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Proper Grass Cutting Heights

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Mow your lawn properly to help grow a healthy lawn.
lawn maintenance image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

If you want to grow the lushest, greenest grass in the neighborhood, you must adopt several care techniques. Proper irrigation and fertilizing, for example, are essential for a well-kept lawn. Proper mowing techniques, including maintaining and cutting at proper heights, are too.

Lawn Mowers

Rotary mowers are the most common mowers used and cut the grass with blades that spin horizontally across the grass. Rotary mowers rarely give a good cut when cutting the grass less than 1 inch, but it is easy to adjust the cutting height as necessary. Reel mowers, on the other hand, have blades that spin vertically and cut grass more like a pair of scissors would. It damages grass less than rotary mowers and provides a more uniform cut than rotary mowers, but adjusting the cutting height is difficult.

Proper Cutting Height

Different grasses fare better when cut to different heights. For example, warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, zoysia and centipede grass are usually best cut short, approximately 1 to 2 inches, depending on the variety. St. Augustine grass should be cut higher, between 2 1/2 and 4 inches. Cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, are usually best cut higher, approximately 2 to 3 inches. In the fall, make the last cut about an inch shorter though.

Mowing Frequency

No matter what the cutting height, don’t mow off more than one-third of the grass’s height at any one time. For example, a grass that is best cut to 2 inches should be mowed when or before it reaches 3 inches. This means regular, more frequent mowings are a must when properly caring for a lawn.

Other Lawn Care Tips

Grass clippings are generally small enough when you mow your grass frequently that you do not need to rake them up. They will decompose and add nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, common ingredients in fertilizers, back to your soil. Also, mow your grass when it’s dry; wet grass is difficult to mow. Change the direction of your mowing every one or two mowings. This will prevent the grass from being pushed down in any one direction. Also, have your mower blades sharpened in the spring and as needed during the growing season. Sharp blades make a clean cut, which is better for your lawn.


About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.