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Best mowing patterns

Mow in a different direction each time to avoid compacting the soil.

Radio interview source: Rodney St. John, Turfgrass Specialist, Kansas State University

Mowing season is here, and so is the monotony of back and forth, back and forth. You don't like that, and neither does your grass.

Kansas State University Turfgrass Specialist Rodney St. John says the main benefit to mowing in different directions is to shift the wheel pattern so it doesn't compact the soil.

"Compaction of the soil will reduce the amount of air in the soil, and roots need air to breathe. If you don't have air in the soil, then you don't have good root growth, and the plants will suffer and die," says St. John. "There's wear-and-tear on the surface of the grass as well, but the major component is the actual compaction of the soil."

When you constantly mow the grass in the same direction, the blades of grass will bend over and mat down. If that happens, air movement is stifled through the canopy leaving it more susceptible to disease.

So how often should you change the pattern? St. John says every time.

"I would say mow north-south the first time, and east-west the second time, and you can even go diagonal on a northeast-southeast-type pattern," says St. John. "It's not mission critical to follow the same pattern north-south today, east-west next week, but as long as you're changing the pattern every time, that'll be beneficial."

The best thing to do is develop several patterns and alternate them during the mowing season. It will also help the grass stand up straighter so you get a more even cut.

Listen here to the radio story: Best mowing patterns

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