How High Should Grass Be Cut?
Keeping your grass healthy and at the right height is important if you want to enjoy it. If you don’t know how high the grass should be cut, you will have difficulty keeping your landscape looking great. This can lead to many problems down the road that are very difficult to solve.
There are different factors that decide how high grass should be cut. So, you need to do some research before deciding how much of an adjustment needs to be made with regard to cutting the lawn.
Our guide below can help answer this question for you and teach you more about cutting lawns in general.
The Rule of Thumb
How high should you cut the grass when you mow? The general rule of thumb for determining how high the grass should be cut is only to cut off no more than one-third of the height of your lawn. Each mowing should only remove about the top third of the grass blade.
It’s recommended that you stick to this rule of thumb and a lesser degree in spring. If you can’t remember the measurements in summer, consider mowing at a greater height. It’s also a good idea to choose one of the higher settings of your lawnmower wheels when the weather is hot or dry and mow at that height until you approach the fall season and the weather starts to cool off a bit.
Factors to Consider on the Rule of Thumb
Types of Grass
The first thing that you will have to think about is the type of grass lawn you have. Some people don’t realize it, but there are different types of grass, and they all grow at different speeds and heights. Every grass type has its mowing height.
Keeping the Weeds Away
The next factor to think about is weed control. Weeds love growing in tall grass, and it’s important that you keep theirs under control. If you leave your grass too long, the weeds will take hold and ruin your lawn and use up a lot of water and nutrients from the soil.
Keep the Bugs Away
That’s not the only reason to keep your grass short. Bugs also like heat, and just like humans, they spend their time in shadier, cooler places. If you have a very tall lawn, it will grow over these areas and make them hotter because there won’t be any shade for the bugs to escape the heat.
In addition, too long grass is difficult to mow, and long grass clippings have to be removed and cannot be left on the lawn.
Laziness Doesn’t Pay
Keeping your grass cut short is also better for you. It’s far easier to maintain a shorter lawn because it requires less mowing, meaning that you can advance the cutting height more often. The mowing frequency depends on your grass type, its optimal height, and the grass growth speed, depending on the weather conditions.
For instance, cool grass such as Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue grows faster during the cool spring and fall weather. While the exact heights vary depending on the grass type, the range of cool-season turf is between 1 and 5 inches.
Different Grasses Require Different Mowing Heights
All lawns are not the same. For instance, cut the grass too short, it becomes stressed, thin and you’ll be left with a shallower root system. Cutting the grass crowns will also make the turf vulnerable to weed pressure and require pesticide applications to prevent weeds and discourage pests.
Warm season grasses such as zoysia grass and Bermuda will tolerate a shorter, tighter cut, while cool season grasses like fescue and bluegrass need to be mowed taller to help shade the root system and keep heat stress away.
Mowing Too Low Damages Grass
Mowing your lawn too low will have a detrimental effect on your grass. When you cut the grass too low, it causes damage to the plant’s crown and results in a weaker root system, making your lawn more vulnerable to weeds, disease, and pests.
Mowing Too Low Damages Grass
Mowing too low reduces the density of the grass, making the lawn susceptible to invasive summer weed pressures. By mowing your grass too low, you may unknowingly be promoting crabgrass to grow because shade provided by higher cut grass blades shields the crabgrass seeds from much-needed sunlight.
Mowing too low also makes the turf vulnerable to summer heat. Without taller grass blades to shade the summer sun, low mowing can lead to stress damage quickly during long periods of summer drought.
How Short To Cut Grass in Spring?
At a minimum, it is best to cut turf no shorter than 3 inches during the early spring. If you have been postponing trimming your lawn because there was snow on the ground and cold weather, do not be tempted to mow just yet. Wait until grass blades begin hardening off on their own as summer approaches.
Mow cool season grass to a height of 3 inches tall and cut warm season grasses as low as half an inch up to 1.5 inches.
What Height Should Grass be Cut in Summer?
As temperature rises, your lawn height also goes up in summer. So, as the summer arrives, raise your mower height for cool season grasses and keep it closer to four inches. A taller plant shades the soil and keeps the root zone cooler during high heat periods. If you allow your lawn to grow too tall, it can result in broader leaf blades, lower plant density, and more susceptibility to turf diseases.
The Best Height to Cut Grass in the Fall
When inching into the fall, mid-length grass is the preference. Tall grass can get matted and become diseased in winter, but lawn roots can get exposed to extremely damagingly cold temperatures when you cut too short. So, focus on striking a balance in fall to prepare your lawn for winter.
Cut your cool season grass to about 2.5 inches before the first frost in winter and mow warm season grasses to two inches in fall.
How Often Should You Mow Your Grass?
Having a routine mowing schedule for your lawn is key. Grass will grow at different rates depending on fertilization, season, and weather conditions. Grass that is too long will not only make your lawn look shaggy, but it can also lead to problems with the health of your grass.
Long grass can prevent water, sunlight, and nutrients from getting to the soil, which can cause your grass to turn yellow or brown. It can also increase weed growth and create an environment where insects and diseases can thrive.
What is the One-Third Rule?
Regardless of your grass species, you shouldn’t remove more than one third of the grass height when mowing. This is important because the grass is a living plant, and they all undergo some stress when cut.
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FAQs on How High Should Grass be Cut
Can you mow your lawn when it’s wet?
No, avoid mowing your lawn when it’s wet because other than jamming the lawn mower blades and clogging the discharge chute, wet grass can also leave clumps of grass on the lawn. Grass collecting on the mower blades also aids in tearing the grass much like a dull blade. Keeping your lawn mower blade sharp shouldn’t be overstated.
How often should the mower blade get sharpened?
Keep your mower blade sharpened as a cleaner cutting blade results in less stress on the turf. A dull mower blade rips and shreds the grass leaf, making the plant susceptible to disease. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen your blade every ten mower hours.
Final Thought on How High Should Grass be Cut
As you can see, keeping your lawn about two and a half inches tall and leaving the grass slightly taller about three inches in the shady areas will maintain a healthy lawn. It is also important to keep your mower blade sharpened and collect the grass clippings. Follow these tips, and you will be on your way to a lush, green lawn.
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