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How High Should I Cut the Grass?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

How high should it be cut? Well, first it depends on what type of grass you have (see: Getting to Know Your Lawn) in order to help determine the suggested mowing height). From the table, you should be able to determine what type of grass you have and the recommended mowing height for each. For example, if you identified your lawn as Common Bermuda grass, then your suggested mowing height should range from 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches. As a rule of thumb, it is best tostay at the high end of these suggested heights, especially during seasonal droughts and heat waves.

Mower Blade Height
Mower Blade Height

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In general, the longer you let your lawn grow, the deeper the root system will develop, thereby increasing its chance of withstanding periods of drought and severe heat. Higher grass also allows for increased ground cover to help protect soil from drying out and lets the grass absorb more sunlight. Conversely,if you cut too low, your lawn may develop a shallow root system, making it susceptible to drying out and requiring more maintenance to stay healthy. Additionally, too low a cut may also provide just enough sunlight for weeds to germinate and gain a foothold. The only negative side effect to growing taller lawns is that your lawn may develop a large amount of Thatch over time and may need to be de-thatched or aerated seasonally (see: Aerating). Basically, Thatch is collection of grass clippings, dead stems, and debris that collects on the ground level of the grass.

Mower Blade Height in Grass
Mower Blade Height in Grass

When accumulated in excess, thatch can interfere with proper lawn watering and fertilizing. For a list of companies that can aerate or de-thatch your lawn for you, please visit our Green Pages! Many of these companies offer FREE Lawn Analysiss so ask them to print out or send you one of these completed forms so you can get the best deal!

Important Tip:

Do not cut more than 1/3 of the grass off during one single mowing. If you've just returned from a long vacation and the lawn is higher then usual, reset your mowing height so you do not cut more then 1/3 of the grass blades. After this "high" mowing, come back a few days later and cut again to get it down to its normal cutting height.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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