Question: Lawn mower ripped grass

By | 12/06/2017
Lawn mower blades

I received this question in June 2017 from a reader who was concerned about the grassed being ripped by his mower on his newly turfed lawn.

Hello, I recently bought a petrol rotary mower for the first time. Although the first few cuts were OK, I have started to notice that the grass ends look ripped rather than cut and it leaves the lawn with a whitish look. I assume that the blades are sharp as the mower is only a few months old. I was however running the throttle at half speed (to control the drive/ground speed) and I wanted to know if this could be resulting in the poor cut or if I need to get the mower blades sharpened?

Also, what products do you recommend for fertilising a newly laid turf lawn?

Thanks, Chris

(Note: photo not supplied by questioner, main image CC from Wikipedia)

Thanks for your question Chris.

Your problem of ripped grass will be a mowing issue. How you mow your lawn will be the main factor in how it looks.

Blunt blades will cause ripped grass

Running your mower at half speed will affect the cutting ability of the lawn mower. Especially a rotary mower. A rotary mower relies on the speed of the blade to give a good cut to the grass blade. Slow this down and the grass will be able to bend out of the way before cutting through. This may rip it, causing shredding and the white tips which you describe.

If you notice grass ripping after mowing, sharpen your mower blades. Even if your mower is new, they may still have blunted, or even been blunt from new for safety purposes. You are aiming for a knife-sharp edge.

So in answer to your question, it is probably both the low speed of the cut and the blades which is causing the ripped grass. Sharpen the blades first, then adjust the cutting speed and see the effects.

Getting a knife edge to your mower blade will dramatically improve the cut. Improving the cut will improve the look of your lawn.

As for your question on lawn products for your lawn. Contact your local lawn care service. They will be able to apply professional grade products which are not available in the shops. It will cost much less than you think!

Hope this is useful. Thanks for reading.

Kris Lord
The Lawn Man

Featured image credit: Hedwig Storch [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “Question: Lawn mower ripped grass

  1. Shane

    Have you ever used a reel mower? I have read that they don’t tear the grass as much. I was looking at some info on
    I searched and didn’t see any posts about them…thanks!

    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi Shane,
      Here in the UK they are called Cylinder Mowers. Yes, the do give a fantastic cut and are great for small gardens and folks who like that extra special look to their flat lawn.
      However a lot of these machines are high maintenance (they need regular sharpening) and are designed to cut grass very short (e.g. for bowling greens) and hence are not that great for the majority of domestic British lawns.
      Kris, The Lawn Man


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