KC Gardens

Dennis Patton: Sure, it’s winter, but plan now for ways to simplify your mowing

By Dennis Patton

K-State Extension

Group mulchings around trees.
Group mulchings around trees. Submitted.

During January and February not many people venture outside. There are the hardy souls out jogging, walking or enjoying the wonders of winter. The majority of us are holed up inside hoping and praying for spring to arrive. Now is a great time to plan for spring and the list of tasks that come with the arrival of the changing seasons.

One of the yearly spring chores is lawn mowing. I realize the sound of roaring engines is still a few months away but now is a good time to peer out of the window and ask yourself this question: How can I simplify the mowing process? What can I do to save time and energy so that I can move on to other tasks?

My guess is this is a question many of us have never asked ourselves as we go about the task of mowing. I am sure many have cussed the time and energy that goes into lawn mowing but few have probably undertaken steps to simplify the practice.

I am not perfect when it comes to efficiencies. But I do know a few tricks to help when it comes to mowing.

▪  Avoid mowing around.

The best tip I can give is to find ways to stop mowing around things. Driving streets, you can find all sorts of things stuck out in the middle of the yard. This ranges from randomly planted shrubs, trees, containers, play structures and the list goes on and on. Every time you have to mow around something it involves a lot of stopping and starting, backing up, turning — and this consumes time.

Many times these items are just in the lawn because we don’t take the time to move them or just become so accustomed to them being there we just don’t see them. Why not move them, or in most cases just get rid of them as they often time provide little in the landscape.

▪  Think groupings, beds and borders.

The simple fix to these random things in the yard is to group them together and create a bed or border. My favorite is the planting of three to five random shrubs along the property line. I have watched numerous people mow up and around each plant with painstaking precision. Starting, stopping, turning and usually beating the living hell out of the trunks of these plants attempting to whack back every blade of grass.

The next step people do is place the token mulch ring around each plant but the result is still the same. Starting and stopping around each plant. Why not just get rid of the turf around the individual shrubs? Instead turn them into a bed or grouping? Grass is not king, every inch of the yard does not need to be covered with grass.

By removing the turf, applying mulch to the entire area you now have reduced all stopping and turning and created one line for the mower to move, greatly reducing your time. Getting rid of the grass is better for the trees and shrubs within the grouping and overall just looks better.

▪  Avoid tight angles and curves.

Another simple tip is to get rid of tight turns that the mower cannot cleanly cut. This reduces the need for follow up weed eating or the up and back motions to cleanly mow the area. Instead, relax the curves so the mower will easily track along the edge. The result is one forward motion and the edge of the lawn is mown.

Creating this edge is simple. Mow a strip along the edge that is easy to maneuver and adjust the edge. Or take the garden hose and lay out a pattern and then adjust until you have an easy to follow pattern. Once this shape is defined readjust the edge or border. This step may take a little more time but it will be recouped each time you mow.

While you are looking out the window on one of these cold winter days, don’t just randomly daydream but think. Think about simple steps you can do this spring to make the task of mowing easier and save you time and energy. You will be glad you did once you make these simple changes.