consider reducing the size of your lawn.
  • If you find the upkeep of your lawn difficult, consider replacing it with an area of paving, or other hard surface. 

Taking care when mowing

  • Mowing
    Using a mower can put a strain on the back, legs and arms. Mow a stretch at a time, and don’t overdo it. Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.
  • Modern electric mowers need two-handed control and a constant grip, which can strain the hands. Emptying the grass box, raking, spiking and feeding the lawn are extra jobs that can strain the back and arms. Do a little at a time and take regular breaks. 
  • If you can only walk slowly, avoid a power-driven mower unless it has reliable speed control.
  • All electrical equipment should be fitted with a residual circuit breaker.
  • If you prefer kneeling or sitting to cut the edges of your lawn, use a comfortable kneeler or seat, keep your back straight and cut a small section at a time to avoid stretching too far.  

Equipment and tools for mowing the lawn

  • To start most new electric powered mowers you have to press and hold in a safety button before you can then start the mower with a lever. On many models this can only be done using two hands at once, so try out controls before you buy.  
  • A strong wheelchair user can often manage a light hover mower but remember that it needs to be carried, rather than wheeled into place.
  • If you don’t have much strength, or are unsteady on your feet, avoid petrol mowers. These are powerful and the ‘pull’ start action can cause strain.  
  • Cylinder blade mowers give the best finish, but are not so good on long or damp grass.
  • A wheeled electric rotary mower is relatively easy to manoeuvre with few maintenance demands.
  • Depending on your disability, a ride-on mower might be a good solution for mowing a larger lawn.
  • A lawn mower with grass box reduces the amount of debris in the lawn, and the need to scarify and sweep.
  • Battery-powered mowers don’t have cables to worry about and might be an option for you as they are gradually coming down in weight and in price. 
  • Automatic and Robotic mowers are now available from around £600 upwards. Although they are expensive, once they are set up they require little or no effort to use.
  • You can cut trips to empty the grass box with a mulch mower, which reduces the cuttings to a fine mulch.

Have a look at the list of equipment and tools for mowing after the information on lawn maintenance.

 

Lawn maintenance

There are specialist companies that offer seasonal lawn maintenance and use machinery to quickly weed, feed, aerate and scarify your lawn. This can be a cost effective solution as it saves you the expense of buying equipment that will only be used once or twice a year – it also saves a lot of time and effort.

 However, if you can invest some time and effort in maintaining your lawn, here is some helpful tips and information on equipment and tools.

Aerating 

This is spiking or puncturing the lawn with a garden fork or specialist tool to improve drainage and allow air to the roots. Lawns usually need aerating once a year– particularly if the soil is heavy and more likely to get compacted. 

You can reduce the need to aerate the lawn by not walking on it in wet weather, not using a heavy mower, and not rolling the lawn.  

Aerating the lawn by pressing the tines of a garden fork or aerator into the soil can strain the back, arms and hands as you lift the tool out.  Always 'warm up' with a few gentle stretches, do a little at a time, and keep your back straight.

  • Choose one of the lighter stainless steel border forks to aerate the lawn.
  • A lawn spiker with hollow tines aerates the lawn and removes small plugs of soil as you go. There are versions with two or four tines on a crossbar with a long bar-style handle.  You can use this tool without bending.
  • A light rotary aerating machine can be pushed along like a lawn mower to spike the lawn. It might take some forward pressure to push.
  • If you have strong legs, you can aerate the lawn by walking over it wearing spiked boards that fit over your shoes. 

Scarifying

This is raking the lawn hard with a spring-tined lawn rake to remove the build up of old waste matter, or ‘thatch’. This allows in light, air and moisture for grasses to thrive and is usually needed annually.

Scarifying is the most arduous lawn maintenance task, using a spring-tined lawn rake. Lifting, dropping and dragging the rake can jolt the arms and strain the back. It can take strength to draw the rake towards you. Always warm up with a few gentle stretches, do a little at a time, and keep your back straight.

  • Some mowers can be fitted with a scarifying tool so that you don’t need to rake the lawn to remove old matter.
  • A spring-tined lawn rake is best for clearing lawn ‘thatch‘ – although a stiff ‘besom’ broom can work for some people. 

Feeding

A high-nitrogen feed in spring improves grass growth.  Feeding with a higher-phosphorus feed in the autumn encourages root development.

  • A wheeled lawn feed applicator gives an even distribution of lawn feed and is particularly useful if you walk with a stick or use a wheelchair. You can also apply one of the mixes of feed and weedkiller in this way.
  • Soluble feed or weedkiller can be applied using a spray attachment on your hose, or pump-spray and lance.


Automatic lawnmower  

Automatic lawnmower

This battery-powered rotary mower works on its own, cutting your lawn and mulching the cuttings. The set-up on the lawn includes pegging a thin wire around the perimeter to guide the mower.

Find out more about automatic lawnmower


Light hover mower  

Light hover mower

This is the lightest hover mower currently available. It has swing-back plastic safety blades and two cutting heights.

Find out more about light hover mower


One-handed lawn shears  

One-handed lawn shears

The blades can be adjusted to cut vetically for edging the lawn and horizontally for trimming the grass. These shears can be used with one hand.

Find out more about one-handed lawn shears


Battery powered shears with extension handle  

Battery powered shears with extension handle

These shears can be used with a telescopic extension handle for trimming the lawn, and without the handle for trimming hedges. The blades rotate from horizontal to vertical.

Find out more about battery powered shears with extension handle