Cutting the grass is the most important part of caring for a lawn.
Many people make the biggest mistake of all by cutting grass too short. They let it grow over the course of a couple of weeks and then hack it all off.
If you do this, you will ruin your lawn pretty quickly.
So that begs the question;
‘How often should you cut grass?’
Well, the short answer is little and often but there’s a bit more to it.
I’ll explain all in this article, as well as the benefits of regular mowing and how infrequent mowing damages your lawn.
How Often Should You Cut Grass?
On a couple of things;
- The time of year, and
- How high or short you like your lawn to be cut
The Time of Year
You’ll need to mow more regularly at different times of year than at others.
Spring and autumn provide the best conditions for grass growth. As a result, growth speeds up and so you’ll need to mow more regularly.
During the summer, growth slows down and so you won’t need to mow as often.
In winter, growth is incredibly slow and all but stops. So many people choose not to cut the grass at all.
How Short or Tall You Like Your Grass
The rule of thumb is to only ever remove a maximum of a third of the length off the grass.
So if you like your lawn best when the grass is 5cm tall, you’d have to mow before or when it gets to 6.5cm.
Now, depending on the season, this might mean you have to mow every 3 days, you might have to mow every 7. It completely depends on how quickly the grass is growing.
However, the shorter you like the cut to be, the more often you’ll need to mow.
For example, if you have a very short, formal lawn which you like at 10mm you’ll need to cut the grass before or when it reaches 13mm. This could mean you have to mow every day in the spring and autumn.
Also when cutting long grass, you need to bring the height down gradually. This means mowing fore often.
Regardless of mowing height, never leave your lawn more than 10 days without a cut between spring and autumn. Weed grasses like Annual Meadow Grass can take advantage of the lack of mowing and spread rapidly.
The Benefits of Mowing the Grass Regularly
As I said right at the beginning of this article, the best approach is to mow little and often.
This has several benefits;
It Keeps Your Lawn Neat and Tidy
This is the most obvious benefit but when you mow regularly, it keeps the grass at a nice, uniformed hight
When you just leave grass to grow, it can grow unevenly and look untidy fairly quickly. This is because different grass types grow more quickly than others.
By mowing regularly, you keep all grass types at the same height, no matter how quickly or slowly they grow.
You Remove a Healthy Amount of Leaf
Mowing regularly means you remove a smaller part of the grass leaf.
By never cutting more than a third of the height off the lawn, the grass is able to cope without any problems.
It still has plenty of stored food and it retains the ability to produce more.
It Creates a Thicker, Denser Sward
Removing the tips of the grass leaves is like pruning a plant.
It releases a hormone which creates bushier growth from the base. As a result, your lawn becomes thicker and denser.
Over time, this improves the appearance and vigour of your lawn.
There’s Less Room For Weeds and Moss
A denser sward doesn’t only improve the appearance of your lawn.
It also acts as a barrier which prevents weed seeds from being able to come into contact with the soil. That means they can’t germinate and become a problem.
There’s is also no room for moss to creep in and invade.
You Save Money and Time
You’ll also save the time you would have repairing the lawn.
How Infrequent Mowing Damages Your Lawn
If you’re not so green-fingered and you’d rather do anything else than cut the grass, the temptation might be to cut it short once a fortnight.
By doing this, you’ll damage the lawn in a number of ways;
You Rob the Grass of its Ability to Produce Food
See, grass leaves are like solar panels.
They work like solar panels in that they trap light from the sun which is used in photosynthesis, or the production of food.
When you mow infrequently you’re almost guaranteed to mow too short. As a result, you remove most of the leaf and therefore its ability to produce food.
You Take Away it Stored Food Supply
Grass leaves also store food (in the form of water, proteins and carbohydrates) in their leaves. It uses this food supply in times of stress.
For example, like in the dry summer heat when there’s not enough moisture to keep producing food.
When you let grass to grow long and then cut it short, you take away that stored food supply.
The grass is then forced to put any resources it has left into repairing itself by growing new leaf so it can produce and store more food as quickly as possible.
This comes at the expense of root development, which, causes more issues;
Because the grass puts all its (now limited) resources into producing new leaf, root development stalls.
This causes shallow rooting which limits how much water the grass can consume from the soil.
So as the weather starts to warm up and the upper layer of soil dries out, so does the grass.
Weed and Moss Invasions
Again, because root development stalls as the grass tries to repair its leaves, you end up a with weak, sparse and patchy lawn.
The rest of the lawn quickly gets taken over by weeds and moss.
Onset of Disease
When you leave grass to grow long before mowing, it holds on to moisture.
This means you might find yourself mowing wet grass, despite it appearing dry on the surface.
Cutting the grass when it’s wet causes it to tear instead of cutting cleanly and this can open the door to fungal diseases like Red Thread.
How often you cut the grass is really dictated by how long you like your lawn to be and how quickly the grass is growing.
The shorter you like the cut, the more often you’ll need to mow so be realistic about how much time you want to spend with your lawn mower.
If you’re not a keen gardener, you have two options;
- You can mow it on the higher side, that way you won’t have to mow as often or,
- If you like a short cut, invest in the best robot lawn mower you can afford. This will cut the grass automatically with no input from you.
Still, you need to know at least once every 10 days between spring and autumn.
Any more than that and the infrequent mowing will have a detrimental impact on your lawn.