How Often Should You Cut the Grass?
People often ask the question – how often should I cut the grass? Rather ask yourself ‘should I cut the grass or not?’ and then follow some basic lawn care advice.
There is no correct frequency in which to mow your lawn. This will vary each and every year and depend on where you live. For example in the UK people living in the south will probably have to begin cutting the lawn earlier than those in the north, because of the differences in the climate.
How often you cut the grass is down to a number of factors as well as personal preference. For grass to grow you need three basic elements, heat, water and nutrients. These factors will determine the speed of grass growth and will vary on where you are living. How short you want the grass is a separate question and down to personal preference. This means, how often you need to cut the grass varies from person to person and lawn to lawn.
The First Cut of the Year
Typically most people will cut the grass for the first time when the weather begins to get warmer, probably around March-April time as the grass really starts to grow.
The first cut of the grass growing season is also probably the most important too. People in the UK typically like a short, well-kept lawn, however many people cut the grass far too short on the first cut of the year.
When cutting the grass you should always follow the one third rule. Never cut more than a third of the blade of grass off in one go. Cutting more than this will stress the grass. Grass that turns yellow or brown can be a tell-tale sign that the grass may have been cut too short or overly stressed.
To achieve the length of grass you want you may need to cut your lawn over a number of weeks. Gradually decrease the cutting height of your lawn mower over a number of weeks until you reach the preferred grass height.
People in the UK generally cut their grass shorter than those living in mainland Europe. Shorter however, isn’t necessarily better and height of the grass should vary throughout the year.
Under normal UK weather conditions during March to June you may only need to cut the lawn once or twice a month.
When the weather gets warmer around July time, you may need to cut the grass once or twice a week to keep the grass the length you want it.
If you cut the lawn frequently and collect all the clippings, you may need to fertilise your lawn. By collecting the clippings each time you may inadvertently create a nitrogen deficient in the lawn, as the clippings are not able to breakdown and return to the lawn, adding all their lovely nutrients back in to the ground.
You will find that the frequency you cut the grass begins to decrease as the weather cools as your start to reach the autumn, around September/October time. These dates will vary depending on the climate and location each year.
Cutting the Grass in Extremely Hot or Cold Conditions
Grass needs a temperature of at least 6 Celsius to grow, and will grow at varying speeds depending on the temperature. During extremely hot or cold periods grass growth will be slowed.
During the winter and periods of extreme heat you should avoid cutting the grass where possible. Instead you should avoid cutting the lawn and allow the grass to remain longer in length.
In hot conditions longer grass provides the soil shade, and shelters it from the sun’s rays, preventing water in the soil from evaporating, which provides additional water for the grass to survive on. In the winter longer grass provides the soil with insulation, and helps combat frost, and the growth of moss.
Sometimes when the weather is hot, the grass can turn yellow in colour. This doesn’t mean necessarily mean that the grass is dying, but is a sign that the grass is trying to conserve energy. If this is the case, do not cut the grass, rather allow it to grow.
You could also consider giving it thorough water, but avoid doing this in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest as water will be evaporated by the sun, making it an inefficient use of resources, plus the water can act as a magnifying glass, burning the grass blades and weakening it, making it more susceptible to disease.
If the grass does grow a little longer than you want in the winter, don’t be afraid to cut it. The biggest problem you will face when cutting your grass in the winter will be finding suitable conditions to mow your lawn. You should always wait until the soil is dry before mowing the grass, and avoid cutting the grass when it is wet. Cutting wet grass may damage your lawn and cause damage to your lawn mower.
Cutting New Grass
Cutting new grass poses its own challenges. New grass that has been grown from seed will be much weaker that the rest of your lawn and can be easily damaged if cut incorrectly.
Try and avoid cutting new grass until it is at least 3 inches or more in length, and mow less frequently possible than the rest of your lawn. Try and limit the footfall of these areas of your lawn where possible and avoid turning your lawn mower in these areas, especially when using a wheeled lawn mower to avoid leaving tread marks and turning the soil. Also if you use a lawnmower with a roller, remove it when cutting areas of new grass.