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In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook gives tips on getting a perfect-cut lawn.

Steps for Mowing Your Lawn:

  1. Remove the dipstick and check the oil level while the engine is cold; never run the engine with low oil.
  2. Unscrew the gas cap and check the gas level. When refilling, don't spill gas on grass or asphalt driveway.
  3. Adjust the mower's cutting height to 3 inches or 3½ inches.
  4. Check the sharpness of the blades. If they are dull, sharpen or replace them. Dull blades rip the grass, which promotes fungi diseases.
  5. Use the grass-clipping collection bag when cutting tall grass, wet grass, or a newly seeded lawn.
  6. When using a mulching blade, be sure to install the discharge chute plug to block flying projectiles.
  7. Squeeze and hold the safety bar prior to starting the engine. Releasing the safety bar automatically shuts off the engine.
  8. Change the mowing pattern between grass cuttings to prevent wheel ruts.
  9. Avoid missing any grass by slightly overlapping each pass.
  10. Mow close to obstructions, but not so close as to hit them with the mower. Instead, come back later and clean up the grass with a string trimmer.
  11. Dump grass clippings from the collection bag into a wheelbarrow and deposit them into a compost pile.
  12. When mowing alongside flowerbeds, be careful that the mower's wheels don't roll into the bed or you'll scalp the lawn.