If you are keen to cut the grass but unsure which mower height is best for a lawn in spring, then our experts can help you avoid making a mistake that could damage your lawn.
Why is getting your mower height right important in the first place, you might wonder? Well, if you cut fresh grass too short, too early, in the growing season it can stress the grass before it has a real chance to re-energize after its dormant period. This can set it back for the rest of the season. Mow it too late and you won’t be doing your mower any favors dealing with the long grass.
We spoke to leading lawn care professionals to discover more. Here they share their tips about getting the right mower height for when you start mowing the lawn in spring.
Which mower height is best for spring lawns?
Hands up, who looks forward to cutting the lawn after winter but is secretly nervous of doing so? Us too! There seems to be a degree of lawn care jeopardy when it comes to setting the right lawn mower height for this first mow of the season, but it really isn’t that complicated, as leading experts explain.
‘Ultimately, the best mowing height for your spring lawn will depend on your individual situation, including the type of grass you have, the condition of the soil, and the climate in your area. For that reason, it’s a good idea to consult with a local lawn care professional or do some research on the specific type of grass you have to determine the best mowing height for your lawn,’ advises Stacie Krljanovic, a head Groundkeeper in Houston, TX, and advisor to Patio Productions.
‘In general, however, it's best to set your lawn mower at a higher height during the spring season,' adds Stacie. 'A good rule of thumb is to set your mower blade so that it cuts the grass to a height of about 3 to 4 inches. This allows the grass to grow a bit taller and develop a stronger root system, which can help it to better withstand the heat and drought stress of summer.’
Susan Brandt, co-founder of Blooming Secrets, agrees that the ideal cutting height should be guided by your location and the type of grass that dominates your lawn. ‘Depending on where you live, your type of grass will differ. Cool season grasses can be mowed to a height of 3 or more inches and warm season grasses as low as half an inch up to 1.5 inches.’
Benefits of a longer cut in spring
Besides looking lush and verdant, leaving grass at a longer length for the first few weeks of the growing season can be hugely helpful for the health of your lawn.
The experts at Amateur Gardening are quick to point out that mowing too short in spring can actually weaken the grass, which allows lawn moss and weeds to become established and spoil the lawn.
‘A higher mowing height in the spring can certainly help reduce annual weed emergence and maximize the root growth potential of your lawn,' confirms Eric DeBoer, agronomist for Simple Lawn Solutions. 'More leaf mass supports more root mass.'
Simply put, the larger the area of the leaf, the more the plant can photosynthesize and create energy to direct into strengthening its roots. Most grasses will generally develop roots that are around three times as deep as the height of its leaves. Deep roots in turn will boost the plant's reserves to withstand the heat and any potential drought conditions.
How do I know the best height to set my mower blades at?
It is best to ‘follow any suggested mowing height guidelines given on the label of your grass seed bag,’ says Robert Martinez from Yardenz, but there is some discretion to be had depending on the condition of your grass.
‘If your lawn is very thick and lush, you may need to mow it a bit lower in order to prevent the grass from getting too tall and falling over,’ says Stacie Krljanovic, a head groundkeeper in Houston, TX. ‘On the other hand, if your lawn is thin or patchy, you may want to leave the grass a bit taller to encourage thicker growth and better coverage.’
When should I lower the height of my mower blades?
Many experts agree that it’s not always necessary to lower mower blades during the growing season, and in fact, your lawn can be healthier if kept long. Taller grass copes much better in hot, dry conditions than close cropped turf which can scorch and die back.
Once you've decided the time is right to cut your lawn in spring, it seems it pays to increase the mower height and not trim the grass too short too early in the season. Doing this, as well as fertilizing your lawn in spring, should help ensure you have a green and thick lawn for the rest of the spring and summer.
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Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English
Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her
everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.
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