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When should I get my lawnmower out for first cut? – BBC


Have you been itching to get back into the garden and cut the grass now that March and the meteorological spring have arrived?
The dry weather in February has led to a significant improvement in ground conditions and maybe you've already had a tinker in the garden.
But can you cut the grass too early and when is the best time of year for the first cut?
Adrienne Armstrong has been a gardener with Belfast City Council for about 40 years and is one of the team that looks after Botanic Gardens.
When she started in the business there would be no talk of grass cutting from the end of October to the end of February.
But she has noticed a gradual change in our weather and, as a result, a change in the growth pattern of wildflowers, garden plants and of course grass.
These days the gardening team would consider a cut in the winter months if there was a mild spell and a noticeable growth.
The important thing is to set the blade high and only take off the brown tips, says Adrienne.
That way, if there is a sudden cold spell and a frost, the lawn won't be damaged as there's still plenty of grass to protect the cells at the roots.
The frost risk can continue until well into May.
The forecast for next week is for a change to much colder weather with night frosts, a wind chill and even some wintry showers.
Snow is not out of the question, especially for the high ground.
Frost literally freezes the grass so it becomes rigid.
If walked on, the leaf cells rupture and damage the individual blades of grass.
So unless you and your pets can hover, making footprints in the grass might not be fun if you love your lawn.
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There's more to frost than it just being cold
The damage can take months to repair and the advice is never mow the lawn when there is frost or the ground is frozen.
Adrienne suggests you keep the lawnmower blade high and the cut light and then gradually lower the blades as the weather turns warmer and ground conditions improve.
The soil temperature needs to be around 10C for any significant growth to develop and it can be April or even May before we get close to that value.
Another excellent reason to leave your grass alone just now is to help the bees.
Dandelions start to appear in March and they are a major food source for the honey bee before other plants start to bloom.
So there are lots of good reasons not to cut the grass as it's much better for the environment and the planet.
We need the pollinators to help keep the world spinning – literally.
Emma Thompson is a beekeeper in Ballygowan, County Down – she's urging people to keep a wild corner in their garden where the lawn isn't mown.
These natural, re-wilded areas are vital to all pollinators for food, including butterflies who are in rapid decline.
Of course, there is a place for a formal lawn.
Allen Gallagher is the greenkeeper at Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast.
He says that once spring arrives mow if the weather is warm but he agrees with Adrienne that you should keep the blade high.
You don't want to destroy the early spring bulbs, such as crocuses, snow drops and daffodils.
Interestingly Adrienne leaves her gardening tools at work and has a minimal garden at home with no lawn to worry about.
And why not? It gives her more time to enjoy a chilled drink in the fresh air.
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