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How short should you cut your grass?

Monday, April 15 2013 12:15 PM

All lawns are different, but there are a few universal rules for mowing height. Generally speaking, taller is better for most grasses. As we dive deep into April, remember that spring mowing is important to the health of your lawn. Spring mowing should start while it’s still cool outside, but after the ground in no longer frozen. Once your grass starts to green and grow more rapidly, it’s time to start mowing on a consistent basis.

Don’t cut your grass too short during any season. Most experts will tell you a healthy lawn will typically be about 2-3 inches tall. This includes most grass types such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Buffalograss, St. Augustine and Ryegrass. This height allows roots grow deeper into the soil, where they can tap into natural moisture and nutrients. 2-3 inches prevents crabgrass and weeds from penetrating the soil which will lead to less lawn maintenance. A taller lawn also creates a thinker, stronger blade which will help your lawn look full and green. Learn more about your specific grass type to determine the exact recommended mowing height, some warm climate grasses can safely be cut shorter than 2 inches.

Generally you can cut your lawn a little shorter in the spring and fall, but leave grass tall in the hot summer months. Shading the soil with taller grass blades also allows water to soak in with less evaporation, which means less watering is required. The deeper roots created will also be stronger more tolerant when there is less rain and soil drys out faster in the heat and sun.

Another common rule on mowing is the one-third rule: Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass height at one time. So if your lawn is exceptionally tall, you may need to mow with your blade at its tallest setting, then return in a few days to cut back to your normal height.  Drastic cuts in height can shock and damage grass blades. Mow on a consistent scheduled and at a consistent height for the best results.

With a taller lawn, be aware of thatch. Thatch can develop over time, especially with a taller lawn. Thatch is a build up of grass clippings and debris that collects on the ground. Too much thatch can lead to sun, oxygen and water not reach the soil. Aerating the lawn will help with thatch. If your lawn isn’t staying as green or if it is thinning, take a close look at the soil and consider aerating.

Lastly, always an important note when mowing, keep your mower blade sharp, a clean cut on grass blades keeps your grass healthy and a bad cut can damage grass blades and make your lawn unhealthy.

Happy mowing!