The First Mow of the Season – Helping Your Lawn Through the Start of Spring

The First Mow of the Season - Helping Your Lawn Through the Start of Spring

Temperatures are warming up, and that means it will soon be time to start mowing. What do you need to do to prepare for the first mow of the season, and what do you need to do to get your grass off to a good start?

Making Sure Your Mower is Ready

A fresh tank of fuel and some clean oil will help the engine run, but when it comes to cut quality, everything is dependent on your mower’s blades. Dull blades will tear grass instead of cutting it, leaving damaged tips that are open to infection.

If you’re sharpening Microcut blades, remember that the flat sides of the lower blade and the sides opposite of the wings on the upper blade do the cutting. The edge of the blade should have a continuous edge that’s as sharp as a butter knife. After sharpening, check the blade balance. If you don’t have a blade balancer, simply hang the blade on a nail. File down the side that tilts down until the blade sits evenly. If the blades are severely worn or have signs of cracking or bending, they need to be replaced.

Making the First Cut

The right cutting height will depend on the grass you have on your lawn. For most turf grasses, this means waiting until it’s three inches tall, then cutting it back to two inches. Other varieties like Zenith zoysia need to be cut back once they reach one-and-a-half inches. This can take a while as the grass will grow slower while coming out of hibernation. As always, limit the cut to 1/3 of the total grass height at a time. If the grass grows past the recommended height, cut part of it with the first mow, then get it to the desired height with a second mow three or more days later.

Even if the grass is growing, the ground needs to be fully thawed before mowing. If there’s freezing weather in the forecast, hold off a few days to let the tuft recover.


Wait for the grass to wilt a little before the first watering. This will trick the grass into thinking the weather is going to turn dry, forcing it to grow deeper roots that will help it resist heat and droughts in the summer.


A thick layer of thatch can hold in moisture, causing drainage issues and mold growth. It’s good practice to take care of thatch in the fall, but problems may not show up until the spring. If this layer of material is over half an inch thick, removing it now will help the grass throughout the year. Wait until the second or third mowing to give the ground a chance to dry out and new grass to thicken up so it can withstand the action of the dethatcher.

Spring Deadspot

This fungus can hibernate for up to two years, blooming shortly after the grass starts growing in the spring. Infections will create circular patches of brown grass. It can be treated with a fungicide and prevented by managing thatch thickness and keeping the lawn watered during the summer. Overuse of nitrogen when fertilizing in the fall can also encourage fungus growth.

Snow Mold

Pink and gray snow mold can take hold of grass if there were heavy snowfalls early in the winter before the ground had a chance to freeze. The added moisture opens the door for the growth of this mold when temperatures rise.

Like deadspot, the first signs of snow mold pop up as circular patches of brown grass. This is usually coupled with visible mold and, in severe cases, mushrooms. Snow mold starts growing once temperatures are around 30°F and keep growing until temperatures are regularly in the mid-40s for gray snow mold and as high as 60°F for pink snow mold.

This mold can be killed off by helping the grass dry out. Hold off on watering and gently rake matted grass to increase exposure. Keep the grass cut to the recommended height. Fungicides are rarely necessary, but a severe infection can be stopped by applying thiophanate-methyl. Managing thatch, controlling thatch levels and spreading out snow banks can keep this mold from taking hold of your lawn.

Getting Your Mower Ready for Spring

Is your mower due for a new set of blades? Have a few minor things to fix before you put it to work? has everything you need to prepare for the season. Built-in parts diagrams and factory descriptions make it easy to use our search engine to find parts, and we can ship your order to any address in the United States or Canada.

Best Honda Lawn Equipment for Late Summer Lawn Care

Honda Lawn EquipmentThe high temperatures and low rainfall of midsummer are hard on your lawn, which makes it important to do what you can during this stressful period and before winter hibernation. While you may need to rent some specialty devices, the Honda equipment you already own can aid and sometimes replace these devices when preparing your lawn for fall.


Foot traffic and construction can compact the soil over time, which can keep oxygen and water from reaching the root system. A coring aerator gets the best results since it removes compacted soil instead of pushing it to break it up. The cores left behind can be chopped up by your mower, but this is hard on the blade, so it will need to be sharpened before you next mow.


If the thatch layer, the dead material on the surface of the soil, is over a half inch thick, it should be removed using a dethatching rake or power dethatcher. This loosened thatch can then be mowed and bagged for disposal. Mulching the grass can reduce thatch buildup by keeping the microorganisms in the top layer of the soil well fed so they be able to tackle woodier plant material.


Fertilizing starts with your mower: mulching breaks down the grass into small pieces that are easy for microorganisms to digest, returning nutrients to the soil. By using a mower with Honda’s Twin Blade system, you can even mulch when the grass is wet for maximum nutrient recovery.

There are plenty of specially blended fall fertilizers on the market, but before you start the application, you need to have the soil tested to make sure you’re feeding your lawn what it needs. After application, the lawn can be mowed after granular fertilizers have been applied after watering, while liquid fertilizers should be allowed to dry for 24 hours.

Applying Herbicides and Insecticides

In the late summer and early fall, broadleaf plants like dandelions are preparing for winter by transferring carbohydrates to their roots. By applying herbicides during this period, these poisons will be drawn into the roots, killing the entire plant. Have a grub problem? Now is the time to apply an insecticide to stop their growth.


Once the soil preparation is finished, it’s time to overseed any bald spots so they can take root and get ready for the winter. Mowing the grass at your mower’s lowest height and bagging the clippings will help the seeds get maximum contact with the soil, and it will help the new grass grow along with the old, evening out your lawn.

Pruning and Trimming

Late summer is the perfect time to trim shrubs and bushes, and with Honda’s VersAttach pruner and hedge trimmer, you can have all the tools you need to get the job done quickly.

If you’re dealing with an old or overgrown shrub, cutting back a third of the oldest, thickest branches will encourage the growth of new stems from the root of the plant. Once the shrub is at the right height, cut the top off after it’s had a chance to grow another 6-8 inches. Shaping the plant so that the base is wider than the bottom will increase sunlight exposure.


Tall grass helps retain moisture at the peak of summer temperatures, but it’s also a good idea to keep the turf layer thick into early fall to push out weeds, make it harder for grubs to hatch and more easily identify areas that need to be seeded. Most grass varieties should be kept at a height of two to three inches for optimum coverage. Unless you’re overseeding, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass at one time: this helps the grass recover faster. After mowing, check the grass for tearing at the tips, which indicates a dull mower blade.


Using your string trimmer or brush cutter, you can create narrow trenches around landscaping features and between the lawn and paved areas. The resulting borders help features stand out, and they can halt the ingress of plant roots into your sidewalks and driveway. Doing this in the fall will help these borders survive the winter, making it easy to re-establish gardens and thick mulched areas underneath trees next spring.

Keep Your Equipment Ready with Parts from Honda Lawn Parts is a certified Honda Power Equipment and Small Engines dealer, so we carry everything you need to keep your lawn care equipment working. Our site has built-in parts diagrams to make it easy to find what you need, and we can ship those parts anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Honda Mower Twin Blade Advantage

When it comes to walk-behind lawnmowers, most modern mowers perform flawlessly given ideal conditions. In reality, most homeowners seldom have ideal conditions. Juggling work schedules and dodging Mother Nature’s wrath frequently means mowing grass which is either too tall, too wet, or a combination of both. Many homeowners also have to navigate through uneven terrain and around existing landscaping, both of which may limit the ability to alternate mowing patterns. It is under less-than-ideal conditions such as these where the Honda Mower Twin Blade Advantage sets Honda mowers apart from the competition. Continue reading