The Importance of Proper Mowing Height for Lawns

Proper lawn care includes setting the right mowing height for your grass. If you’re not sure what grass has been used in your lawn, you may need to start seeding or setting sod starters. In that case, your mowing height should be set for the grass you want to thrive.

Shade Vs. Sun

As a general rule, sun-tolerant grasses spread by rhizome and thrive when mowed at a shorter height. Both Zoysia and Bermuda grass will do best when mowed off at less than 1.5 inches. If you’re trying to slow the spread of these grasses, mow higher so that cooler-season grasses, such as Fescue, can thrive. Cool season grasses tend to thrive in the shade, while hot season grasses need and love plenty of sun.

Heat Vs. Cool

Grasses that thrive in hot weather, such as Buffalo grass and Kikuyu grass, need a fairly short cut. Cool weather grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue need to be cut between 3.5 and 4 inches to thrive. If you have a lawn that gets lots of sun and you want a lush lawn of deep green Fescue, keep the cutting height high and prepare to water frequently.

Weed Control

Part of lawn management is keeping your grass healthy enough to smother weeds. If your lawn has a limited amount of grass but plenty of weeds, you may need to set the blade at the highest recommended point for the grass you’re hoping to grow. This will create a light barrier for weed seeds on the soil and can improve the quality of your grass over time. Avoid scalping your lawn if weeds are a serious issue. You will provide weed seeds a great deal of light and promote weed overgrowth.


The best time of day to water is early in the morning and the best time of day to mow is in the evening. Mowing wet grass will be hard on you, your mower and your lawn. If you must mow early, try to water directly after and be done by 11 a.m.

Timing Is Key

It’s important to note that mowing is a form of damage to your lawn. If you mow early in the day, your shortened grass will be at the mercy of the sun all day long. If you have cut it too short, you may weaken the root clumps of the grass you’re trying to get to grow. Mow in the evening to give your lawn a 12 hour break from direct sunlight.

Lawnmower Maintenance

No matter the grass you’re cutting, you need a properly maintained lawnmower to keep things healthy. In addition to taking care of oil changes and keeping the air filter changed, the sharpness of your lawnmower blade can mean the difference between healthy grass and a battered, weed-filled lawn. Your mower blade should be sharpened at least once a year, before the first cutting. 

As noted above, cutting your grass is a form of damage. It encourages the plant to think it’s under stress and send out new roots via clumping or rhizomes, thus creating a thicker lawn. If your blade is sharp enough to shorten the grass with a clean cut, the grass will seek new energy by spreading across the soil. If the blade is dull, you’re going to club your grass to death. Your lawnmower blade will stay in better shape if you mow the grass when it’s dry.


No matter your landscaping goals, you can enjoy a beautiful lawn. Carefully note the type of grass you currently have, the amount of sun your lawn gets and your watering schedule. Set your blade at the highest point for your lawn type and mow in the early evening.