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Three Mowing Tips to Improve Your Lawn

June 6, 2013

Mow taller.  You hear experts say to mow your grass tall.  You see your neighbors mow at different heights.  So the question comes up:  “What is a good mowing height for my grass?”  Different kinds of grass types like different mowing heights, so here are some guidelines for how tall your grass should be after you mow.  The higher end of the range is good during the hot summer months.  Then around September you could drop down to the lower end of the range for your grass type leaving the setting at that level until next summer.

2-1/2 to 4 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue

2 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass

1 to 3 inches for Centipedegrass

1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass

3 /4 to 2 inches for Zoysia

Don’t cut more than one-third.  Many folks cut off TOO MUCH grass when they mow.  Your lawn suffers when you mow off more than 1/3 of the top growth at a time because you force it to scramble to create more leaf growth to survive.  This extra energy to create leaf growth comes at the expense of root growth.  If you mow frequently enough so that you never cut off more than 1/3 of the leaf growth you will not “shock” your grass plants and stunt their root system.

Let me show you how this relates to your mowing height by giving you guidelines for when to mow at various mowing heights:

Final Mowing Height

Mow Grass When This Tall

Amount You Can Cut to Limit to 1/3




1 inch

1-1/2 inches

½ inch

1-1/2 inches

2-1/4 inches

¾ inch

2 inches

3 inches

1 inch

2-1/2 inches

3-3/4 inches

1-1/4 inches

3 inches

4-1/2 inches

1-1/2 inches

 So you see from the chart that the shorter you mow your grass the more frequently you will have to mow to not violate the 1/3 rule.  (Since golf course managers mow their greens short, they have to mow daily to keep from violating the 1/3 rule.)  As homeowners, we tend to get on a schedule to mow once a week.  If we do not set the mower at one of the taller settings, we will mow off too much with this weekly mowing schedule.  This is one of the reasons why lawn experts tell you to mow your grass taller as a way of encouraging you to not mow off too much at a time.

Leave your clippings.  Allowing your grass clippings to stay on your lawn will return some free food back to your grass plants.  Now if you find that you have to break the one-third rule because of vacation or too much rainy weather, leaving you with an excess of grass clippings, then pick them up to help keep from smothering your grass.

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  1. Joe F permalink

    What is a good fertlizer product to put down this time of year on Long Island? One that will strengthen, prepare for drought, thicken up the lawn, and green it up? I used scotts weed and feed back in the beginning of may.

    • Hi Joe F You can put down Turf Builder with SummerGuard to both a feeding and to kill insects that can thin your lawn and cause it to turn brown, like sod webworm and chinch bugs.

  2. Joe F permalink

    Thanks. Why do you not recommend scotts turf builder lawn fertlizer with iron instead? I am really looking for something to green it up and prepare for hot summer months. I am not concerned with bugs

  3. Ashton-
    Thanks for the mowing tips!
    Quick fertilizer question…is there a Snap Spreader product similar to SummerGuard?

    • Hi Andy
      You would need to use two SNAP products to get the Turf Builder SummerGuard benefits: The SNAP Pac Lawn Fertilizer and the SNAP Pac Insect Killer For Lawns. Sorry, there is not a combination product like SummerGuard yet in a SNAP Pac.

  4. Brian V permalink

    Hi Ashton,

    Two weeks ago I dropped GrubEx, then this weekend I dropped Weed and Feed. If I wanted to drop an insect killer next weekend, would that be too much stress on the grass? All applications are followed by deep watering.


    • Hi Brian V You can put down Ortho Bug B Gon MAX next weekend. Your plan to water after application is good. I assume you did not water after putting down your weed and feed last weekend as it is better for the weed control to stay in contact with the weed leaves for 24 hours.

      • Brian V permalink

        Oops!…Didn’t know that. I did water yesterday. I guess I know for next time.

      • Brian V permalink

        Also, since I have the Snap System, is the Scotts Snap Pac 8 lb. Multi Insect Killer a good substitute for the Ortho?

      • Hi Brian Yes the SNAP Pac Lawn Insect Killer will do a great job. Hope you are enjoying your SNAP!

  5. Karloren permalink

    Hi Ashton,

    We live in Florida. We have a new St Augustine grass (5 months old). We found out last week, we have a heavy infestation of tropical sod webworm. We immediately applied Ortho Bug B Gon MAX and a fungus product but we still can see the worms walking on our grass which has brown spots everywhere (It lokks horrible). Do we need to wait longer for the product to be effective o do we need to apply something else? We are not sure it is going to be too much for the grass if we apply something else.


    • Hi Karloren
      The Ortho Bug B Gon MAX should stop the sodwebworms fairly fast. If the infestation is heavy in a week, you could treat again. You could also feed your grass with Scotts Southern Turf Builder or Scotts GreenMAX if you have not done so in the last couple of months. This will encourage new growth that will help your lawn grow out of the damage you are seeing. By the way, you may still see lawn moths once the sodwebworms are under control, however the moths do not feed on your grass.

  6. Karloren permalink

    Thank you for your advice!!..We’ll apply the Scotts Southern Turf Builder or Scotts GreenMAX today but It is not going to be too much to apply the Ortho Bug B Gon MAX this week again? The direction in the bag says it last about three months..


    • Hi Karloren You should get up to 3 months control with the Bug B Gon MAX. There are three different spreader settings on the package providing three different application rates. If you used one of the lower two rates (means the bag covers more area) you could treat again if you are not seeing control at the lower rate. The highest rate is for Fire Ants which also would provide longer control of the other insects including Sod Webworm.

  7. Jerry permalink

    Applied SCOTTS fertlizer yesterday to yard. When can I cut the grass. It hasn’t rained.

    • Hi Jerry
      Mow your grass when it reaches your regular mowing height. Turf Builder does not need to be watered after spreading, however watering will get your feeding going.

  8. Ken T permalink

    I live near Galveston in south Texas. 99 % of lawns down here are st. Augustine. I have a lawn service and I am worried that I might be spreading weeds and brown spot. How likely is it that that I’m taking from yard to yard?

    • Hi Ken T.
      Some folks say fungus spores can be spread by lawn mowers. My good friend Walter Reeves here in Georgia suggests that this is not the case. Here is a link to the way he answered this question: (Walter retired from the Georgia Extension Service and hosts a very popular gardening radio show in Atlanta. I trust his advice.)
      The point is that the fungus spores are commonly around and will infect a lawn if the conditions are right. Regarding weed seeds, most of the time you are mowing prior to the weed seeds actually getting mature (ripe) and so if they are on your equipment, they are less likely to germinate. Happy Thanksgiving!

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