Nothing beats an attractive, well-kept lawn in the garden, especially during spring and summer when there is more opportunity to sit outdoors and enjoy some nice weather. Many people aren’t entirely sure of when to best mow their lawn, usually leaving it until the weather permits it or after it has gotten a little out of control.
Mowing the lawn seems like a simple enough task, and it is to a certain extent, providing your timing is right! This is because not everyone is aware of the best time to mow the lawn, especially what height the grass should be allowed to grow to before cutting it back.
You will want to get this timing down, otherwise the lawn could end up looking unhealthy and a real eyesore, which nobody really wants for their garden! Should you time it right and mow the lawn at the ideal height, then you will end up with a beautiful lawn that you can be proud of.
The Importance of Mowing at the Right Height
One of the more common misconceptions surrounding a garden lawn is to consider it as one single entity. While this certainly looks to be the case, a lawn is in fact a massive collection of smaller grass plants rather than one single plant, so it should be cared for accordingly.
For instance, grass acts much the same as other plants in that if you are to pinch them, or in the case of a lawn mow it, you encourage more growth, so it is always necessary to help promote a healthier looking lawn.
Over prune your lawn however, and you can expect a similar reaction to any other plant, meaning if you are to mow the lawn too short of a height, then the plant struggles to produce a healthy growth due to the lack of foliage.
This results in a very unhealthy lawn that is thin and unsightly, as well as having a poor root system, so it is important to mow your lawn at the optimal height to ensure it is healthy, attractive, able to withstand droughts, and prevent weed infestation.
What Height You Should Mow Your Lawn
Mowing your lawn at the optimal height will ensure the best results, but there are many things that will determine what the best height is.
For example, most lawn mowing is done from early spring and throughout the summer, winding down during autumn before leaving it for most of the winter. This is because the warmer months are peak growing season, so you will need to mow more frequently and therefore need to adjust the cutting height.
So, during peak growing season you will want to be mowing around twice a week depending on the growth rate, while this is reduced to around once a week as the weather cools to the point where you no longer need to mow.
A good rule of thumb is to never mow more than one third of the foliage. Once you establish the healthiest height for your lawn, simply allow it to grow an inch in height and you can easily maintain your lawn for most of the year.
Of course, other variables will impact this, so while it is good to know the different approaches you should take during different points of the year, knowing the type of grass will be very important too.
Ornamental lawns shouldn’t be allowed to grow too high before mowing, usually around 1 to 2.5cms in height before mowing in summer, leaving it to around 4cm in spring and autumn.
Lawns that are low use, possibly with more rye grass, can be left to grow a little longer before mowing, usually to around 2 to 4cms in summer and 5 to 6cm during spring/autumn.
Lawns that are prominently rye grass should be left to a height of around 5cm during autumn and spring, which can be reduced to around 2.5cm during summer.
Other factors to consider is things such as slopes and shaded sections. As these can impact the growth rate, you may want to allow the lawn to grow around 50 percent higher than the heights stated above.
For instance, if you have an ornamental lawn that is heavily shaded, you will want to cut it between 1.5-3cm to ensure it has had enough time to produce a healthy growth.
Things to Remember
Many people will take the wrong approach when mowing their lawn, even if they think they are doing it at the best possible height.
For example, it may seem like a great idea to closely crop the lawn to a very low height, as this neat and tidy appearance is quite attractive. However, it will only deter healthy growth, resulting in weak grass with shallow roots that is more likely to harbour weeds and moss.
Similarly, never let it grow to excessive heights as this can also weaken growth and result in poor surface conditions. The first cut of the season should be at the start of spring, and your mower should be set to the highest cutting height for this. Reduce the height as the season proceeds, eventually finding the ideal height for your lawn.
The lawn should be free of debris and any leaves removed either manually or with a leaf blower or vacuum before mowing.
As anyone that has done it will testify, never mow wet grass no matter the height. It can have a negative impact on the turf and soil, so be sure to avoid it!
The shorter the lawn, the more water and fertilizer needs to be added, so be sure to never mow too short unless you want a high-maintenance lawn.
Again, never remove more than one-third of the leaf when mowing the lawn.
If ever unsure, let the lawn grow and mow at a higher height.
Always mow at a higher height in times of drought.