Mowing- How Low Should You Go?

Andrea Burns
Ford County Extension Agent

One of the first sounds of spring is the homeowner firing up their lawn mowers and mowing their grass for the first time of the season. While some of you might be imagining a scene with Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) from the show Home Improvement, that first trim of the season can be an important one.

The question is often asked, should I mow my yard lower than normal in the spring? The answer is both yes and no. It doesn’t hurt to mow lower than normal the first mowing or two.  It will actually speed up the greening up process by removing the old, dead grass and allowing the soil to warm up faster.

Doing this on the first two cuttings is fine, but the mowing height should be returned to normal after the second cutting to discourage crabgrass growth and encourage deep rooting.

Crabgrass seed must have light to germinate and a high mowing height will help shade the soil. Also, root depth and mowing height are related on upright growing grasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass — the higher the height of cut, the deeper the root system. A deeper root system means a more drought-resistant turf.

Root depth and mowing height are related on upright growing grasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass-the higher the cut the deeper the root system. A deeper root system means a more drought-resistant turf. Therefore, the higher the mowing height the deeper the root system. 

So, how low should you go on the first cutting? On tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, you should mow turf at about 1 to 1 ½ inches. Be careful you do not go so low as to scalp the turf.  The normal mowing height for Kentucky bluegrass is 2 to 3 inches and 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches for tall fescue.

For more information on lawn care, visit us on the web at www.ford.ksu.edu.

Have a great weekend!