When most people go to mow their lawn, they typically want nothing more than to make the grass shorter. They don’t think about the exact length they want it cut, just that it won’t be as long as it was before they started. What homeowners like this may not realize, is that there’s a lot to gain from proper mowing. Such benefits include:

a man on a riding lawnmower
  • Increased grass density
  • Less weeds
  • Greener appearance
  • Feels softer

The length at which you should mow your lawn will depend on the type of grass you have. Generally speaking, however, you should never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade length at any one time. A well-fertilized lawn can survive occasional close cuts, but repeated close mowing can lead to a brown lawn as well as:

  • Injure the crown (where new growth generates and nutrients are stored).
  • Reduce the surface area of the blade, making the blade surface insufficient to produce food.
  • Increased vulnerability to pests and disease.
  • Increased sunlight that reaches weed seeds, permitting germination.
  • Risk of soil compaction.

Mowing Guidelines

By following these mowing guidelines, you’re sure to have a healthier and better-looking lawn.

  • Mow when the grass is dry. This will ensure that the blades will be upright and less likely to clump when cut.
  • Mow in the later parts of the day to avoid subjecting your lawn to heat stress.
  • Keep your mower’s blades sharp.
  • Change your mowing pattern each time you mow. Grass will develop a grain if you mow it the same way every time. Alternating the pattern causes more upright growth and help avoid ruts from developing.
  • Blow the clippings towards the area you already cut (unless you’re bagging them).
  • Leave clippings on the lawn unless they form clumps or rows. This helps to return nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn.
  • Grass that is under trees should be cut higher than the rest of your lawn. This is because the grass in these areas are competing with the tree’s roots for water and nutrients.

Turf Grass Mowing Height Recommendations

Follow these mowing heights for your turf type.

Mowing Height for Cool-Season Grasses

  • Bentgrass – 1/2 to 1 inch
  • Bluegrass – 2 to 2 1/2 inches
  • Perennial Ryegrass – 2 to 3 inches
  • Fescue – 2 to 3 inches

Mowing Height for Warm-Season Grasses

  • Bahia – 2 to 2 1/2 inches
  • Bermuda – 1 1/2 to 2 inches
  • Centipede – 1 1/2 to 2 inches
  • St. Augustine – 2 to 3 inches
  • Zoysia – 1 to 2 inches