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Do You Lower Your Mower for the Last Cut of the Year?

November 13, 2013

I know some of your lawns have already seen a dusting of snow.  Even so, I get the “What height for my last mowing?” question every year.  Some folks say:  “Take it down lower.”  Others say:  “Leave it long.”

My answer:  Keep on mowing at the same cutting height until your grass quits growing.

Recommended grass heights after you mow:

  • 2-1/2 to 3 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fine Fescue
  • 3 inches for Tall Fescue and Buffalograss
  • 3 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass
  • 1-1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass and Zoysia
I mow my Tall Fescue/Ky Bluegrass lawn at around 3 inches (after the cut)

I mow my Tall Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass lawn at around 3 inches (after the cut).

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  1. Rick permalink

    Cutting it lower safeguards against snow molds

    • Hi Rick… Good point. If your lawn typically gets snow mold in winter, you could drop your mower a notch, however I still would not scalp it down too low. The reason is that any sunny days you are getting between that final mowing and really cold weather will help your green grass blades continue to use photosynthesis to produce extra carbohydrates to store in your grass roots.

      • Rick permalink

        Absolutely Ashton, my lawn in the summer is about 7″ from the soil to tip after cutting so brining it down to 2.5″ over time is strange for the neighbors to see in late autumn, but does wonders to guard against molds…one bad thing about keeping it long is our resident rabbits love to dig in and under to give birth in on the south lawn where all the large pines are…

      • Hi Rick… Thanks for passing along your lawn info/experiences/suggestions. Hope you have kids or grandkids who get to experience your rabbit adventures.

    • Cliff S permalink

      It also helps to prevent vole damage if you get snow cover over the winter too (although I suspect for most a final cut when the law stops growing would work for most lawns).

      • Hi Cliff S
        Thanks for your comment/suggestion. Voles like to nest between the snow and the grass (not to be confused with moles that tunnel in the soil below the grass.) Vole damage and snow mold tend get corrected when a well fed, healthy lawn begins to grow in spring. Using a leaf rake to lightly break up snow mold helps to allow sunlight and air to get to the crown of the grass plant where new growth begins. We appreciate your input.

  2. Rick permalink

    Hi Ashton, I was wondering if you can do a piece on winter over seeding in the Midwest region, I’ve been pondering giving it a try since I couldn’t pass up a great deal on a recent seed purchase. I have read it works on the basis of “heaving”…if you have a moment can you shed some light on this subject? Thank you in advance

  3. Gary Ray permalink

    I have a fescue/ky bluegrass/rye lawn that I have been mowing at 3″ all year. We have had a couple of frosts lately, and it looks like the lawn is not growing very much at the present time. I’m planning my final mowing for 11/20, tomorrow. Should I leave the setting at 3″, or should I lower it to 2 1/2″ for the final mowing? I live in Kentucky if that makes any difference.

    • Hi Gary Ray… I would leave the cut at the same level as you have been mowing this year since Snow Mold is not a big problem where you live. You could still feed your lawn Turf Builder WinterGuard now if you have only fed it once this fall. This would help build carbohydrate food storage in the roots to strengthen your grass for next year.

  4. Gary Ray permalink

    Thanks Ashton! I have already applied the Winterguard, so now all that remains is the final mowing. Of course, there will still be some leave clean-up the next couple of weeks.

    I always enjoy reading your advice blog.There always seems to be something in it that I didn’t know, or was unsure of. pertaining to lawn care. I have been a Scotts fan for over 40 years!

  5. How can you tell the ground is frozen and to late to use winterguard ?

    • Hi Bob Cusek:
      Use a trowel to dig down a few inches and you will be able to tell if your soil is frozen if you see ice crystals rather than moisture. If your soil is easy to dig, it is likely not frozen. We tend to think of the last feeding a week prior to or after Thanksgiving depending on where you are located. For example, cool-season grasses like Fescue in Richmond, Virginia tend to be by Dec 10.

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