Whether it’s regular outdoor entertaining, kids playing soccer or dogs chasing tennis balls, fun on the lawn — combined with hot, dry conditions — can mean your grass gets a major workout during the summer and early fall. But that doesn’t mean you have to.

To keep your lawn looking sharp without breaking your back, follow these five simple tips.

Mow high


Crew cuts are out. Don’t fall for the myth that the shorter you cut your grass, the less often you’ll have to mow. Leaving the grass blades a bit longer allows them to shade the roots and provides more leaf surface for making food, so you can water, feed and mow less often. The type of grass in your lawn will determine the height you should set your mower, but most turfgrasses can be allowed to grow 3 inches tall in the summer before the top one-third of the blades is removed by mowing.

Find the most efficient mowing pattern

Most people mow their lawns in rows, and that’s usually the fastest way to do it. If you have a more-or-less rectangular lawn, mowing in lengthwise rows (along the longest side of the lawn) will reduce the number of turns you need to make and thus speed up the job. Another option is to work in concentric circles — this can be more efficient because the turns are all in the same direction and, except at the very center, they’re not as sharp, so you can maneuver the mower better. Whatever pattern you choose, be sure to overlap the rows a bit so you don’t have to go back later and clean up areas you missed.

Leave the clippings

If you aren’t cutting off more than one-third of the height of the grass blades (which you shouldn’t be anyway, as this stresses the plants), you don’t need to bag the clippings. Just leave them on the lawn and they’ll break down easily, providing the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — the same nutrients found in commercial fertilizer. Clippings don’t cause thatch, and leaving them on the grass is a zero-cost, zero-effort way to