Do You Mow or Edge Your Lawn First?

Taking care of a lawn can be a demanding task, and knowing how to best approach each lawn care activity can take off quite a bit of pressure. There are some lawn maintenance practices like grass height, watering schedule, and fertilization that needs to be done in the right order to be successful and is pretty much agreed on by lawn enthusiast all over the world.

Other lawn practices, like whether to edge or mow the grass first, can lead to more ambivalent reactions from yard owners.

Grass needs to be taken care of in the right way, and I find that there are seasons when I edge first to get the yard done quickly, and there are times when mowing precedes edging for a more immaculate lawn. Understanding the techniques of lawn care and the intention behind common lawn jobs like mowing and edging can help you find the best routine for your home and garden. 

Why Should I Edge or Mow First?

Deciding on whether to mow or edge first depends on the situation’s specific lawn care goals. If you want to have the blades of grass exactly lined up across the whole lawn, you may need to mow and then edge. If, however, you want to keep the lawn clean of grass clippings, you can hit the sidewalks with the string trimmers and then mow to collect all the grass blades in a mower bag.

How you do it is up to you! 

Edge First for Efficiency

Often professional lawn care companies will edge first, then mow, then blow. This is because as the first person is trimming and edging, another landscaper is starting to mow. Once the first person is done string trimming near obstructions and sidewalks, he follows the mower with a leaf blower, leaving a completely clean lawn. This approach may be fast but will not give you perfect results like a more meticulous lawn care routine would. 

At home, you may need efficiency for different situations like bad weather coming fast or limited time to take care of the grass. In these cases edging and trimming first can make the rest of the task seem easier, as all that’s left is to mow what’s inside the perimeter of your edged yard.

Sometimes only the sides of your lawn need a crisp edge put back on, but it seems like the whole turf needs a cut. Once the edge clippings are cut, the manicured lawn may not need the entire lawn mowed and could save you even more time and effort.

Mow First for Precision

If you are getting your yard ready for a party or if it is the first deep lawn cut of the season, you may want to mow first and then edge your yard. When you mow first, you cut all the grass to a uniform size. You will be able to cut as close to structures and obstacles as your mower allows leaving less lawn that you have to level via eyeball with a weed whacker.

Once the mowing is complete, take your string trimmer and hit the spots where the grass is still tall. All you will need to do now is knock the grass blades down to the same height as the mowed lawn, and you will have a perfectly even trim. Using a dedicated edger can help create an even more well-manicured lawn than just hitting the paths with a weed eater. 

Reasons to Mow and Edge Your Yard

There are situations where a lawn owner may question the need to mow and edge a lawn. Even trimming may seem unnecessary to some who want to keep the HOA off their backs but don’t need a perfect-looking lawn. Below are some of the main reasons to both mow and edge your lawn; there are aesthetic justifications for sure, but there are also reasons to edge, trim, and mow that pertain to lawn health as well. 

Clean Crisp Look

Clean Lawn Edges

Using all the different lawn care tools at your disposal can help give your lawn the best appearance possible. Different engines are useful when doing edging and trimming work because the string trimmers can be more powerful than necessary and throw clumps of dirt. If you use the right type of edger, you will have a cleaner, crisper lawn look. 

Level Appearance

In what is known as the edge effect, grass blade height tends to be the highest near sidewalks and driveways. If you only mow and do not edge, then your grass cut height will be inconsistent near the perimeter of your property. A lawn edge trimmer can knock down tall grass and keep your turf looking level and lush. 

Improved Drainage and Aeration

Edging along the pathways gives a place for rainwater to go when it runs off surfaces. Giving your yard an extra way to absorb water, especially during the hot summer months, goes a long way. Knocking down lawn clippings with a trimmer in between mows can help add fertilizer to the lawn without causing thatch and reducing soil aeration capabilities.

Weed Control and Suppression

Weeds are likely to grow near edges and can spring up between mow jobs. When you repeatedly edge and trim the sides of your lawn, you can stop weeds before they go to seed. This can help keep the rest of your yard free of invasive grasses by reducing the chance of seeds spreading. Edging down to the dirt will kill even the most stubborn weeds by thrashing the roots and keeping them from coming back. 

Edging and Mowing Tips and Tricks

If you want to have a well-manicured lawn, it helps to know how to best use all the lawn care tools at your disposal. If you pay attention to these tricks and tips, you should be able to organize even the most neglected lawns. Make sure to prioritize safety and steady work to ensure the best results with minimal mishaps. 

Safety FirstMowing, EdgingPrevents accidents or unnecessary stops or damages
Dry GrassMowing, EdgingClean cuts and easier cleanup
Mow Perpendicular to your Last PatternMowingreduces compactions and lets new blades get even sunlight
Set Mower HeightMowingHelps grass builds strong roots and survive extreme weather conditions
Move Steadily Mowing, EdgingAids in even cutting and helps make attractive mow lines across your lawn
Maintain Control of EquipmentMowing, EdgingBetter lines and smoother cuts
Edge at 90° Angle EdgingHelps grass grow straight and prevents turf burn with angled cuts
Stand on Hard Edging SurfaceEdgingStraighter lines and a more even trim than when standing on the grass 

General Tips

Whether you are edging, mowing, or trimming, there are a few things you should always keep in mind. The engines on lawn machines can be powerful and inflict severe bodily harm. Always makes sure that lawn equipment is maintained and working correctly before using it. 

Lawn care should be performed when the grass is dry, as wet grass is much harder to work on. Wet grass will clump more and clog the discharge chutes and guards on mowers and weed eaters. In some cases, wet grass will bend and not cut, leaving a very patchy lawn when it becomes dry again after the morning dew. 

It is always a good idea to use the equipment in a steady and controlled manner. Swinging lawn equipment around can be dangerous and lead to sloppy cuts and damage to the turf. Steady cuts will give you more defined lines and help your grass stand out. It is also better for the equipment if it can cut and toss the waste before moving on instead of forcing more material into the mower than it is ready to handle by rushing the job. 

Mowing Tips

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When mowing, you should always set the mower height to the correct number for your turf type and the season. Grass can be left to go longer during dormant seasons but should be maintained lower when actively growing. Cool-season grasses can usually be left to grow longer than heat-loving turfs, and this should all be considered when setting the mower height. 

It is a good idea to alternate your mowing patterns every time you cut your grass. If you always follow the same path in the same direction, either always East to West or West to East, then you could compact your soil and harm your grass in the long term. Instead, try mixing it up and going North to South or hit your lawn with some diagonals and really let your hair down and improve lawn health.

Edging Tips

With edging, it is a good idea to keep the string trimmers or edging blade at exactly 90°. This will follow the path exactly and give the crisp edge a well-trimmed lawn needs. Hitting the turf at an angle can cut grass roots and make the edges look burnt where the grass is dying. If you angle it towards the hard surfaces, you will tear through string extremely quickly and possibly dull your edging blades. 

When edging, you may be tempted to stand on the grass to see the edge better. It is hard to get the height just right when you are standing on the more uneven surface of grass. The paved path can give you the vantage point you need to cut the grass to a precise height and create a clean edge along all pathways and borders. 

Do You Need to Edge Every Mow?

You shouldn’t feel like it is crucial to edge every single time you mow. Likewise, there may be times when a quick edge and whip might be all your yard needs for the week, saving you time and gas and from mowing unnecessarily. Figuring out the correct routine for mowing and edging can give you more flexibility when caring for your lawn. 

During the summer, if you have actively growing warm-season grass, you will want to edge it every time you mow. This will keep the yard looking clean and prevent shaggy edges from becoming the norm. During dormant seasons you may be able to mow 3 or 4 times before you need to edge again. Keep an eye on the lines you make each time you edge and try for deeper cuts to reduce the frequency you need to do it. 

Signs it’s Time to Edge

Weed Whacker

It is really easy to tell when it’s time to edge again. When you are mowing, you will notice the obstructions in the yard are starting to become overgrown with grass. Trimming this up will expose edges that can be sliced precisely to give your lawn more definition and a cleaner appearance. 

When weeds start to pop up, it is a good idea to try and take them out by the roots and edge them to the dirt. If you get broadleaf weeds before they have time to set seeds, you can reduce the amount of herbicide you will need to use the following growing season. Weeds like to form on the edge of the lawn, so keeping the paths trimmed and clean can save you a lot of weed hassle all year round.

Areas around sidewalks and flowerbeds are easier to keep clean if you can see the divide between the path and grass. A sharp edge that goes down to the soil works the best and can keep edge obstructions to a minimum. Pests that cannot hide in this edge turf will find another home and reduce the number of insects you see near your entryways.