The Right Way to Mow an Overgrown Lawn

Is your lawn overgrown?

You may have just returned from a long vacation – or perhaps you’ve been busy lately. Either way, an overgrown lawn is something many homeowners must confront from time to time.  

Regular lawn mowing is an important part of keeping your grass healthy. Done wrong, and your grassy pride and joy could turn brown and unattractive.

If that’s what you are looking at right now, don’t fret. We’ve got some tips to help get your lawn back to a more manageable height.

Is your lawn overgrown?
Is your lawn overgrown?

The Rule of Thumb for Mowing

The general rule of thumb is to only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mow. By setting your mowing height to this mark, you’ll avoid removing too much of the leaf blade at once.

When you remove too much of the leaf blade at one time, your lawn is scalped. You will then be cutting into the stem of the grass. This can ruin the health of your grass, resulting in a patchy-looking lawn.

If – for some reason – your lawn is particularly overgrown, you may need to raise the mower height a little more. This will ensure you’re not cutting too low.

To get the correct mowing height, mow over a small area first using a high setting. This way, you avoid accidentally scalping your turf. You can bring the level down from there if required.

After you’ve mowed a third off the top, experts recommend waiting three days before giving it another mow.

Follow the same process during the third mowing. That is, adjust your mowing height and wait another 3 days before mowing again.

From there, correct mowing becomes a simple process of repeating this procedure until you get the height you desire.

Mowing your lawn back down to its original height outright may be tempting, but it’s best to be patient. Slowly bring the height of the mower down to ensure your grass remains healthy.

While this process takes time, it’s less stressful on the grass. That’s the best way to ensure you don’t ruin your lawn altogether.

The general rule of thumb is to only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mow.
The general rule of thumb is to only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mow.

How to Mow an Overgrown Lawn

If you haven’t mown your lawn for a particularly long time, you may find yourself wading into knee-high grass. If this is the case, you’ll need a slightly different approach.

If the lawn is too high for a mower, reduce its height with a whipper snipper. This should help cut the grass to a height you can manage with a lawnmower.

Once that’s done, you can trim the lawn back down with your mower. This time, you can go a notch lower than usual, depending on the variety of grass you grow.

If you have buffalo grass, it’s important to not go too low. You might damage the runners the grass needs to repair. You can learn more about the ideal height for a variety of grasses here.

Your lawn will not be in the best of shape after you’ve taken a whipper snipper to it. There will be very little leaf left, but don’t let that upset you. Just allow your lawn to recover over the course of a few weeks.

During this recovery period, it’s best to water your lawn regularly. Continue to mow the turf back to its normal mowing height, as well. This will allow the grass time to heal and grow back to your desired level.

Once your lawn has started to recover with new green growth, you can fertilize. But keep in mind it’s important not to fertilize straightaway.

Fertilizing a newly-mown lawn can create more stress for the grass. You should avoid applying fertilizer to your lawn during the cooler months, as well.

In spring and summer, the lawn should be able to recover in a few weeks. That’s because growing conditions are ideal.

This is not the case in autumn and winter. Your lawn will take longer to repair as the grass’s growth will slow down as the temperature drops.

Different grasses require different mowing heights.
Different grasses require different mowing heights.

Why Regular Mowing is Important

While mowing your lawn can be tedious, you need to ensure that it’s done regularly. Regular mowing is key to keeping your turf healthy and green.

Regular mowing ensures more consistent growth. The result is a lawn that’s healthier and less susceptible to weeds, pests, and diseases.

When you mow your lawn regularly, you make the task easier. Your lawn will flourish over time, too.

While mowing your lawn can be tedious, you need to ensure that it’s done regularly.
While mowing your lawn can be tedious, you need to ensure that it’s done regularly.

What to Do Before Leaving Your Lawn for a Long Time

If you’re going away, it’s best to mow your lawn the day before you leave. If that’s not possible, choose a time that’s close to your departure.

You might be tempted to mow your lawn shorter than usual. Many do that to prevent their lawns from getting out of hand while they are away on vacation. But that’s a good way to ruin your lawn altogether.

If you’re going away for more than a week in spring, have someone mow your lawn for you, instead. If you’re going away over the warmer months, consider using a plant growth regulator (PGR) such as Primo Maxx.

A PGR will help slow down the growth of your grass. You won’t have to mow your lawn as frequently.


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