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How to Mow Winter Rye Grass

Grass lawn image by Dan Marsh from

Mowing winter rye grass is an important maintenance consideration and one that you must do correctly. Whether annual or perennial, winter rye grass is grown extensively for ground cover, erosion control and weed suppression during the winter and spring. Winter rye grass also provides the discerning homeowner with an attractive expanse of green lawn while the rest of the neighborhood is an unattractive brown. Winter rye grass does require the same maintenance as a lawn in the summer. Mowing the grass is the primary maintenance during the winter.

Use a lawn mower with sharp blades when mowing newly sown or young rye grass to avoid pulling or ripping the seedlings out of the ground.

Mow the rye grass often enough throughout the fall to maintain it at a height of no more than 2 1/2 inches. Avoid entering the winter months with the grass higher than 3 inches, because conditions such as lodging, winter and early spring diseases or excessive browning of the turf can result, notes the University of Kentucky.

Maintain the height of the winter grass at 1 ½ to 2 inches, mowing as often as necessary to avoid cutting off more than one-third to one-half of the grass blade at any one time. Scalping the winter grass blades more than this can cause weed growth and weaken the grass.

Do not collect the grass clippings in the lawn mower basket. Allow them to remain on the lawn to provide nutrients to the lawn unless the grass is high and the clippings will smother the lawn.


Determine a mowing frequency that will maintain the lawn at the correct height and that will be the same number of times each week. This makes it easier to determine when to mow the lawn. Grass clippings can be left on the lawn, they do not cause thatch buildup.

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