How to Cut an Overgrown Lawn

An overgrown lawn is an eyesore, but, if you do not use the proper method when mowing, you can damage your lawn mower and your grass.

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There are many reasons why a lawn might become overgrown, including moving into a new house or neglecting your current lawn due to lack of time. Regardless of how it happened, dealing with an overgrown lawn is often difficult. If not handled properly, you could harm your grass, not to mention damaging your lawn mower. Short of using a bush hog, which is a viable alternative, you should follow a specific process when cutting the grass yourself.

In this article, Part 1 discusses the need to trim the lawn down to a more manageable height before mowing it, Part 2 details the mowing process when cutting an overgrown lawn, and Part 3 stresses the necessity of de-thatching, seeding, and fertilizing an overgrown lawn after you mow.

Part 1 of 3: Trim the lawn first

Materials Needed

  • Safety goggles
  • Weed trimmer, sickle, or scythe
  • Work gloves

The first step you want to take when cutting an overgrown lawn is to get the grass to a more manageable height. When trimming, make sure to wear the appropriate gear, including gloves, safety goggles, closed-toe shoes, and pants. The section below highlights the lawn-trimming process.

Step 1: Trim the height of the lawn. Start by using a weed trimmer, sickle, or scythe to cut the overgrown grass down to a lower height.

This part of the process is very labor intensive and might take some time. The point of using a trimming device is to try and reduce the height of the grass by at least 1/3, making it easier to use a mower to finish the task.

Step 2: Water the lawn. Before you bring out the mower, water the grass and allow it to recover for a week.

The grass won’t grow that much during this time period, and it keeps the grass relatively healthy in preparation for the tough job of mowing ahead.

Part 2 of 3: Mow the lawn

Materials Needed

  • Riding or push mower
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves

The next part of the process is actually mowing the grass down to the height you want. If you trimmed it beforehand, you should have an easier time mowing it, though the task will still take a lot of work on your part. If you are lucky, you have a riding mower. Otherwise, you will have to struggle through using a push mower.

Before mowing make sure to put on work gloves, safety goggles, and close-toed shoes. In addition, you need to wear pants to protect your legs. The following section describes how to mow an overgrown lawn.

Step 1: First pass. After setting the mower to its highest setting, make a first pass to reduce the height of the grass even further.

This step might be slow going, as the mower might try to bog down on you. If the mower does stop, unhook the spark plug and clean out the blade area to remove any blockage.

Step 2: Second pass. After you have reduced the height of the grass to a more manageable height, make a second pass over the lawn with the mower set to the height you want.

You might even need to set the mower to a higher setting for the second pass and then set it to the height you want for a third pass to make it easier to cut.

Just remember to take your time and to take the necessary precautions when clearing out the blade area when the mower bogs down.

Step 3: Mow regularly. Continue to mow your lawn following a regular grass-cutting schedule.

While the lawn will look horrible initially after cutting it from an overgrown condition, it should start looking better with subsequent cutting.

Part 3 of 3: De-thatch, seed, and fertilize the lawn

Materials Needed

  • Compost or sand
  • Fertilizer
  • Grass seed
  • Lawn spreader
  • Mechanical core aerator
  • Scarifier

In addition to an overgrown condition, more than likely you need to replace the grass underneath with new grass, as the lack of sunlight probably created bare patches. In addition, you need to dethatch the lawn to remove dead grass and leaves that might lie underneath the overgrown lawn. This sections tells you what you need to do after you mow an overgrown lawn.

Step 1: Dethatch the lawn. Start by using a scarifier to remove any dead leaves or thatch at the base of the grass.

This should allow sunlight and water to reach the roots of the grass, allowing it to grow more easily.

Step 2: Aerate the lawn. Next, aerate the lawn using a mechanical core aerator.

This device punches holes in the soil and removes the soil, allowing water and nutrients to more easily reach the base of the grass.

In addition, as a part of this step, apply compost or sand to give the grass the nutrients it needs for regrowth.

Step 4: Seed the lawn. Follow this up by seeding the lawn with the appropriate amount of grass seed.

Step 5: Fertilize the lawn. Finally, apply fertilizer to the lawn to promote additional growth of the recently laid grass seed.

Caring for your lawn if it is overgrown might initially seem impossible, but even though the work is hard, by following the steps above, you can have your yard back in top shape over the course of a few weeks. When cutting an overgrown lawn, make sure to take your time, keep properly hydrated, and take the necessary safety precautions while mowing. If the job proves too hard, you can always hire a gardener to do the work for you.

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