A lawnmower on a healthy green lawn
In this guide, we look at how to efficiently cut your grass, whilst keeping the edges nice and tidy.

This article was written by our Training and Education Officer, Mark Emery.

Edging is the process of defining the borders between your lawn and your flower beds, and other areas of your garden.

  • Good exercise: The department of health recommends 150 minutes of light aerobic exercise a week, so 20 minutes pushing a mower up and down the lawn more than fills the quota for the day.
  • It suppresses weeds: Many people will begrudge the way that daffodils and yarrow, as well as many of the more pernicious weeds, will take root in their new lawn. Mowing makes sure those plants can’t establish themselves by not allowing them to fully live out their lifecycle and set seed.
  • Compost provider: It is said that compost is made up of a balance of green and brown natural material to ensure a good final nutrition rich product. And what better green material could you want then freshly mown grass? It is partly broken down already, so no need to chop or shred it, and you can marvel at how quickly it begins to heat up in your compost bin.
  • Gives a ‘clean’ appearance to the garden: I enjoy a mowed lawn as it means that no matter what state the beds may be in it enables the garden to look maintained.
  • You can take the bucket off the back of the mower and let your children get a rake and rake the grass cuttings into piles to be placed in the compost bin when the task is complete.
  • Children can also run in, kick down and spread out grass piles as they please. The added advantage here is that the cut grass left outside the compost bin will break down over time and feed the lawn you have just mown.
  • When mowing it's wise to ask your kids to stand back a little due to the spinning blades and the odd projectile that may come flying from them.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.

Petrol: One of the more satisfying mowers to use as they produce nice lines as you work. Not as practical for home use as you need to be able to provide storage for a remarkable heavy lawn mower and also the petrol that it needs to run it. Ear defenders would also be advised when using this type of mower, as they can be very loud.

Electric: These will often be powered by plugging into the mains and will often be a hover mower design that lifts slightly from the ground as you work. These tend to produce a satisfactory result and are easy and intuitive to use. One health and safety tip is to make sure the power cord is kept away from the mower blades. Battery powered mowers are also available and light to use.

Hand-push: These are great for smaller lawn spaces. They require more physical exertion and are also better for the environment as they do not require power. In contrast to other petrol mowers, they are also quiet and have no running costs other than occasionally having to change the odd blade.

With all the mowers listed above it would be recommended (if steel toe capped shoes are not available) to wear closed toe shoes should the blades get too close to your feet whilst working. Vigilance is always worth practicing when using a mower. Think through the safety features before starting it and make sure you are paying attention to what you are doing and what is around you whilst it is in use.

Lawn mowing edging 2

Adjust height when necessary: It may be that you want a very cropped and neat look to your lawn in which case you will want your blades lower to the ground. But you may also want to consider being hospitable to existing wildlife in your lawn and raising the blades to give the lawn a ‘wilder’ more unkempt look. It is also advisable to leave the grass longer over the hotter periods of the summer to give it a better chance of not dying back and going brown in the heat. The good news is that even if your lawn does go a yellowy brown in high summer it will usually return to a more familiar green after a couple of weeks.

Frequency of mowing: For some mowing once a week over the summer may seem necessary to achieve the clean look they wish to achieve. But if you want a lawn that produces flowers and is inhabitable by wildlife then twice over the whole summer at a high setting will do nicely for you.

Don’t mow in wet weather or frost: This will only clog up blades, compact soil and cause damage to both your mower and your lawn. Its best to be a fair-weather mower.

Edge your lawn before mowing if you want clean look: A good practice I learnt when maintaining garden spaces was to edge the beds first using long handled sheers or a strimmer and then rake or blow the grass cuttings onto the lawn along with any other debris you wish to dispose of from the bed. You can then mow this all up and leave the lawn looking tidy whilst saving you the job of picking up all the left-over cuttings.

Hoe: Great for a small area you may wish to leisurely work your way around. The hoe really develops precision at the task at hand.

Spade: This tool could be used to achieve a quick, perhaps less precise, finish to your lawn edge. I would personally use a spade to map out where I wanted to develop beds in a garden area where none existed and then finalise the edge using one of the tools shown above.

Half-moon: The tool that was specifically designed for this task and has handy footrests to help you push it into the ground to best achieve a clean line around the outside of your lawn.

Defining your edges involves cutting a small bank into your lawn that drops down into your flower bed, usually 10-15cm deep. This enables you to better distinguish your lawn area from where you are growing and enables you to tidy the grass around these areas more easily. This task can be done with a number of tools, three of them being.

You can separate your lawn from your planting area. You can do this with metal, plastic or bamboo edging. These can be incorporated into your garden space and each has its own level of difficulty when it comes to combining into your lawn.

Mowing is a necessary part of lawn upkeep over the summer months and is also one of the more satisfying tasks in way of physical exertion used when doing it and the result it produces for your garden space. I hope the above has given you some handy tips and insight into mowing for the future, helping to keep your lawn clipped and clean to your liking.

Change lives with gardening today

Adam with parsnips 1