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Should You Edge Your Lawn Or Mow First? [What You Need To Know]

Everyone knows that mowing and edging are integral parts of achieving the best yard in the neighborhood. But if it's your first time to mow and edge, you might be wondering if it matters which should be done first. For your convenience, we brought you the answer.

There is no "right" order when it comes to mowing and edging. But it's generally a good idea to mow first, as doing so cleans up the bulk of the lawn which can make it easier to see to edge the lawn afterward. 

If you still have some questions about mowing and edging your lawn, don't worry. In this post, we'll discuss the topic in more detail. We'll also talk about the purpose of edging a lawn, whether you should edge every time you mow, and how to mow and edge like a pro. Without further ado, let's get into it!

A woman is using a string trimmer to edge the lawn along the driveway. Should You Edge Your Lawn Or Mow First [What You Need To Know]

The Best Approach To Mowing And Edging

Again, there is no "right" approach when it comes to the order of your routine lawn care regimen. With that said, there is a logical approach that has a clear benefit, and that is mowing first, then edging.

Mowing the lawn first cleans up the lawn and makes the edges of the lawn more visible. When it comes time to edge, you won't have to guess where the lawn abuts the driveway, sidewalk, or walkway; you'll be able to clearly see it since you cut down the bulk of the grass first (more on this later).

This sequence can be especially helpful if the lawn is very overgrown. The longer the grass is, the more difficult it will be to see the boundary of the lawn. Trying to edge tall grass increases the likelihood of making an imprecise cut and botching the perfectly manicured look you're going for.

Summer and spring season sunny lawn mowing in the garden.

What Is The Purpose Of Edging A Lawn?

If you're new to lawn care in general, you might not quite understand what the purpose of edging actually is.

The purpose of edging a lawn is to make it look clean and crisp and to generally keep the grass growth under control. Edging keeps grass from going where it isn't supposed to. Overgrown grass that spills over the lawn area onto the driveway or sidewalk looks sloppy, and edging helps keep the grass in check. 

The reality is that many homeowners don't take the time to thoroughly edge their lawn, and this is precisely why you should. Edging is a great way to make your lawn stand out. 

Weed eater in action trimming edge of pathway

Do You Edge Every Time You Mow?

You don't necessarily need to edge every time you mow. Depending on the time of year and how frequently you choose to mow, the lawn might not warrant edging each time you mow.

To determine whether or not your lawn needs edging, simply assess its condition while you mow. If the grass is noticeably growing over adjacent surfaces (the driveway, sidewalk, flower bed, etc.), then you should edge. 

That said, it's never a bad idea to go ahead and edge each time you mow. Doing so will ensure that your lawn maintains that crisp edge that's the hallmark of a well-manicured lawn.

What's more, you might not need to edge the entire yard each time you mow; simply cleaning up the main problem areas will keep your yard looking great.

Read more: How Often Should You Edge Your Lawn?

How Do You Mow Like A Pro?

We've talked quite a bit about edging, but the reality is mowing is just as important as edging when it comes to your lawn care routine. 

Below are a few pointers to help you mow like a pro:

Prioritize Safety

The first step in mowing like a pro is prioritizing safety. And that means wearing safety glasses and closed-toe shoes. Rocks, dirt, and debris can fly up while mowing, so eye protection is vital. And it goes without saying that mowing can pose a risk to your feet, hence the protective footwear.

Wait For The Grass To Dry

For the best results, be sure to cut your lawn when the grass is dry. This means letting the morning dew evaporate before getting started. This will yield a better end result than cutting wet grass.

Read more: Can You Mow a Wet Lawn? [And How To Do That The RIGHT Way!]

landscape view of a large patch of some freshly cut, healthy, green grass mowed in a checkerboard pattern.

Plan Your Pattern And Alternate Each Mow

Before getting started, plan your pattern. Map out the route you plan on taking to ensure it is executed perfectly. And each time you mow, alternate the pattern to give your lawn the best look possible.

This will prevent the grass from getting matted down in any given direction from repeated mows in the same direction. It will also prevent noticeable wheel marks in the grass, giving your lawn a clean, uniform appearance.

Wheels on electric lawn mower in garden to cut grass in yard

Set The Mower To The Appropriate Height

Setting the mower to the appropriate height is critical. It's recommended to ensure the lawn is cut to a height of 3 inches every time you mow. This is the healthiest mowing height for both the grass blades and the roots. 

Keep in mind that this might mean that your mower deck is set to the highest setting. To be as accurate as possible, place a ruler down into the grass and measure from the base of the blades of grass to the mower deck to ensure the deck is 3 inches high.

Go Slow

Take your time with the process, especially if you lack experience. Treating it like a race will yield undesirable results. Try to think of mowing the lawn not as a tedious chore but as an opportunity to really make your yard look its best. 

string trimmer cutting the grass along a concrete sidewalk.

How Do You Edge Like A Pro?

A proper lawn mowing job will significantly improve the look of your lawn, but there's more that can be done. As mentioned, edging the lawn is what really takes it to the next level.

Here are a few tips that will help you edge like a pro:

Prioritize Safety

As with mowing, the first part of edging like a pro is dressing accordingly. Safety glasses and closed-toe shoes should be worn along with long pants. Edgers can sling up all kinds of debris at a significant velocity, so long pants are a must to protect your legs. 

Go Slow

Going slow is even more important when it comes to edging. Mistakes when mowing generally aren't too noticeable, but edging can be quite unforgiving. Going slow allows you to "stay ahead of the edger" so to speak. Ensure your movement—including your foot movement—is slow and deliberate.

Maintain Control Of The Edger

Control the edger, don't let it control you. Some edgers can be quite heavy, especially those that are gas powered. It's all too easy to let the edger get out of control, resulting in imprecise cuts. Maintain positive control of the edger at all times to ensure your safety and the aesthetic of your lawn.

Edge The Lawn At A 90-Degree Angle

Edging the lawn at a 90-degree angle (perpendicular to the ground as opposed to giving it a tapered, sloping edge) will yield the best results in terms of the aesthetic of your lawn and the health of the grass.

This tip is only applicable if you're using a string trimmer to edge your lawn, as a string trimmer is really the only type of edger that allows you to do anything other than a perpendicular cut. 

Don't Stand Or Walk On The Grass

Edging is all about making that precision cut all along the edge of the lawn. To optimize your sight picture of the border between the grass and the adjacent surface, stand on the adjacent surface (driveway, sidewalk, etc.). 

If you stand on the grass, it will be more difficult to identify where the grass meets the adjacent concrete. This is especially true for lawns with a significant slope.

mowing grass on a lawn using trimmer. Should You Edge Your Lawn Or Mow First [What You Need To Know]

In Closing

We hope this guide has equipped you with the know-how to tackle your lawn care with confidence. If you follow the guidance outlined in this post, you'll be well on your way to having a well-manicured lawn and being the envy of the neighborhood. 

Before you go, be sure to check out these related guides to perfect your lawn:

Can You Mow Over Lawn Edging? [Mow Strips 101]

Which Side Of The Lawn Mower Blade Is Up?