When should you stop mowing your lawn in the fall? Experts explain why getting it right is so important

Find out when you should stop mowing your lawn in the fall and why getting the timing and length right is so important

A lawn mower on short grass with autumn trees in the background
(Image credit: Alamy)

Now that fall has arrived many gardeners will be looking to put their mowers away for the year and take a break from constant lawn care – especially those who live in cooler climates, with many asking 'when should you stop mowing your lawn in the fall?' 

Unfortunately for those looking for a well-earned rest from garden care, fall lawn care is one of the most important end of year tasks that should not be avoided if you want lush grass in the new year - and this includes mowing your lawn in fall. 

Here, experts explain when you should stop mowing your lawn in the fall so you can get the timing right no matter where you live.

When should I stop mowing my lawn in the fall?

A lawn mower on grass covered in fallen brown leaves

(Image credit: Alamy)

Along with knowing when to stop watering a lawn in fall, knowing when to stop mowing your lawn in the fall can have a direct effect on your grass growth the following year. 'When you stop cutting your grass for the year will depend on your local climate and the type of grass you have,' explains Rachel Crow, garden editor for Homes & Gardens. 'Luckily, there are a few ways you can tell it is the best time to stop mowing.' 

Soil Temperature: 'Knowing whether you have cool-season grass or warm-season grass will affect when you should stop mowing,' Rachel says. 'cool-season grass will not go dormant until the soil temperature reaches approximately 45F. Warm season grasses, on the other hand, will reach dormancy in soil temperatures closer to 55F. You should avoid mowing dormant grass and aim to mow in the days or weeks leading up to the dormant phase.'

Local Frosts: 'If you live in colder parts of the world and are a keen gardener, you should keep a note of when to expect the first frosts at the end of each year,' Rachel continues. 'Most fall lawn care such as mowing, overseeding a lawn in fall and aerating a lawn should be undertaken before local frosts set in and your soil freezes.' 

As a general rule of thumb, you should look to wind down your mowing between October and November. As the weather becomes cooler and often wetter, mow your lawn to approximately two to two-and-a-half inches and maintain this height until growth stops. Investing in one of the best lawn mowers will help you to get the most accurate cut. 

Why you should continue to mow your lawn in fall

Grass with orange fallen leaves scattered across it

(Image credit: Alamy)

'There are several benefits to trimming your lawn short at the end of fall and going into winter,' Rachel continues. 'From helping with dethatching a lawn to protecting your grass over winter, keeping your grass short will help make a lawn green and thick the following year.' 

It is important to get the final cut of the year right, however, if you wish to avoid causing irreversible damage to your grass. Cutting your lawn too short or, conversely, leaving your grass too long can leave your otherwise perfectly manicured lawn susceptible to a wide range of winter diseases.

If you leave your lawn too long or untamed over the winter months, there is a high chance of the blades trapping moisture next to the soil leading to mold growth and disease. Mowing your grass too short in fall, however, can lead to a weaker plant. Grass that is too short during dormancy will not be able to provide enough energy to survive frosts or produce growth as easily the following spring as it struggles to photosynthesize. The result may be patchy, uneven grass growth with spaces left for moss or weeds that may prove difficult to get rid of. 

If your lawn falls victim to patches it is worth learning what is overseeding and how to fertilize a lawn to help restore your lawn in the fall months.

Is it okay to cut grass in December?

It may be okay to mow your lawn in December if you live in a climate warm enough for it to continue growing. If you live in a cold climate and your grass is dormant, avoid cutting your grass until the weather begins to warm up again to avoid causing damage. 

Is it better to leave you lawn long or short for winter?

You should aim to cut your lawn on the shorter side in the winter as leaving your grass too long could leave your grass susceptible to disease. However, leaving your grass too short in cold weather could cause stress leading to damage to roots or leaves. Trim your grass to approximately two to two-and-a-half inches to avoid irreversible damage.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.