All About The Landscape Daily

What Is The Most Efficient Way To Mow?

Nov 3


This is an ancient bit of wisdom that I vaguely remember from my childhood. Now that I have a lawn that seems happy established, I want to keep it that way. It's a myth. I'd love to find out if it is true.


For example, whenever you mow your lawn, you should change the direction. You might travel north/south for one mowing and east/west for the next.

If you look at freshly mown grass, it is obvious which way the mower went. This lends credibility to this idea.


Benefits of Mowing

However, I cannot see any benefit for the plants. They're still happily growing up after a few days. With a motorized spinning blade, I don't understand how one could claim that a knife was cut "this" anyway.


Do you think something is missing? Are there any benefits to the plants? Is it a quirk in reel mowers that made it true in the past? If so, are they still true today?


  • I mow in circles. I don't know if that would work, but I think it would.
  • This advice is for those with striped lawns. Use a mower with a small roller at the back. If you continue to mow similarly, ridges can form between the stripes. That's what the mower is designed to prevent. It's not a problem if you have a rotary lawnmower with a spinnable blade. I didn't want to mow in straight lines with my rotary mower.  


Basic Guide, How to Use Mowers

The guidance may have come from the era of reel mowers that push the grass in the same direction. I use a reel mower for maintaining our one-acre and half. You've highlighted the fact that a rotary mower is more unpredictable.


However, if you kept your lawn mowed with the same path each time, you'd probably miss the triangle "downstream” of a tree. If there is a bump, the grass "before” the node will always be a little short and the grass “after” will always be a little longer.


 The grass near a path may not be cut if it is mowed parallel to it, but if the course was mowed back and forth, it will.


Most of these problems can be solved with a trimmer. This advice is more about lawn health than perfection. It doesn't take much to change it up every once in a while or to follow a pattern that goes east-west one moment, north-south another, west-east the next. This will probably reduce the amount you have to trim, and it will give you more uniformity.

It also prevents wheel ruts forming, as I have heard.


The former might be something I would consider buying, but it is unlikely that the latter will cause any real problems. The grass will grow wherever it likes, usually upwards towards the sun. It is possible that following the same route every week could develop ruts, but this has never happened to me, except when I run it through the wet ground, which I try to avoid.


I have three mowers, one push and one riding, on my farm. I only change the direction of the cutting when I see that the grass is not being cut from a certain angle. For example, my drain field area cuts better along the lines than if I cut across them because the ground is uneven.


It is primarily an aesthetic thing. The direction doesn't seem to have any effect on the lawn. My neighbor does it every week, and I like the result. But, I don't think there is any real benefit to cutting the same grass pattern.


Blad Direction

Here's why I don't believe in the "direction to cut" argument:

The mower blades don't move in the same direction as you. The mower blade can be compared to a helicopter. 


It retreats faster than it is moving forward. The blade direction depends on where the mower is located. It can move forward, backward, left or right, depending on which way it is pointed.


 Do you do the same amount of passes every time you mow your lawn? If you don't, the grass is cut in different directions each time. The focus of the mower's blade will change as you move forward.


 This is true regardless of whether the sword points at a fixed point on the ground. As you walk on, the blade hits the end closest to the mower's center. Then it hits the left side of the mower after crossing the middle point.


Wheel ruts can form. It may be possible, even though I have a few inches more variability each pass. I also don't always put the wheels in the same spot every time I mow.