‘Ideal height’ to mow lawns before winter arrives to avoid ‘damage’

Garden tips: How to maintain your lawn

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Winter lawn care can mean that gardeners don’t stop mowing their lawn for winter, depending on the type of grass that grows in the garden and the temperature where they live. Gardening expert Rachel Crow explained: “The length you cut your lawn will also change throughout the year, depending on whether the grass is in growth mode or going into a dormant period. In winter, you’ll need to adjust the height of your lawn mower blades to get the ideal cut.”

Carlos Real, Lawn Expert and Managing Director of Total Lawn advised mowing lawns short as this is a way to protect them. 

He said: “In the midst of autumn, you should cut your grass shorter to help protect it from common diseases and damage over the cold, winter period. This can be achieved by reducing the height of your mower blade.

“The ideal height for your lawn is anywhere between two and three inches. Cutting it any shorter may lead to a longer recovery come springtime.”

This is because having the lawn too short causes stress that damages the roots and leaves of the grass, making it vulnerable to pests and poor weather.

Carlos said: “You should never cut off more than one-third of your grass height in one mow, as doing so will put it under too much stress.

“If your lawn is any taller than three to four inches, it may take a couple of mows before your lawn is at the desired height.”

The question of when to stop mowing the lawn for winter will depend on local weather conditions. For those who live somewhere with warmer temperatures and more daylight, they can continue to cut their grass later than you would if winter comes early, with short, dark days and lower temperatures.

The lawn expert explained: “The limited amount of sunlight during autumn and winter limits grass growth, meaning your lawn will eventually become dormant and stop growing, or its growth rate will slow considerably.

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“Until that point, continue mowing once a week. Only once you’ve noticed your grass isn’t growing, or frost/snow covers your lawn, should you stop cutting it for winter. 

“If the winter is particularly mild and the grass continues to grow, then carry on mowing occasionally throughout.”

Before cutting the grass before winter, spend some time on maintenance. For cool season grasses – that is, those that continue to grow for longer as the temperature drops – early autumn is the best time to dethatch lawns. This is also the time to aerate lawns to avoid the issue of waterlogging during the rain and snow season.

Carlos suggested: “Before the extreme weather hits, a dose of seaweed should be applied to help with stress tolerance, while a cold season fertiliser can be used from December to February.”

Once the cold weather arrives, be sure to keep up the lawn care routine to ensure lush green grass once spring arrives.

While it is advised to cut lawns short for winter, this should not be done in wet weather. Mowing grass when it is wet can cause “scalping” as the mower sinks into the soft ground and cuts the lawn too short. 

Cutting wet grass can also make it vulnerable to pests, which will damage the look and health of the lawn over time.

Wait for a dry day, with no frost or rain, before bringing out the lawn mower. “Choose a day when the grass is dry and the ground isn’t boggy,” confirmed gardening expert and broadcaster, Alan Titchmarsh.

Unless gardeners live in a very cold environment, or the weather is extreme and unpredictable in their region, then most experts agree that the time to start mowing the lawn again after winter is around mid-February to March. 

In these early days of spring, the soil temperature should have risen and gardeners should be able to find a frost-free and dry day on which to mow their lawn. In springtime, as the grass begins to regenerate and put up new shoots after winter, gardeners will probably need to mow every two weeks. 

In summer, in peak season when the lawn is growing fast and is lush and green, the grass will require a weekly mow. 

In fall, as growth slows, gardeners can reduce mowing to once every two or three weeks. In winter, only mow as required.

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