A Cut Above: When and How to Mow Your Yard

approaching mower shows how much grass has been cut

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The Grass is Greener. Learn When and How to Mow It.

Pending where you live, it’s probably prime grass-growing season right now. That has you thinking about breaking out your mower and getting it ready for the season ahead. But the ever-looming question remains. When is the best time to mow your lawn? When your grass is long, of course. Well, there’s more to it than that. There actually are ideal times to cut your lawn. Let’s go over them now.

Mid-Morning is Best.

Mid-morning hours between 8am and 10am make the best time to mow your lawn. By this time, the morning dew and irrigation has dried out, and the hot afternoon sun isn’t scorching yet.

Mid-Day is Okay.

If you want to mow between 2pm and 4pm, just know it can be hotter out — which makes it tougher on your mower and your body. On extremely hot days, wear light clothing, lather on the sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, and be mindful of heat stroke. Or better yet, just wait until it’s cooler. Like late afternoon.

Late Afternoon is Next to Best.

Next to mid-morning, late afternoon makes a great time to mow your yard. The hot sun has dipped down a bit so there will be less stress on your lawn and you. It even gives your grass time to recover from the cut before evening.

Sleep on Early Evening Mowing Sessions.

The night is almost here and you think you can hurry up and cut your yard before night fall. While you probably can get it done in time, you should wait until tomorrow. Cutting your grass in the early evening doesn’t give your yard enough time to recover before nighttime when it’s more susceptible to fungus and diseases.

Don’t Even Think About Early Morning.

If you don’t want to make your nice neighbors angry and your grass even madder, leave your lawn mower in your garage during the early morning hours from 6am to 8am. It’s the worst time to mow, and no good can ever come from it. The grass is still too wet from the morning dew and will clog your mower, leave horrible clumps of grass and mower tracks behind, and just upset your no-longer-sleeping neighbors.

Now That You Know When to Mow, Here are a Few Tips on How to Mow.

Set Your Mower Height.Setting the mower heigt on a walk behind mower

Take off the top 1/3 of the grass blade for starters. This ensures grass remains tall enough to promote stronger root growth and prevent weeds from forming. That said, if you have zoysia grass or centipedegrass, go ahead and lower your deck height to the middle setting. For Bermuda and creeping bentgrass, lower it to the lowest setting. Whatever you do, just make sure not to have the blades scrape your yard. See our recommended mowing heights by grass type chart at the end of this article.

Mow Dry.

As mentioned above, make sure your grass is free of morning dew or has had time to dry after recent rains. Cutting wet grass clogs your mower and leaves clumps behind. And it’s just bad for your grass health.

Zig if You Zagged.

Switch up the direction you mow every other time. Always mowing in the same direction could leave ruts in your yard, or make your grass lean in a specific way.

Mow When Needed.

Always waiting for the weekend to mow? What if your grass really needs a haircut on Wednesday? Make sure you cut your lawn when it looks like it needs it — not when its right for your schedule. It’s okay to actually enjoy your weekend from time to time.

Keep Your Skills Sharp — and Your BladesDull mower blades leaves grass vulnerable to disease Sharper.

Avoid cutting your grass with a chipped or dull blade. It only tears your grass blades instead of giving them a nice clean cut. Torn edges is what leads to those brown tips that you hate. It also makes your grass weaker, which leads to disease and insect damage.

Mulch it Up.

There’s really no reason to bag or rake up your grass clippings. Leave it on your lawn. A mulching blade chops it up into fine pieces that break down easily — feeding much-needed nutrients back into the soil. Besides, it’s just easier, too. Win, win.

Let it Grow.

New grass seed needs time to establish a strong root system. Let it grow big, strong and healthy before you take a mower over it.

They Grow Up So Fast.

Seems like just yesterday, your little green yard was just sprouting. Now it’s time to cut it again. If you know your type of grass, here’s a good mowing height chart to keep in mind before you cut.

Recommended Mowing Heights by Grass Type

Grass Type Inches
Annual Ryegrass 2 to 2-1/2
Bahiagrass 2 to 3
Bermudagrass 1 to 1-1/2
Centipedegrass 1-1/2 to 2
Fine Fescue 2 to 2-1/2
Kentucky Bluegrass 2-1/2 to 3
Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 2-1/2
St. Augustine Grass 2 to 3
Tall Fescue 2-1/2 to 3-1/2
Zoysiagrass 1 to 2