Lawn tips from the mowing team

7 October 2020

Ask the Wellington City Council mowing team for tips on looking after your home lawn, and they quickly offer up the same piece of advice – don't cut it too short.

Long grass ready to be mowed.
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Mowing Team Leader Gus Anderson says you should cut a maximum of “one third of the leaf” each mow. 

“That’s crucial for maintaining the health of your lawn.” 

If you cut it lower the grass can initially “bounce back” and grow more quickly, meaning you might need to mow more often. 

And if you cut your grass really short it can rip it out at the root, allowing weeds to move in. 

Former mowing manager Matt Beres says Kiwis traditionally tended to cut their lawns much too low. 

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“In New Zealand people tend to scalp their lawn to within an inch of its life.”

In terms of length for Council sites, it depends on the grade of lawn, but they generally aim for between 50mm to 120mm. 

As for catching versus mulching, that comes down to personal choice and how much time you’ve got. 
Gus, Ray and Matt know a lot about lawns.

“By mulching grass you can release nutrients back into the soil, however there is a risk of smothering the grass, creating diseases and making a mess,” says Gus. 

“A mix of catching and mulching is sometimes best - catch the grass when it’s wetter and mulch when it’s dry. Again, people have their own ideas and sometimes time is of the essence.” 

But then again, do you really need to mow your lawn at all? 

For some Council sites, the mowing team is exploring ways of increasing biodiversity at some appropriate sites by creating meadows, Matt says. 

“Rather than just cutting grass for cutting’s sake, we might be able to leave some sites for an annual cut. 

“This will also allow the team to deliver better service in the more useable areas.” 
Gus, Ray and Matt know a lot about lawns.

If you’ve got a particularly steep site, consider planting with plants instead of grass.

Some of the more hazardous Council sites have been planted with native bush – a better solution than putting staff at risk by having them mow steep banks. 

As for mowing team member Ray, he has a very simple tip. 

"Clean up after your pets - that’s a great way to protect your lawn. 

“And if you're in a public park then that will make things more pleasant for other dog owners and for us who look after the grass. 

“Because if you hit some of it with a weed-eater, it’s just everywhere.”