Regular mowing helps your lawn stay lush and green. When the weather has warmed up and the grass is getting enough sun and water, the lawn should be mowed about once a week. Don't cut the grass too short or it could start to die. You shouldn't take more than one-third off the top of the grass. Alternating the patterns you use when you mow the lawn also makes a difference in the health of the grass.
Whatever the pattern you use, you should alternate the pattern each time you mow the lawn. This will help the grass to grow straight and tall instead of lying down in one direction, which doesn't look good and makes it more difficult to cut the grass evenly each time. Also, alternating the pattern will prevent wheel marks from your mower from being permanently embedded into the grass, especially with riding mowers.
Ring Around the Yard
You should always start by taking at least two passes around the outside edge of the yard. If the yard is surrounded mostly by fences or buildings, then you should probably take three passes. This will give you room to turn if you are striping the lawn and will ensure that the edges of the lawn are mowed evenly.
If you have a side-bagging mower, then you will want the bagging side to be on the inside facing the middle of the lawn so that you can mow right up against any wall. Even if there are no walls, you will want to do this to prevent any rocks or other debris from shooting out from the mower across a sidewalk or street.
One of the easiest patterns to do is to just continue making passes around the edge in smaller and smaller rings around the lawn. You don't have to make any 180 degree turns and you won't feel the need to mow as much in a straight line. Although this pattern is convenient, it won't give the nice striping effect that you see on baseball fields and golf courses.
Striping is simply mowing across the yard in one pass and then making a 180-degree turn and taking the next pass in the opposite direction while overlapping slightly on the first pass. Continue to alternate directions until you have mowed the entire yard. The passes will alternate light and dark green because the grass is bent in different directions due to being mowed in different directions. The taller the grass, the greater the effect.
You can use this pattern every week by mowing in a line perpendicular to the previous week. So, if you mow horizontally across the yard one week, you can mow verically the next. You can add further variety by mowing diagonally the third week and then mowing the fourth week diagonally at an angle perpendicular to the third week.
If you have a riding mower and you want to increase the striping effect, you can drag a roller behind the mower that is designed for striping.
If you have a difficult time making 180-degree turns, especially with a riding mower, you can use the same pattern Zambonis use to clean and smooth the ice in a hockey rink. After taking a couple of passes around the outside of the lawn, take a pass right down the middle of the lawn, then go to one of the outside edges and take a pass in the opposite direction. Go back to the middle and take a pass next to the first pass on the side opposite of the second pass and continue with this pattern. This will have the effect of using slightly overlapping oval passes and this will also leave the lawn with half of it being a dark green and the other half being light green.
You can alternate this each week by starting the first pass on a line perpendicular to the first pass the previous week.