Maintaining a healthy, green lawn is a source of stress for many homeowners.
With a little bit of effort, it is possible to make your demanding lawn healthy and lush.
When it comes to maintaining grass, mowing too often is the most common cause of problems.
So how often should you mow the lawn?
Mow your lawn around once per week for ideal lawn conditions. Follow the one-third rule by only cutting the grass by one-third of its height. Factors such as fertilizer, rainfall, and the type of grass all affect its growth, so keep this rule in mind when choosing how often and how low to mow.
By mowing your yard based on the one-third rule, you avoid the issues associated with over-mowing, such as poor growth, yellow patches, and excess weeds.
Keep reading to learn more about how often to mow the lawn, the optimal height for various grass types, and mowing mistakes to avoid.
When To Mow Your Lawn
There is no set schedule when it comes to mowing your lawn because many different factors affect the grass’s growth rate.
Following the one-third rule is the best way to mow your lawn no matter what type of grass you have or how quickly it grows.
If your grass is too short, your lawn will be more prone to weeds, and it will be difficult to recover from drought conditions because the roots will not hold much water.
Cutting the grass too short will make the roots very weak, and you will eventually wind up with bare patches.
Watering and fertilizing short grass will speed up its growth, which will minimize any damage done from over-cutting.
The tip of each blade of grass contains hormones preventing the blades from growing too wide.
Trimming these tips will allow the grass to become thicker near the roots, creating a fuller appearance for your yard.
Longer grass will also have longer roots, making your lawn able to withstand harsher environmental conditions such as wind and lack of rain.
If you have an overgrown lawn because you missed a mowing session, do not cut it short all at once.
To prevent the grass from going into shock or burning, only cut one-third of the length at one time.
Increase your mowing frequency to twice per week, and gradually lower your lawnmower blade until your grass is the proper height.
Reduce your mowing schedule back to normal once your grass is the desired length.
Which Type Of Grass Should You Have On Your Lawn?
The variation of grass in your yard also determines when it grows and how long it should be.
You will have to mow more frequently during the growing season, especially if there is a lot of rainy weather.
Cool-season grasses grow more during the spring and autumn seasons and are typically longer than most warm-season types of grass.
Warm-season grasses do most of their growing during the warmest months.
Their shorter height makes them ideal for warmer, drier climates because they do not require a lot of water.
However, shorter grass types usually require nitrogen fertilizer and more overall maintenance to keep them looking tidy.
The following table shows the ideal height for different types of warm- and cool-season grasses.
Table Of When To Cut Your Lawn By Height
|Name of Grass||Type of Grass||Recommended Optimal Height|
|Kentucky bluegrass||Cool-season||2.5-3.5” inches|
|Perennial ryegrass||Cool-season||1.5-2.5” inches|
|Creeping red fescue||Cool-season||3-3.5” inches|
|Turf-type tall fescue||Cool-season||2-3” inches|
|Common bermudagrass||Warm-season||1-2” inches|
|Hybrid bermudagrass||Warm-season||1-1.5” inches|
|St. Augustine||Warm-season||2-3” inches|
For warm-season grasses and turf-type tall fescue, add ½” inch to the recommended height range during the hot months.
This longer length allows the grass to take in more nutrients and grow longer roots to sustain itself when there is very little rain.
Longer grass also helps to control the growth of weeds.
Too many weeds are not only unsightly, but they will rob the soil of precious nutrients essential for grass growth.
Centipede and Zoysia grasses are the two slowest-growing types of grass, so they will need less frequent mowing than other grass species.
If you’re using centipede, check out our post for tips to get centipede grass to spread quickly.
What To Avoid When Mowing Your Lawn
Aside from mowing too often, there are several mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your lawn looking green and healthy.
Do Not Mow Wet Grass
The clippings from wet grass will clog your lawnmower and become so matted on your lawn they block the sunlight on the healthy grass underneath.
Wet grass blades will also stick together or become matted down under your mower’s wheels, creating an uneven cut.
Mowing a wet lawn increases the chance of a plant disease infestation by spreading fungus all over the plant life in your yard.
This fungus is not only potentially harmful to your grass but also to any flowering plants you have near the edge of your lawn.
Water also makes grass very slippery, which significantly increases your risk of injury while mowing, especially if your yard has a steep slope to it.
Do Not Mow Too Quickly
Mowing your lawn when you are in a hurry will likely wind up, leaving it looking worse than before.
You may end up with uneven grass or large clumps of clippings all over your lawn.
Only mow when you are able to dedicate the time to do it properly.
If you are too busy to mow your lawn regularly, consider hiring a professional landscaping service to do it for you.
Do Not Mow in the Same Pattern Every Time
Blades of grass will usually grow toward the last direction in which you mowed them.
To keep the grass blades growing straighter, alternate your mowing pattern every time you mow.
Alternating your mowing pattern also prevents the wheels of your lawnmower from creating deep ruts in your grass.
Do Not Mow with Dull Lawnmower Blades
Dull lawnmower blades will tear a blade of grass instead of making a defined cut.
These tears will make the grass more susceptible to pests and diseases.
It is crucial to have your mower blades sharpened every other month for a cleaner cut.
Do Not Remove the Grass Clippings
It used to be very common to bag up your grass clippings and throw them away.
Recent studies have proven this to be the wrong thing to do, however.
The grass clippings will add nutrients to the soil and help retain moisture as they decompose.
Grass clippings may produce up to 30% of your lawn’s nitrogen needs.
Over time, these grass clippings form a mulch to produce a healthy lawn.
However, if you’re in a situation where you have to pick up clippings we have some tips on this.
Check out our post on the easiest way to pick up grass clippings.
Do Not Mow in Wide Rows
If you mow in very wide rows, it becomes easy to end up with strips of uncut grass.
It is best to overlap every strip you mow by three inches to avoid missing any grass.
Tips For Mowing Your Lawn
Now you know what not to do when mowing your lawn.
This section will discuss a few basic lawn mowing tips to make the job easier and achieve better results.
Maintain Your Lawn Mower
Follow the maintenance schedule provided by your lawnmower’s manufacturer, and keep your blades sharpened.
Fill the gas tank and ensure the blades are adjusted before starting your lawnmower.
Use the recommended gas mixture, and do not leave gas in the tank for extended periods, such as during the winter months.
The gas will start to degrade in as little as 30 days.
Over time, the gas will go stale, and it may gum up the carburetor.
The gas will eventually fail to combust, making it impossible to start the lawnmower and causing rust to form.
If you plan to store your lawnmower for more than 30 days, it is best to add a fuel stabilizer and run the mower for several minutes.
Once the fuel stabilizer has been distributed throughout the motor, siphon the gas from the lawnmower tank and store it properly.
Keep your lawnmower under a cover or in a shed to shield it from the elements.
Make The First And Last Cuts Of The Season Shorter
Cut the grass slightly shorter than the recommended height on the first few cuts in the spring and the last few in the fall.
These shorter cuts allow new growth to reach the sun more quickly in the spring, resulting in an overall healthier lawn for the growing season.
Cutting the grass shorter in the fall prevents mold from growing underneath frost formations.
Take care not to cut the grass too short, however.
The grass should have a minimum height of 2″ inches to maintain proper photosynthesis for staying alive.
Mow Your Lawn Between 8 AM And 10 aM
Cutting your grass during the mid-morning hours is the ideal time of the day for the task.
By mid-morning, the dew has had time to dry from the grass blades, and you will still be able to avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
Mowing your lawn between 8 AM – 10 AM is more ideal than mowing in the evening hours because the grass uses sunlight to heal and absorb nutrients.
Without this healing period, the grass may not grow as full as it should.
We have a great post on how early to mow your lawn that goes into greater detail on this.
Keep Safety in Mind
Remember to stay safe by wearing appropriate clothing, closed-toed shoes, ear protection, and safety goggles whenever you mow the lawn.
Keep pets and small children away from the lawnmower, and do not allow children younger than 12 to operate any lawn equipment.
Ensure the grass is dry, and remove any small rocks, toys, or other debris to avoid unexpected projectiles.
Be careful when mowing near trees and other landscaped areas, such as flowerbeds.
Cuts in a tree will make it more prone to infections.
A minor infection may be fatal to a young tree or easily spread to nearby trees.