5 Mowing Mistakes to Avoid to Improve Curb Appeal

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Curb appeal can be important in selling a house, giving potential buyers a first look at the outside of what could be their new home. Whether it's new paint, flowers or a new lawn that you've put down yourself, having a clean, well-kept front of a home can make a good first impression that encourages house shoppers to come inside.

If you've laid down sod yourself for your front lawn, it can be enough work to get it right and make sure the grass grows and doesn't die. But more than just watering is required afterward, and some homeowners make mistakes with a new lawn that can hurt their home's curb appeal. (If you live in an area affected by drought, low-water landscaping is an option.)

Here are five mowing mistakes to avoid if you want your lawn to give a great first impression to home buyers, according to Mark Schmidt, a principal scientist at John Deere:

1. Cutting too short: Each time you mow, only remove about one-third of the grass blade. Shorter clippings break down more easily, allowing some of the natural nitrogen to return to the soil. If you cut too much at one time, the long clippings can cause stress on the grass, inhibiting healthy growth.

Removing only a small amount of the blade each time you mow is a good practice and will give you the best quality turf.

2. Mowing pattern monotony: Mowing your lawn in the same pattern all year is one habit worth breaking. Mowing grass in the same direction all the time can mat down the turf and inhibit growth. By varying the pattern in which you mow your grass, you will avoid missing or double mowing areas and reduce wear on the turf. The will encourage a healthier, more beautiful lawn.

3. Bagging it: Though bagging clippings is a common practice, mulching is much more beneficial to your lawn. Mulching returns essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, back to the soil.

Removing only a small amount of the grass blade each time you mow produces shorter clippings that can decompose more quickly and discourages the development of fungus disease. Many mowers have mulching capabilities. If you do decide to bag, be sure to compost your clippings and reuse on site.

4. Ignoring the roots: A common mistake is managing only the parts of the lawn you can see. Caring for the grass roots and soil is one of the most important things you can do to ensure healthy year-round growth year.

Consider taking a soil sample and having a local university extension program or landscape supplier provide a soil analysis. The results will give a measure of fertility based on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels, and can help determine the best type of fertilizer to use throughout the year.

5. Blunt mower blades: A dull mower blade will shred grass blades, resulting in a poor quality of cut and potentially creating entryways for disease.

Keep the mower blade sharp for the best cut and to help promote a healthy turf. Also, be sure the blade is balanced to produce a clean cut and avoid damage to the mower.

With those tips in mind, your lawn should be one of the first things a home shopper notices when walking up to the front door. From there, let the rest of the house help make the sale.
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