The water runoff and wind displacement from ditches can cause soil erosion when lawns aren’t properly maintained. Grass acts as a net to prevent soil from washing away or being blown away.
As these grasses grow taller and thicker, they can prevent water from flowing along the drainage ditch and accumulate debris and sediment. This can lead to standing water and mosquito development.
Mowing ditches prevent invasive weeds from spreading while allowing beneficial native species to thrive. Taking special care when mowing a ditch will ensure that it’s deep enough for proper water drainage and prevent flooding and heavy rainstorm damage. But how to mow a ditch effectively?
Although it may seem intimidating to mow a ditch, it can be relatively simple with proper planning, information, and equipment. The following information will help you understand ditch mowing basics and what to consider when mowing ditches.
How to Mow a Ditch Without Damaging Your Lawn?
While roadside ditch provides an easy way to drain water away from a property, they can also be detrimental to the health of nearby grass if mowed incorrectly. Using the correct equipment and maintaining a wide edge will help you avoid damaging your lawn when you mow a ditch.
You can easily mow a ditch by following the steps below:
Step 01. Identify and Test the Slope
To ensure the job is done correctly and safely, you must adequately identify the slope angle and test the slope before mowing. Estimate the slope length by placing a measuring tape or yardstick across the entire length of the ditch.
Mark the highest and lowest points using brightly colored flags or stakes to help calculate the slope angle. Also, identify the rise of the slope with a level. If the ditch is too steep, you may need to use a push mower or reel mower, as riding mowers are not suited for such slopes.
Step 02. Set Your Mower Blade Height
Setting your mower’s blade height correctly is essential when mowing a ditch. A higher blade height helps minimize soil displacement and reduce the amount of debris thrown into the air.
If you plan to mulch your grass clippings, a higher blade setting also ensures that larger pieces are cut smaller and more evenly distributed.
To begin, raise your mower blade slightly higher than usual, as this can better accommodate dips in the terrain. But be sure to keep it high enough, or it could lead to the scalping of the vegetation in low spots and leave streaks behind in hilly areas.
Step 03. Mow the Sides of the Ditch
Now that your mower blade is set correctly, you can begin mowing. Start by cutting the sides of the ditch first using a side discharge or mulching deck. Make sure to move slowly and avoid going over any bumps or dips in the terrain, as this could cause damage to your equipment.
When mowing, angle your mower so you are cutting at a slightly downward angle, as this will help to guide debris away from your lawn. You should also overlap each pass slightly to ensure a clean, even cut up and down the sides of the ditch.
Step 04. Mow Across and Up the Slope
Once the sides of the ditch have been mowed, you can start mowing across the slope and up. Ensure to drive slowly and evenly, as this will prevent any clumping or scalping of grass. Try to cut in zig-zag patterns to cover the entire surface area with each pass.
Again, angle your mower slightly downward and overlap each pass to ensure a clean cut. Also, take extra caution when moving uphill, as this could cause skidding or slipping if done too quickly. On particularly long slopes, start at the base of the incline and work your way up slowly.
When mowing up and down a slope, reduce your speed and shift more weight onto your back foot while maintaining secure footing on your front foot. Never turn on a steep ditch instead, back away safely when turning around or changing direction.
Step 05. Clean up Excess Clippings
When you are finished mowing, use a rake or broom to collect any excess grass clippings and debris. This will help maintain the aesthetic of your lawn and ensure that no clippings enter any nearby water sources.
Following these five steps, you can safely mow a ditch without harming your lawn. You can easily keep your yard ditch neat and manicured with the proper preparation and equipment.
What are the Recommended Mowers for Ditch-Mowing?
Ditch mowing is no small feat, and you’ll need the right lawn mower. Although several types of lawnmowers are available for use in ditches, not all are made to handle sloppy terrain.
If manual operation is your preference, then a good old-fashioned manual ditch-cutting reel mower (such as a 5-blade ditch-mowing reel mower or 7-blade ditches push reel mower) might do the trick.
These reel mowers are designed to handle moderately steep slopes and hilly terrain. They are also much better for hilly terrain as they have more excellent traction than standard push mowers.
Then there’s the push mower, perfect for those with a smaller yard or needing to mow a ditch quickly. Push mowers are ideal for higher hills and can be powered by either an electric motor (like a 40V Lithium-ion lawnmower) or a gasoline engine (like a gas-powered push lawn mower with a bagger or a gas-powered 5-height positions adjustable lawn mower).
These hand-pushed mowers offer outstanding maneuverability through narrow spaces and are perfect for short grass and weeds.
Last but not least is the riding mower option. This might be your best option if you’ve got hills or larger areas to cover. Riding mowers are often more powerful than their reel-based cousins and can be used on rough terrain thanks to their low center of gravity.
Depending on your choice, ditch mowing can help keep your lawn looking sharp and provide an ideal environment for healthy roadside vegetation growth.
Is it Safe to Use a Riding Mower to Mow a Ditch?
A riding lawn mower brings many benefits because you don’t have to push it around while using it, but this convenience has its limits. When cutting narrow slopes or ditches in your yard, you may want to consider a different type of mower for safety reasons.
While it is possible to use a riding mower on mild slopes and small dips under 15 degrees, any slope above that degree can become dangerous and prone to tipping over. Another hazard associated with riding mowers in these areas is the chance of clogging or being stuck.
Also, when a ditch isn’t appropriately lined, the dirt can quickly build up in certain areas, rendering a place impossible to reach with any mower. If you find yourself in this situation, your best option might be enlisting the help of a manual hand-pulled reel-type mower or engine mower.
Can You Mow a 30-Degree Slope With a Walk-Behind Mower?
No, using a walk-behind mower on a 30-degree slope could be dangerous. In general, walk-behind mowers can handle incline levels up to 20 degrees. Anything more than that increases the risk of an operator slipping or tipping.
You may need to deploy a riding mower’s extra power and suspension for steeper grades. Of course, you should practice extreme caution when operating any lawn mower on a slope. If it’s too steep for a hand-held device, it might be too risky for any motorized tools.
Why Should You Mow Your Ditch With a Push Mower?
Mowing your lawn ditch with a push mower is surprisingly convenient and effective. Rather than wrestling with a traditional riding lawn mower or huffing and puffing as you push a heavy piece of machinery across the grass, you’ll need a simple push mower designed for the job.
The maneuverability of these small machines makes it easy to get around tight corners and up hills. Plus, their modest size means they require less maintenance over time and have a less environmental impact.
These push mowers’ electric counterparts provide an eco-friendly and affordable solution for taking care of your ditches. They are more straightforward to use than their gasoline counterparts, require no gasoline or fuel, produce less noise pollution, have low maintenance costs, and often come with multiple blade heights for different vegetation types.
What is the Fastest Pattern to Mow a Ditch lawn?
Figuring out the fastest way to mow a sloped or ditched lawn can seem impossible, but there’s a method: mowing up and down on a diagonal.
It could be like making steps when walking uphill, each row slightly higher than the previous one. This prevents you from crossing the same spot twice and helps you cover ground quickly while maintaining a neat look.
This technique also improves grass health by reducing compaction and promoting water runoff along its course. So, when your lawn slopes upwards, don’t despair; just mow up and down at an angle.
When is the Best Time to Mow Your Ditch?
It might sound counterintuitive, but the hottest time of day is the most appropriate time to trim your ditch. Mowing your grass in the late afternoon or early evening will help protect its health by slowly evaporating moisture overnight.
So make sure to take frequent breaks and wear plenty of sunscreens when mowing between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., typically when temperatures peak. To get optimal results with minimal stress, try to schedule your ditch-mowing session for an hour or two after dawn before temperatures get too high.
How Often Should You Mow Your Ditch?
Most experts recommend trimming it at least two or three times over the summer months as part of your overall lawn care routine to maintain a neat and tidy lawn-ditch balance. Of course, if your ditch is particularly long and unruly, then more frequent mowing may be required to keep it under control.
On the other hand, if the grass is relatively short, you might get away with cutting it when it becomes too unruly. In any case, the key takeaway is that regular trimming is a must if you want to avoid showing off an enchanted forest of wilting weeds and weeds in your ditch.
Is it Better to Mow a Ditch Fast or Slow?
Cutting a ditch at the right speed is essential for a well-maintained lawn. The question of speed comes down to the critical balance between efficiency and effectiveness. When mowing faster, one can get more done in less time, but mowing slower yields a longer-lasting, better result.
Regarding ditches, slow and steady wins the race every time. Mowing at higher speeds causes grass blades to be cut off too low, damaging the root system and increasing their susceptibility to disease and infection.
A slower speed allows for an even cut across each blade of grass, making photosynthesis easier and providing the plant with all its necessary nutrients. Plus, mowing slowly gives you more of an opportunity to spot any weeds or insects that may have jumped onto your lawn’s party boat.