Mowing: stop cutting your grass too short!

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Mowing your lawn, although overlooked, greatly effects your lawn’s appearance and general health.

  • Don’t cut your grass too short, especially cool season grasses. Higher heights usually provide for a deeper root system, looks better, and is less likely to have weeds invading, particularly crabgrass. Turf type fescue should be cut at approximately 3”. During drought stress of the summer 3 ½-4 is suggested.
  • Don’t remove any more than one third of the grass leaves at any one cutting. If circumstances arise that a lawn gets too tall and you just have to lop off a bunch to get caught up, break it down into several mowings to get caught up with 3 or so days between cuttings
  • Try to avoid mowing when the grass is wet
  • When mowing only a third of your lawn with each cutting, you can safely leave the clippings that will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Contrary to popular opinion, grass clippings do not add to thatch buildup. Grass blades are made up of about 75% water
  • Mow your lawn in a different direction with each mowing, especially those with shorter grass types. Altering the direction ensures a more even cut since grass blades will grow more erect and less likely to develop into a set pattern
  • Keep your mower’s blade sharp, which means having it sharpened several times during the mowing season. A good idea is to keep several blades around so you’ll always have a sharp one on hand
  • Don’t forget to change your mower’s oil at least once during the mowing season
  • If you didn’t drain your gas tank in the fall, or use a fuel stabilizer, don’t use that old gas, it can cause a number of problems. Better to use fresh gasoline to begin the new mowing season
  • Avoid discharging grass clippings onto the street or driveways where they can be washed into the storm sewers and add to the pollution of our waterways


The center for Childhood Safety offers these tips for safe lawn mowing:

  • Keep children and pets out of the yard while mowing.
  • Do a walk-through of the area before you begin mowing. Clear the area of large sticks or other debris.
  • Wear clothing that offers some protection, like sturdy shoes with non-slip soles to provide good traction. Wear eye protection, like glasses, sunglasses, or goggles, while mowing.
  • Read the operating guide for your mower. Make sure you understand all of its safety features prior to use. Make sure your new power mower has a “dead man” control that stops the mower if you let go of the handle. Do not disable this or other safety features of your mower.
  • Do not cut the lawn when it’s raining, there’s lightning, or when the grass is slippery.
  • Adolescents should be at least 12 years of age before they operate lawn-mowing equipment. Discuss lawn mower safety with all of your children.
  • Never allow young children to ride alone on a riding mower.
  • Caution adolescents who are operating lawn-mowing equipment to avoid carelessly placing hands near power blades. Do not clean the grass exit with your hands.
  • Do not push a lawn mower onto the pavement. The lawn keeps objects from being hurled at a high speed. On the pavement, there is no such protection.
  • Make sure your mower is in good working condition at all times.
  • Do not operate a mower when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment.