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What Height Should I Mow?

Jul 17, 2019

What Height Should I Mow?

 

Mowing is the most fundamental form of lawn maintenance. It is vital to the health and thickness of a lawn to mow at the correct height and frequency.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard that the shorter you mow your grass, the less often you will have to mow it, which is a commonly held fallacy. Mowing your grass too short does not mean that you have to mow it less often. Actually, if you've cut your grass too short, you're most likely doing your grass more harm than good. Mowing grass too short will actually damage your grass. Because the grass is in distress, each individual grass plant will utilize all of its energy to grow back its blades as quickly as possible, often at the expense of its’ root system. Not only will cutting your grass too short cause the grass to grow back faster but it will also leave your grass weak and more vulnerable to damage from pests, disease and drought.

The best way to ensure that you have a healthy, drought resistant lawn is to mow your grass at the right height. The height you should mow your grass depends mainly on the variety of grass you have in your yard. Warm season grasses and cool season grasses are the two basic categories of turf grasses. Your specific mowing height will depend upon which category of grass your particular lawn falls under.

Warm-season grasses are most commonly used here in eastern N.C. as well as in other warmer regions of the U.S.  They flourish and most of their growing is done during the spring and summer when temperatures are 80° F or higher.  The most common warm season grasses in our area include Centipede, Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine. The recommended mowing height for most warm season grasses is 1 to 3 inches but the cut height will vary based on what specific variety of grass you have in your lawn.

Cool season grasses will also grow during the spring and summer but once temperatures get above 80° F, cool-season grasses will start to struggle. Cool season grasses are more commonly used in the Piedmont and Mountain regions of N.C. as well as in northern or other cooler regions of the U.S.  Some of the most common cool season grasses will include Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fine Fescue. The recommended mowing height for most cool season grasses is between 2.5 and 4 inches but, as with the warms season grasses, the cut height will vary depending on the specific variety of grass in your lawn.

If you are unsure of what type of grass you have in your lawn, you should be able to make a good guess on whether it’s warm or cool season grass based on your location. If you are unable to make that determination, a good rule of thumb is to mow between 2.5 and 3 inches.

How often you mow your grass also plays an important role in the health of your grass and helps to increase growth.  A general rule for knowing when it’s time to mow is to never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blades. So, if your correct mowing height is 3 inches, you would want to mow when it reaches 4.5 inches in height. Also, it’s always better to mow your grass too tall rather than too short. Water reaches the deeper roots of taller grass more efficiently which is better for your grass especially during dry or drought conditions.

A few other things to remember about mowing at the correct height. If your lawn has several varieties of grass it may difficult to determine the correct mowing height, so the best practice would be to always mow your grass a little taller. Because taller grass provides shade over the soil, mowing your grass taller will help the root systems hold moisture and will also help keep crabgrass at bay. And, last but not least, grass will always grow better in shady areas when it is mowed a little taller.

**Information, mowing heights, etc. will vary depending on the source accessed. This article isn’t intended to be expert advice. It contains general information only. **

** For more detailed information regarding mowing heights, grass types, healthy lawns etc. go to: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns **