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Mowing height for the winter, what height should your lawn have?

Winter is fast approaching, and your lawn needs to be made winter-ready so that it will be ready for the new season. During the winter, the temperature will drop, and the growth of the grass becomes slower. But this doesn’t mean no maintenance is needed. One of the most important preparations is mowing it to the right height.  It will not only make your garden looks tidy, but also it will make it bloom in the spring.

Mowing height for the winter, what height should your lawn have:

The general rule of thumb is to cut the grass according to the one-third rule. You should only cut one-third of the grass blade during a single mowing. Using this formula will save your lawn from getting damaged during the winter season and ensure that the grass will start growing strongly in the spring. And will have that lush green look.

(CC BY 2.0) by simpleinsomnia

Mowing height can vary depending on which type of grass you have and the region you live in. This article aims at providing you the information about different breeds of grasses and to what extent each type should be cut during the winter season. The blog post will give you the right techniques to help you make your garden look like the lawn you like to have.

Cutting your grass before the winter season starts

Before the winter season starts, you must cut the grass to its lowest level. If you don’t, the frost will stick in and damage the grass. This damage might not be evident to you before the spring starts, and by that time, it is too late. The ideal height for mowing before the winter season is two and a half inches. Any higher grass should be cut off at that particular height.

Different grass types have different recommended mowing heights

Extensive research has been done on the different types of grasses, and they can be divided into winter season grass and summer season grass. The categorization has been done based on the areas in which they bloom. For example, the winter season grass is ideal for places where the temperature remains colder. The summer season grass is perfect for areas where the temperature is hot during the summers. The summer season grass is strong enough to bear the hot breezes, and the cold season grass handles the cold snow of the winters better.

Both types of grasses photosynthesize by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen during their growth, but they differ in how this process occurs. Winter season grass photosynthesizes with the three-carbon compounds, while the summer season does it with four carbon compounds. This differentiates them in how they should be maintained, the amount of sun, oxygen, and nutrients required for their bloom.

The table below shows different types of grasses and to what extent they should be mowed,

Type of Grass
Recommended mowing height (inches)
Mow when it reaches this height (inches)
Annual ryegrass
1.5 – 2
2.25 – 3
Bermuda grass (seeded)
1 – 1.5
1.5 – 2.25
Buffalo grass
1 – 2
1.5 – 3
Centipede grass              
Colonial bentgrass
0.5 – 1
0.75 – 1.5
Creeping bentgrass       
0.5 inch or less
0.75 inch or less
0.5 – 0.75
0.75 – 1.125
Hard fescue
1.5 – 2.5
2.25 – 3.75
Hybrid Bermuda
0.5 – 1
0.75 – 1.5
Kentucky bluegrass
3- 4.5
Kikuyu grass
1 – 1.5
1.5 – 2.25
Perennial ryegrass
1.5 – 2.5
2.25 – 3.75
Red fescue
1.5 – 2.5
2.25 – 3.75
St. Augustine grass
Tall fescue
1.5 – 3
2.5 – 4
Zoysia grass
0.5 – 1
0.75 – 1.5

– Winter season grasses

In the winter season, turfgrasses such as the bluegrasses, ryegrasses, and tall fescue should be mowed the same as they have been mowed in the summer season, the people who mowed it to the same length during the past year shared their experience, and the growth of their lawn was commendable during the spring season.

– Summer season grasses

Summer season grasses are using four-carbon compounds and need more sunlight for their photosynthesis. Summer season grasses such as Zoysiagrass and St. Augustine are not shading tolerant, and they might start to dull if too much shade is present around them. The roots might even be damaged if the leaves are grown too much. Thus it is recommended that you cut them shorter so that more air can penetrate. The best practice is to cut them even shorter than the recommended height.

However, during the winter season, these grasses’ types should not be cut shorter, and they should be left slowly growing longer. This will help the plant cope with the cold winter breezes going down to the roots, thus better surviving the cold weather. While ensuring your garden’s grass sustainability in the winter, you should also keep in mind that it can fall prey to the attack on small insects if it grows too high. Therefore, you must maintain a reasonable height during the winter season while ensuring that the soil is adequately treated for these attacks. Else you would start to notice small patches in your garden as the spring begins.

The University of Minnesota extension service recommends that homeowners keep mowing the grass until it stops growing in the late months of fall. The garden should be maintained well, and any signs of disease must be taken seriously. Pesticides should only be used after consultation with the garden experts. Else pesticides can make tunnels in the lawn which will be noticeable once the snow cover shades off.

Six things you should do with your lawn before the start of the winter season

  • 2 ½ inches: Mow the lawn to 2 1/2  inches
  • Aerate: Aerate the lawn before the fall season ends
  • Fertilize: Fertilize your garden. The experts of gardening agree that the lawn should be fertilized during the fall season.
  • Remove weeds: Check your garden and if there are any weeds, Preempt them out of your lawn
  • Remove leaves: Clear the leaves from the garden and fill out any blank patches.

If you have used these tips before winter kicks in, you can enjoy a cozy winter indoors, and your lawn will be ready for the spring.

Adopt proper mowing practices

The length of mowing matters, but the practices you adopt for your lawn are much more crucial for its proper bloom.  A proverb says that the best home garden must seem like the lawn of a golf course, which can only be achieved by adopting the right practices. Do you wonder what these practices are? Well, let’s discuss the best mowing practices so that you get familiar with them to make your lawn look like the one of a golf course.

  • Mow frequently: Keep frequently mowing to get proper growth of the leaves; don’t let the grass grow so much that it weakens the roots.
  • Remove weeds: Dig out the weeds so that they do not start seeding and become a forest.
  • Leave some clips: When you mow the grass, leave the clips or cut pieces in the lawn, the clips are a good source of nitrogen for the soil, and it will help to strengthen the roots.
  • Change the pattern: Keep changing the pattern of mowing in the lawn. The grass starts to grow in the direction in which it is mowed. Variation in the mowing shall help you keep the field green and prevent growth in a particular direction.
  • Sharp lawn mower blades: Regularly sharpen the mowing blades. This will help you cut the grass sharply and prevent the grass from the shard. The dull blades do not cut off the grass and simply pull and shard it, which is not good for their health.
  • Watering: Water the grass regularly and make sure it gets passed on to the roots. Watering the grass properly will help in proper nourishment of the roots and equal distribution of the fertilizer.

When should I stop mowing my lawn

Many people doubt when to stop mowing. The general rule of thumb is to stop cutting when the grass stops growing. The growth of grass occurs when the soil is hot and provides energy for its growth, and the stop in growth indicates that the ground has started to become cold. In most parts of the world, the grass stops growing during the end of the autumn, and thus, you can plan your last mow accordingly.

Before the winter begins, make sure that the grass’s length is optimal, and it is not grown too much to attract the pesticides, else the snow will cover and the grass during the winter season, and without you even realizing the problem, they will eat the roots.

Managing photosynthesis and better food supply

In most parts of the world, the winter season is awful for the growth of grass. As the temperature nears freezing, the growth starts to decrease, and the grass begins to store energy for the winter season. This process of decrease in growth and storage of energy is called dormancy.

During the winter season, the length of grass should be according to the one-third rule. This will give your lawn enough breathing space, and the grown leaves will ensure that the roots are getting enough energy for their survival. Don’t let the leaves pile up too much because they might block the sunlight causing damage to the roots. Depending on which type of grass you have put into your garden, you will have to mow it every few weeks until it stops growing so that it remains nicely trimmed to get enough sunlight to continue with the photosynthesis process.

Final remarks

A Garden is a place where you spend a lot of time with your family and friends. It is essential to keep it clean and healthy and mow it at the correct height to prepare it for the winter season. Winter can damage the grass if not given proper care and using the right techniques. The tips that we have provided in this blog will help you maintain your garden well and prepare it for the colder season to expect a beautiful lawn in the spring.