Mowing height is essential for maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn, as it directly impacts your grass’s overall health and appearance. Cutting too low can stress the grass, promoting diseases and pests, while mowing too high can lead to thin, weak turf.
This comprehensive guide covers the importance of lawn mower height settings, various types of grasses, their unique growth patterns, and their optimal mowing height. We’ll also share useful tips and tricks for homeowners and landscaping professionals, as well as the impact of mowers on lawn maintenance and achieving the proper mowing height.
Why is Mowing Height Important?
Choosing the correct mowing height helps balance the grass blades and the root system. By ensuring the right mowing height, you’ll be promoting:
- Photosynthesis efficiency
- A robust root system
- Disease resistance
- Drought tolerance
- A thicker turf that can outcompete weeds
Types of Grasses, Growth Patterns, and Optimal Mowing Height
These grasses thrive in colder climates and typically include fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass.
- Summer: Optimal cutting height for cool-season grasses is 2”-3”. Raise your mower deck to about 3” to give the turf a break during the hottest months.
- Spring/Fall: The optimal cutting height is 2”-2.5” when the turf is most vigorous.
Typically found in warmer regions, these can include Bermuda, zoysia, and St. Augustine grasses.
- Summer: Warm-season grasses are more tolerant of heat; therefore, there’s less need to raise the deck height to 3”.
- Spring/Fall: Warm-season grasses respond well to a shorter height of cut, so adjust your mower height to 1”-2” in length.
How to Adjust the Height Settings on Your Mower?
Before starting lawn mower height settings, please consult your [brand name] manual for model-specific instructions. However, here are some general steps to adjust the height settings on a rotary mower:
Pick Settings Based on Your Grass
Different grass types have varying height preferences. To maintain your lawn’s health and appearance, it’s essential to research the ideal cutting height for your grass type.
Set Lawn Mower Height on a Rotary Mower
Some mowers have adjustable axles that allow you to change the height settings. To change the mower’s height, locate the adjustable holes on the axel and secure the wheels with pins or bolts at the desired height.
Individual Wheel Levers
Mowers with individual wheel levers enable you to adjust each wheel’s height separately. Raise or lower each lever to achieve the appropriate height setting.
Single Lever System
The lawn mower height adjustment lever is located at the rear of the mower and allows you to adjust all four wheels simultaneously. Moving the lever up or down will raise or lower the deck height.
Note: Riding mowers often require a more complex adjustment process. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions or consult a professional.
Tips and Tricks for Achieving the Perfect Mowing Height
Follow these guidelines for a lush, healthy lawn:
- Never cut more than 1/3 of grass blades in a single mowing.
- Never cut off more than 1 inch at a time.
- You might need to mow twice a week during the peak growing season.
- Keep your mower blades sharp for cleaner cuts, which are less prone to diseases.
- Alternate mowing patterns to avoid soil compaction and ensure an even turf appearance.
- Adjust your mowing height based on weather and seasonality.
- Use a mulching lawn mower to recycle grass clippings, providing nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
How Do You Measure Lawnmower Height?
As a general rule, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blades in any mowing, and limit the amount you take off to no more than an inch at a time. Doing so may require cutting twice weekly during peak growth season, but it will make for a healthier, better-looking lawn.
What Height Should New Grass Be Cut?
For the initial mowing, you should remove just enough – around 1/2- to 3/4-inch – to give your lawn an even appearance. The next time you cut, do so at the maximum height recommended for your grass type but don’t exceed that 1/3 blade limit.
What Height Should You Tall To Let New Grass Grow Before Cutting?
If you’ve newly sodded your lawn, wait at least 10 days and until the grass is thriving before cutting it. If you’ve used seeds/plugs/sprigs, they should reach a height of 3 or 4 inches before mowing.
Is it Better to Cut Grass Short or Long?
It’s always better to cut grass longer. Doing so will shade the soil, helping it retain moisture and promoting cooler, healthier grass. You’ll also be giving your grass a greater surface area for photosynthesis which helps keep it healthy.
Plus, you can reduce mowing time by up to 20 percent – approximately 8 hours per year – saving gas and wear on your equipment. Additionally, cutting at the upper range of recommended heights can help prevent weeds from germinating.
What Happens When You Mow Grass Too Short?
Cutting grass too short stresses the roots and forces them to tap into their food reserves, leading to a thinned-out turf. The shorter you cut your grass, the shallower the root system will be, reducing its ability to take up moisture or nutrients from the soil. Keeping grass at the upper end of its recommended mowing height will help it grow deeper roots while also preventing weeds from taking hold.
Lawn mower height settings are essential for maintaining a healthy and vibrant lawn. Different grasses require different mowing heights, and it’s vital to ensure you’re cutting your grass to the optimal size.
When adjusting your mower height, remember not to cut more than 1/3 of the blades in any mowing session and limit the amount taken off per cut to no more than an inch.
Douglas Mackalie is a Founder of Mackalies Garden. He is one of the most exciting people you’ll ever meet. He has 25 years of experience in horticulture and gardening, most of which he’s spent outdoors getting his hands dirty.