Mowing height, what is the best height for your grass type?


It may not sound like much to adjust your lawn’s height, but it has a very big impact on your lawn’s health. If you don’t mow your grass for a long time, you will notice that your grass will grow at different heights, and your lawn will look rough. Your lawn may become an ideal habitat for insects and critters. On the other hand, if you cut your grass too short, your lawn becomes more susceptible to weed invasion, heat damage, and drought.

Mowing height, what is the best height for your grass type:

For a lush and healthy turf, mowing your lawn to a particular height is important. Cool-season grasses should be cut to a height ranging between 0.75 inches to 4 inches. Warm-season grasses should be cut to a height ranging from 0.5 inches to 3 inches. Different types of grass have different mowing heights, which help them grow healthier. Use the 1/3 rule. The seasonal mowing height variations must be kept in mind to keep your lawn healthier and aesthetically pleasing throughout the year.

This article will discuss different mowing heights that are recommended for different types of grasses. To find out the suitable mowing height for the type of grass you are growing on your lawn, you will find many answers and tips in this blog post. Cutting your lawn to the correct height and taking good care will make it more pleasing and less susceptible to a weed invasion.  

● Problems with overly-short grass

Mowing too much at once makes your lawn more vulnerable to weather stress, weeds, and diseases. Cutting the grass too short also inhibits root growth. When grass is mowed too short, the leaves’ surface area is reduced, which is where the grass makes food. The grass starts to rely on roots to grow, which weaken the roots, and they are less able to endure rain and drought. Shallow roots require more water and make it difficult for the grass to maintaining moisture.

Grass mowed too low has less leaf available for photosynthesis which, as a result, damage the grass. Short grass exposes the turf to direct heat which causes it to dry quickly, especially in summers. Therefore, extra care is needed for short grass by watering it frequently to protect it from drought. Moreover, grass cut too short struggles to fight the intruders and succumb to the diseases, weeds, and pests.

● Problems with long grass

Tallgrass is unattractive in the lawn as its blades grow with arbitrary and irregular heights, adding to your lawn’s inconsistent appearance. Growing grass too long is also not advisable as it makes it difficult for the grass to hold itself up, and it drops on the surrounding grass, suffocating it. Long grass also traps moisture in the lower areas, making the lawn prone to fungus and other diseases. The grass may grow unevenly, and your lawn may look rough. Moreover, there is also a high chance that the grass may turn yellow or brown.

Not mowing for a long time may cause the grass to go to seed, where its blades look more like weeds than grass. Long grass may overwhelm your mower and dull your mower’s blades when you try to mow it after a long time.

Clippings left behind after mowing the longer grass are also longer and difficult to manage. Longer grass clippings often sit on the top of the lawn and are difficult to remove. Moreover, longer clipping blocks the sunlight to the turfgrass, which affects the health of the grass. During regular mowing, the short clippings easily fall on the ground, where they decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

● Finding the right balance for your grass

Mowing your lawn properly is important for its health. If not mowed regularly, your lawn can be prone to weed invasion and diseases. But there is a myth among the public that says the shorter you mow grass, the less often you will have to cut it. This concept misguides and lays a foundation for an unhealthy lawn.

Shorter grass is more vulnerable to heat damage and drought. The key is to find out the right balance between cutting the grass too short or leaving it tall. This balance can be achieved by determining the suitable mowing heights for your grass during different seasons. Once this balance is found, you can have a lush and healthier lawn throughout the year and it will be less prone to diseases and problems.

● The 1/3rd rule

 As a rule of thumb, never remove more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing session, as this reduces the carbohydrates necessary for the healthy growth of the grass. In other words, allow the grass to grow one-third higher before mowing it. Especially during stressful times, mowing more than one-third of the leaf tissue may cause scalping injury to 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 specific height requirements for mowing, so make sure you are aware of those when you mow.

Suppose you live in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, or Northeast region of the U.S. Your grass falls into the category of Cold season grasses which include Tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Perennial ryegrass.

However, suppose you live in Southern or Southwestern areas of the U.S. Your grass belongs to Warm-season grasses, which include Bahia, Bermuda grass, Centipede, Zoysia, and St. Augustine.

● Mowing in summers

During summers, maintaining a proper mowing height becomes even more important. Higher mowing heights are recommended during warm weather so that the soil of your lawn is shaded and the roots are protected from the harsh heat. Taller grass also helps to reduce water loss and prevent weed invasion.

● Mowing in fall

Falls and winters can make taller grass matted and diseased. So, during these seasons, mid-length grass is preferable. As the grass doesn’t grow much in these seasons, cutting too short can expose the roots to damagingly cold temperatures. So, focus on maintaining the right balance and avoid overcutting it, or it can cause severe damage to your lawn.

● Mowing in spring

During spring, longer days and plenty of rain make the grass grow quicker than in summer. During this peak growth period, grass requires more frequent mowing. A shorter cut is preferred in spring to get rid of any brown winter grass blades and prepare your lawn for a fresh growing season.

● Recommended mowing heights

Proper mowing height promotes deep root growth. It increases the grass’s density, which helps the turf be more competitive against weeds and diseases and makes it able to endure environmental stresses. The ideal height for mowing grass varies based on grass type, weather, and growing conditions. Mowing the lawn at a proper height is vital for its health.

It is important to determine the ideal height of your grass and allow it to grow one-third higher. You can set the mower height by adjusting it on a flat surface and measuring the ground’s distance to the blade.

The following chart shows suitable mowing heights for various lawn grasses. It will help you to determine the grass height ranges and mower settings for a specific grass 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, St. Augustine grow at their peak when summer arrives. Mowing heights can also be different for different types of the same grass. For example, Zenith zoysia grows better when it is cut to 1.5 inches, while the ideal height for Empire zoysia is 0.75 to 3 inches.

Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues grow better in spring and fall. Cool-season grasses must be mowed from 1 to 4 inches.

It is also important to check your mower blades before mowing your lawn. A dull blade is often about the worst thing you can do to a lawn. Dull blades can contribute to your lawn’s problems, and these blades also cut the grass unevenly, which makes it look rough, even after mowing.

When the grass is cut with dull blades, the leaves open up for the attack of diseases. Clean cut helps the leaves to regenerate a lot faster. If you are maintaining the proper mowing height of your grass but not using a sharp blade for cutting it, you may end up ruining your lawn. So, inspect your mowing blades, and if there are chips and gaps in between them, it’s probably time to buy a new one.

● Environmental benefits associated with lawn heights

One may not think of this, but environmental health has a direct relationship with lawn height. If you let your lawn grow taller, it is healthy for the grass and its roots and supports the ecosystem in your surroundings. Longer grass has the following benefits:

  • Cooler on a hot day: Grassy areas are 5-7 degrees Celcius cooler than other areas as the grass absorbs heat from the sun for photosynthesis.
  • Cools the surrounding area: The Energy system faces less stress to cool the surroundings due to the grass’s cooling effect.
  • Filter toxins: Thick and healthy grass filters toxins from the surface runoff after heavy rainfall.

● When to mow your lawn

Mowing your lawn regularly is important for its health, but avoid a particular mowing schedule for your lawn. Most of the people often mow the lawn on their day off every week. It is not necessary to mow your lawn every week. How fast grass grows depends on the season and grass types. So, always plan the mowing of the grass based on its growth and not on the days of the week.

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

Never mow your lawn during the hottest part of the day. During this time, the grass is already under great stress and using all its energy to stay hydrated. Mowing the lawn adds to the stress and results in brown patches due to heat damage.

● Basic rules for mowing height

  • In springs, cut the warm-season grasses to a lower cutting range to remove dead winter blades.
  • During drought summer conditions, reduce the stress on your lawn by raising your blade to the upper cutting range.
  • To prevent snow mold, mow the cool-season grasses shorter for the final fall mowing.
  • Change your lawn mowing pattern every time you mow your lawn.
  • Use a sharp blade while mowing the lawn.
  • Always mow the lawn when the grass is dry.
  • Don’t mow the grass to keep it shorter but to make it even.

Final Word

People often struggle while maintaining their lawn, and they try different things to make their lawn healthy and lush, but they end up being in the worst position. Some people cut the grass too short, and scalp their lawn, and others let it grow so tall that it becomes full of weeds and looks ugly. The suitable mowing heights for different types of grass explained in this article will help you maintain a healthy and lush green lawn. All you need to do is keep in view the height of the grass in your lawn and mow it to a suitable height according to the grass type, weather, and other physical conditions.

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