What direction should you mow your lawn?


There are a few key factors to consider when determining which direction to mow your lawn:

  • Mow diagonally or in alternating directions to help prevent ruts from developing.
  • Mow towards the outside perimeter first and work inward.
  • Mow in the same direction as the grass is growing to help it stand up straight.
  • For slopes, mow in horizontal passes going up and down the incline.

The main goal is to vary the mowing pattern to prevent excess wear and promote even growth. Read on for more details on determining the best mowing direction for your lawn.

Should you mow in the same direction every time?

Mowing in the same direction over and over can lead to ruts developing in the lawn over time as the mower wheels follow the same paths repeatedly. Ruts prevent water from draining properly and make it harder to mow evenly.

To avoid ruts, it’s best to alternate mowing directions. This distributes the mower’s weight more evenly and prevents excessive wear from developing in any one area.

Here are two recommended approaches:

  • Mow diagonally across the lawn, then mow diagonally in the opposite direction the next time.
  • Mow north-south one session, then east-west the next time.

Alternating diagonal passes helps prevent straight ruts from developing. Changing perpendicular directions also provides variation without creating criss-crossing lines in the lawn.

Avoid mowing in the exact same pattern each time. The key is to distribute the mower’s weight and wear evenly over the entire lawn.

Should you mow in the direction of grass growth?

When mowing, you generally want to cut grass in the same direction that it grows naturally. This helps the grass blades stand up straight after being mowed.

The direction of grass growth is determined by several factors:

  • Grass type – Warm season grasses like Bermuda tend to grow more horizontally, while cool season grasses like fescue grow more vertically.
  • Sun direction – Grass usually grows towards the sun.
  • Prevailing winds – Wind can bend grass in the direction it normally blows.

To determine the natural growth direction, inspect the lawn right before mowing. The grass blades will usually lean slightly in the direction of growth.

Mowing against the grain causes the blades to bend over and become tangled or crushed. This damages the grass. Cutting in the direction of growth results in a cleaner cut and healthier lawn.

The growth direction may vary in different areas. Adjust your mowing pattern accordingly to accommodate the changes.

Should you always mow the perimeter first?

It’s generally recommended to mow the outer grass first and work inward when mowing a lawn. Here’s why this approach works well:

  • Starts the mowing pattern on the outside edge which is usually more visible.
  • Prevents tracks from the mower in the main lawn area.
  • Gives cleaner turns with less damage to the grass.
  • Results in a nicely trimmed border around the lawn.

Mowing from the perimeter inward just makes the mowing process more systematic. It also enhances the look by keeping the edges cleaner.

The exception is if the lawn has an island or obstacle in the middle. In that case, mow around the perimeter as well as around the obstacle first. Then fill in the open areas.

Following a consistent outside-in mowing system helps when alternating mowing directions. Just be sure to change up the angle and pattern from one mowing to the next.

What’s the best way to mow slopes and hills?

Mowing grass on an incline or slope presents some unique challenges. The mower wants to slide downhill, which can scalp the grass.

To mow a slope properly:

  • Always mow up and down slopes rather than across.
  • Overlap passes slightly to prevent missed strips.
  • Watch the mower’s wheels and use gentle turns – no sharp steering on slopes.
  • Set the mower to a high cutting height for better traction.
  • Avoid steep slopes over 20 degrees if possible.

Mowing horizontal passes going directly up and down the slope prevents the mower from sliding and scalping. Be cautious making turns to prevent tipping or loss of control.

For very steep hills, an alternative is to mow across the slope with walk-behind mowers only. This takes more time but provides better footing. Ride-on mowers should always go up and down inclines, not across.

Proper mowing technique on slopes can create a beautiful lawn while preventing accidents. Take it slow and be cautious.

Should you mow wet or damp grass?

Mowing wet grass is not recommended. Here are some key reasons to avoid mowing damp grass:

  • Wet grass clippings stick to the mower deck and blades, creating clumping.
  • Wet grass is prone to getting flattened and damaged by the mower.
  • Wheels can leave ruts and tracks in soggy lawns.
  • Wet grass clippings don’t mulch well and can leave messy clumps.

It’s best to wait until the grass dries to mow. The optimal time is late afternoon when the dew has evaporated but before it starts getting dark.

If you simply must mow wet grass, use these tips:

  • Raise the cutting height to reduce blade contact.
  • Clean under the mowing deck frequently to remove clippings.
  • Make sure the grass isn’t so wet that clumps form on the lawn.
  • Consider a mulching mower that finely chops clippings.

Avoid mowing after rain or irrigation until the lawn has had time to dry out. Letting the grass dry provides the best cut and appearance.

Should you mow more frequently or let grass grow taller between mowings?

Most lawn experts recommend mowing more frequently but keeping the grass a bit taller between mowings. Here are the benefits of this approach:

  • Allows more frequent removal of grass clippings.
  • Prevents excess growth between mowings.
  • Results in a more even, consistent lawn height.
  • Reduces mowing stress and shock to the grass.
  • Less chance of scalping due to lower height variance.

As a general guideline, aim to remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade height per mowing session. This means mowing more often but taking less off each time.

For example, if your desired height is 3 inches, mow when the grass gets around 4 1⁄2 inches. This “1/3 rule” minimizes shock and maintains healthier grass.

More frequent mowing encourages thicker turf and avoids the appearance of scalped or shaggy grass between cuts. It also makes mowing easier with less load on the mower.

Should certain grass types be mowed in different directions?

Some grass types benefit from mowing in specific directions due to their growth patterns:

  • Bermuda grass – Mow parallel to the rows of Bermuda stolons for a cleaner cut.
  • Zoysia grass – Alternate diagonal mowing prevents grain and ruts due to its coarse texture.
  • Ryegrass – Cut vertically with upright growth pattern for clean blades.
  • Fescue – Cut vertically following its bunch-forming growth habit.
  • St. Augustine – Angle mower about 30 degrees across upright leaf blades.

These tips maximize cut quality and minimize damage for specific turfgrass types. But it’s still important to alternate directions between mowings to prevent rutting.

Knowing the predominant growth direction and texture is key to mowing different grass types properly. Adjust your technique to match the characteristics of your lawn grass.

Should you use a mulching or side discharge mower?

Mulching and side discharge mowers both have pros and cons to consider:

Mulching Mowers

  • Chop clippings finely to biodegrade into the lawn.
  • Return nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
  • No need for raking or bagging clippings.
  • Can lead to excess thatch buildup over time.

Side Discharge Mowers

  • Remove clippings from lawn area.
  • Allow cutting wet or thick grass.
  • Discharges onto sidewalks or beds in some cases.
  • Requires raking or bagging clippings.

In general, mulching mowers are preferable for most lawns. But a standard side discharge mower can be beneficial when trimming very wet or dense grass.

Try to match the mower type to your specific lawn and conditions. You can also look for combination mowers that allow switching between mulching and side discharge. This provides added flexibility.

How can you tell if your mowing direction is improving your lawn?

You can use these signs to judge if your mowing direction is benefitting the lawn:

  • No development of ruts or distinct wheel tracks over time.
  • Grass recovers quickly and stands upright after mowing.
  • Consistent growth and color across the lawn area.
  • No grain or bent grass blades after mowing.
  • Clean cut across blade tips with minimal fraying.
  • Thatch and organic debris mows cleanly without clumping.

Proper mowing direction reduces mechanical damage, allows more even growth, and creates a neat, consistent appearance.

Monitor these factors after mowing. If needed, adjust your mowing pattern. Alternating direction is key along with mowing in the direction of grass growth when possible.


Choosing the optimal lawn mowing direction involves several considerations:

  • Vary direction to prevent ruts.
  • Mow outer edges first, working inward.
  • Cut in the direction of grass growth.
  • Use horizontal passes on slopes.
  • Avoid mowing wet grass.
  • Mow more frequently but with less removed.
  • Match technique to grass type.

Proper mowing direction promotes healthy turf growth, prevents mechanical damage, and improves appearance. Adjust your mowing patterns appropriately for the characteristics and conditions of your lawn.

Consistent mowing in varied directions is a fundamental technique for maintaining a gorgeous lawn. Learning how to mow properly helps any grass type look its best. Master these mowing methods as a key skill of lawn care.

Grass Type Recommended Mowing Direction
Bermuda Parallel to stolon rows
Zoysia Alternate diagonal passes
Ryegrass Vertically along growth
Fescue Vertically along upright growth
St. Augustine 30 degree angle across blades

This table summarizes the ideal mowing direction for several common grass types based on their growth habits and texture. Adjusting technique based on grass type improves cut quality and health. But remember to still alternate direction between mowings. Consistently varying mowing patterns is the key to preventing lawn damage while maintaining quality appearance.

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