Mowing the lawn is a simple yet effective way to keep your outdoors looking tidy, and it is often seen as a routine yard task. However, not knowing the proper mowing height for your lawn can be detrimental to its overall look and health. Cutting your grass too short weakens its growth pattern and makes your yard more susceptible to weeds. Not mowing your grass enough makes your yard an appealing home for critters like mice and grass-eating slugs. So how do you find a happy medium?
Identifying your plant hardiness zone is the first step in maintaining the ideal mowing height for the health of your lawn, as you can better understand your growing environment and what thrives best in your location. After becoming familiar with your zone, use these tips to determine the right grass height for your landscape.
If you live in the northern region of the country, chances are your yard is being occupied by a cool-season grass. Cool-season grasses are built to survive the fluctuating temperatures of the northern states and usually do a majority of their growing in the spring and fall. A few species of these grasses include:
- Kentucky Bluegrass: This durable grass tends to recover quickly from heavy foot traffic but doesn't fare well in times of high temperatures. Your Kentucky Bluegrass should be maintained at a healthy 2.5" during its peak growing seasons.
- Fescue: Available in different varieties, fescue is the turf of choice for sports fields because of their slow growth patterns and durability. In times of heavy foot traffic, you can allow fescue grasses to grow up to 3 inches for easy recovery.
- Ryegrass: Homeowners tend to opt for ryegrass for its fast growth patterns and bright green color. Because of its fast growth and shallow root systems, ryegrass should be mowed often but shouldn't exceed 2 inches. The short length will encourage growth throughout the season.
Warm-season turfs are made to withstand the scorching summers of the southern region. Because they are tropical in nature, warm-season grasses do most of their growing in the summer and go into a brown, dormant state as the temperature drops. Warm-season grasses can consist of the following:
- Bermuda: True to its tropical nature, Bermuda thrives in places of bright sunlight. Often used to cover golf courses, Bermuda grass grows best if maintained at a height of 2".
- St. Augustine: Known for its wide grass blades, this type of grass can be found growing in many coastal regions of the country. Because of its fast growth pattern, St. Augustine grass should be mowed after exceeding 3" in height.
- Zoysia: Lush and slow-growing, Zoysia is known for being the most temperamental of the warm-season grasses. Zoysia requires steady temperatures to maintain its bright color but can take over your yard if not properly maintained. Because of its slow growth pattern, Zoysia turf doesn't need to be mowed as often but should be kept 2" in length to prevent the spread of more seeds.
No matter what type of grass you are growing, it is good practice to mow your lawn every five to seven days, and in different patterns each time to prevent your soil from becoming compacted. It is okay to allow your grass to grow a little taller in the summertime to increase its drought resistance. And always consult your mower's user manual before adjusting your blade height.