You may not be looking for a perfectly manicured front yard, but keeping a tidy lawn isn't difficult.

©iStockphoto.com/Chad Truemper

Some people fantasize about the perfect lawn. They dream about push mowers, perk up at the smell of fresh-cut grass and tune into The Golf Channel just to see the landscaping. But perhaps you don't live for yard work. Maybe you're a new homeowner staring out the window at a front-yard jungle. The time has certainly come to mow the lawn. How exactly do you pull that off?

Our love affair with a fresh-cut lawn is a relatively new development. For much of history, people remained preoccupied with avoiding starvation and plague. Foot traffic and grazing domestic animals kept the area cleared directly around a home, but the rest of the property was often used for gardening or left for wild plant life. In much of the world, this is still very much the case.

But in the Western world, a well-kept yard has become the rave. The invention of the manual reel mower in 1830 made it possible for regular people to emulate the elegant grounds they saw surrounding palaces and mansions. Today, lawns in the United States alone cover a total of 25 million acres of land [source: EPA].

A nice yard does far more than just add curb appeal. A healthy lawn helps prevent erosion and nutrient runoff while also filtering the air and producing oxygen.

Regular mowings help stave off infectious parasites such as ticks and chiggers. These mowings also serve as the best possible weed control since thick grasses leave nowhere for weeds to encroach.

In this article, we'll look at how to go about mowing your lawn in a way that's safe and healthy for both you and the grass.