Grass Mowing Height

August 24, 2013
  • Mowing Height

How High Should I Cut My Grass?

The most common mistake we see homeowners (and some commercial lawn companies) make in maintaining a lawn, is coincidentally also one of the easiest things to remedy. Mowing height!

In the past, The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has recommended an optimal grass mowing height of 2.5 to 3 inches. More recently, they have revised their recommendation to 3 or more inches tall. Their original recommendation was too short; an unhealthy length. The main reason that 2.5 to 3 inches was recommended was simply because that was the maximum height most lawn mowers could reach, not because it was better for the grass.

Mowing Height Benefits

So why does the grass mowing height matter so much?

First, if grass is allowed to get too tall, it gets difficult to mow, leaving behind piles of clippings that can smother the lawn beneath it. Tall grass can also harbor insects or even small rodents. Mowing grass too short can lead it to be more sparse and prone to erosion. It also makes it much easier for your lawn to dry out during times of drought. Grass that is too short also has a weaker root system because the height of a plant is proportionate to its root system. Taller grass overall tolerates stress better than short grass as well.

Omaha Organics typically leave lawns about 4 or 5 inches tall depending on the lawn. In addition to preventing soil from drying out as quickly, a 4 to 5 inch grass height also has the added benefit of keeping soil more shaded. This is important because it makes it harder for weed seeds, especially crabgrass, to germinate and start to grow in your lawn. This means less use of herbicides on your lawn.

It is especially important to have a higher grass mowing height in the summer and during droughts. It is not recommended to lower your mower prior to winter or with your last mowing. Grass in shade should also be left longer, because it has to compete more for nutrients than sunny lawn areas.

A good rule of thumb no matter the season, however, is to never cut your grass more than one third of its height. In other words, let your lawn get one third higher than the grass mowing height you prefer before you mow.

Mowing Tips

A few helpful tips:

  • Raise your mower all the way and leave it there permanently.
  • Always mow your lawn when the grass is dry.
  • Be sure to keep your mower blades sharp. Dull blades make ragged cuts that aren’t good for your lawn.
  • Be safe! Check for rocks and sticks before mowing.
  • Leave lawn clippings unless they are very long and forming clumps. Clippings are good for your lawn.
  • Change your mowing pattern each time. Your grass will slowly lean in the direction you mow, so alternating avoids ruts in the lawn.

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