Mowing Height for Winter, 9 things you should know


Every homeowner likes a lush, healthy, and aesthetically appealing lawn. However, maintaining a beautiful lawn requires lots of effort and care, as every lawn is subject to different weather conditions throughout the year. Winter has always been hard for the lawns because the frost freezes the water inside the grass blades, and even stepping on the grass can damage its blades. 

Mowing Height for Winter:

In general, you should give your lawn a shorter final mow in the fall and allow it to grow up to the upper recommended height during the winter season. This means that your grass should be around 2 to 2 ½ inches high by wintertime. This will ensure good winter grass health and a quick recovery in spring.

Mowing Height for Winter, 9 things you should know 1

This article will give you helpful information about mowing your grass in winter and also discusses what you should do before mowing. Moreover, the blog will share important techniques regarding when to mow and recommend mowing heights to prepare your lawn for the winter.

Why a Lower Mowing Height in Winter?

It can be damaging to leave the grass long in winter. In snowy areas, long grass acts as a ceiling that prevents snow from reaching the ground. This may invite voles and vermin to tunnel under the snow and eat the grassroots, damaging your yard. If the grass is left long for winter, diseases like snow mold and lawn fungus can also occur. Moreover, long grass will stay brown and dormant longer in spring, which increases the chance of weed invasions. So, it’s a good idea to mow your lawn to a healthy height before winter begins.

Mowing frozen grass is bad for your lawn as it causes extreme damage to it. It cannot bear physical stress during this particular time. Mowing frozen or frosted grass causes rupturing of the cells in the plant.

Problems with Overly-Short Grass in Winter

Mowing too much also makes your lawn more vulnerable to diseases, weather stress, and weeds. Cutting the grass too short inhibits root growth, and the surface area of the leaves is reduced. This means there are fewer leaves available for photosynthesis. Grass relies on roots to grow, which weakens the roots, making them less able to endure rain and drought.

Shallow roots make it difficult for the grass to maintaining the correct moisture level and require more water. If the grass is too short, the turf is exposed to direct heat. This causes it to dry quickly, especially in summer. Therefore, short grass needs to be protected from drought by frequent watering. Moreover, grass cut too short struggles to fight intruders and succumbs to diseases, weeds, and pests.

Problems with Long Grass in Winter

Tallgrass makes your lawn unattractive, as its blades grow with irregular heights adding to an inconsistent appearance in your lawn. Therefore, growing glass too long isn’t advisable as it makes it difficult for the grass to hold itself up, drooping towards the ground and suffocating the grass surrounding it. Long grass traps moisture in the lower areas, making the lawn more prone to fungus and other diseases.

There is also a chance that the grass may turn brown or yellow. Not cutting it for a long time may cause the grass to look more like weeds than grass. Long grass may overload your lawnmower and dull your mower’s blades when you try to mow it after a long time.

Clippings left behind after mowing longer grass are also tricky to manage. Longer grass clippings often sit on the top of the lawn and are challenging to remove. Moreover, longer clipping blocks the sunlight to the grass turf, affecting the health of the grass. When you mow regularly, the shorter clippings easily fall on the ground, where they decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

Finding the Right Balance

Mowing your lawn correctly just before the winter is important for its health. If the grass isn’t mowed regularly, your lawn can be prone to weed invasion and diseases. But there is a myth that says the shorter you mow grass, the less often you will have to cut it. This concept lays the foundation for an unhealthy lawn, as shorter grass is more vulnerable to heat damage and drought.

The key is to find the right balance between leaving it tall and cutting it too short. This balance can be achieved by finding suitable mowing heights for your grass for the different seasons. When you have found this balance, you can have a lush and healthy lawn throughout the year. And it will be less prone to issues.

The 1/3rd Rule

As a rule of thumb, do not remove more than one-third of the grass height in a single cut. Doing so would reduce the carbohydrates necessary for the healthy growth of grass. Allow the grass only to grow one-third higher than your preferred height. During stressful times for the grass, mowing more than one-third of the leaf tissue may scalp the turf.

Types of Grasses in Different Regions of the U.S

Before getting into ideal mowing heights, let’s have a look at different types of grass. Each grass type has its specific height requirements for mowing, so make sure you know which grass type you have.

Suppose you live in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, or Northeast region of the U.S. In that case, your grass falls into the category of cold-season grasses, which include Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Perennial Ryegrass.

If you live in the Southern or Southwestern areas of the U.S., your grass belongs to the category of warm-season grasses. Those include Bahia, Bermuda Grass, Centipede, Zoysia, and St. Augustine.

Grass Recommended Mowing Heights

Proper mowing height increases the density of the grass and promotes deep root growth. This helps the turf be more able to endure weeds, diseases, and other environmental stresses. Ideal mowing height varies based on grass type, weather, and growing conditions.

Mowing the lawn at the proper height is valuable for its health. Determine your grass’s ideal height, and allow it to grow one-third higher. Set the mower height by adjusting it on a flat surface and measuring the distance from the ground to the blade.

The following chart shows the recommended mowing heights for different grasses types. It will help you to determine the grass height ranges and mower settings for a specific type.

Grass Type
Recommended Mowing Height
(inches)
Mow When Grass Reaches This Height (inches)
Zoysia
1-11/2
11/2 – 2
Bermuda Grass
1-1 1/2
11/2 – 2
St. Augustine
2 1/2-3
3 3/4-4 1/2
Centipede
1 1/2-2
2-3
Kentucky Bluegrass
2-2 1/2
3-3 3/4
Tall Fescue
2-3
3-4 3/4
Fine Fescue
2-2 1/2
3-3 3/4
Buffalo Grass
1-2
1 ½-3
Colonial Bentgrass
½ -1
¾ – 1 ½
Dichondra
½ – ¾
¾ – 1 ¼
Kikuyu Grass
1-1 ½
1 ½  – 2 ¼
Perennial Ryegrass
1 ½ – 2 ½
2 ¼ – 3 ¾

Warm-season grasses such as Zoysia, Bermuda Grass, and St. Augustine grow at their peak when summer starts. Mowing heights can also be different for different types of warm-season grasses. For example, Zenith Zoysia grows better when it’s cut at the height of around 1.5 inches. Empire Zoysia, the ideal height is 0.75 to 3 inches.

Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues, should be cut at the height of around 1 to 4 inches. They grow better in spring and fall.

Regularly check your mower blades before you start the engine. A dull blade is the worst thing you can subject your lawn to. Dull blades cut the grass unevenly as it rips out the grass rather than cutting it cleanly. Even after mowing, it can make your lawn look rough. When the grass is cut with dull blades, it leaves it open for diseases to attack.

Clean cuts ensure that the leaves can regenerate a lot faster. Maintaining a proper mowing height of your grass with a blunt blade can harm your lawn. Regularly inspect your mowing blades, and if there are chips and gaps, sharpen or replace them.

When to Mow the Lawn in Winter

Cutting your lawn when needed is important for its health. But try to avoid a particular mowing schedule. Most people mow their lawn on their day off every week, but it’s unnecessary to mow the grass this often. It depends on the season and grass type how fast grass grows. During winter, the grass grows relatively slow compared to summer and spring. So, always plan to mow the grass-based on its growth and not on the days of the week.

It’s also important to mow the lawn at the right time of the day. The two optimal times for mowing your lawn in winter are mid-morning and late afternoon. At mid-morning, the dew has dried, and the heat of the day hasn’t yet reached its peak. This means that the grass has enough time to recover before the full heat of the midday sun hits. There is less stress for the grass in the late afternoon as the temperature starts to cool down.

Basic Rules for Mowing in Winter

Winter is a challenging season for grass, as the growth of the grass is very slow during this season. Therefore, the mowing height of the grass in winter is an important aspect of care. Here are some of the basic rules that must be followed to prevent the grass from getting damaged by the cold winter season.

  • Shorter Final Fall Mowing: To prevent snow mold, mow the cold-season grasses shorter for the final fall mowing.
  • Don’t Mow Dewy Grass: Grass gets covered with dew in the winter, making it wet. It’s recommended that you always mow the lawn after the grass has dried.
  • Ensure a Clean Cut: Use sharp blades while mowing the lawn.
  • Vary the Mowing Patterns: Change your lawn mowing pattern every time you mow your lawn.
  • Mow to a Suitable Height: Don’t mow the grass to keep it shorter, but rather to make it even.

Final Remarks

People often struggle to maintain their lawn, trying different things to make their lawn healthy and lush, but sometimes ending up in a worse position. Some people cut their grass too short and scalp their lawn. Others let it grow so tall that it looks unattractive and becomes full of weeds. Grass does not grow much in winter, so mowing the grass too short exposes the roots to very cold temperatures, causing damage to the health of the grass. We have shown the suitable mowing heights for different types of grass. This will help you to maintain a lush green and healthy lawn. Always keep in mind the recommended height of the grass. Cut it according to the grass type, weather, and other physical conditions.

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