How To Mow Tall Grass

Last Updated on December 11, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

You’ve been away from home for a few weeks and arrived back to what looks like a jungle.

An overgrown lawn isn’t what you want to be greeted by, so you need to get your lawn back under control.

It only takes a couple of rain showers and a bit of sunshine to have your lawn growing like crazy.

How to mow tall grass is a question many people ask, as it’s not as easy as you’d think.

Mowing tall grass can be difficult for both you and your lawn mower. It’s hard work and will test your lawn mower to its limits, having to work its way through the long, heavy grass.

If your grass has grown too long, you should first hack it with a lightweight cordless grass trimmer or a weed cutter tool. This will get it to a reasonable height to be able to tackle it with your lawn mower without causing any damage.

Don’t know where to begin with the best way to cut tall grass?

Don’t worry.

We’ll let you know just how you should handle mowing tall grass to get it back under control.

You’ll have it back to its best in next to no time at all.

How To Cut Tall Grass With a Riding Mower?

It can be a daunting task to have to cut your tall grass with a riding mower. The tall overgrown grass can hide a multitude of things that can cause damage to your lawn mower, so you need to be careful.

There are a number of steps you should take before cutting the tall grass.

Pick the Right Time

You shouldn’t mow long grass when it’s wet.

However, long grass will be moist, even in the driest weather, as the soil is sheltered from the sun. This means that it doesn’t dry out the same as shorter grass.

By mowing the long grass when it’s wet, you will cause damage to your lawn mower and your grass.

It could also cause an accident if the lawn mower slips or loses traction in the wet.

The best time to mow long grass would be on one dry day in spring, summer, or early fall.

This will give you the best results and will make your job a lot easier.

Clear the Area

It’s important that you check over the area to be mowed before starting as you don’t know what will be hiding in the jungle of long grass.

There could be rocks, stones, litter or tree roots and stumps hidden out of sight. All of these could be a hazard and cause problems if hit by lawn mowers.

You should also make sure that there are no animals who have made your nice tall grass their home while you’ve been away.

There may be a family of frogs or mice living there who would be happy to flee before being hit by your mower.

Also, if it’s the season for snakes in your area, careful clearing first will help to avoid any chances of snake injury.

Ensure that you clear the area first, and then you can mow without worrying what you may hit.

Trim the Grass First

If the grass has been left for a long time and is a few feet in height, there’s no way your mower will be able to tackle it. The grass should be a maximum of 6 to 8 inches to be able to mow it without any issues.

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The long grass will need to be hacked back with equipment such as a weed whacker or a grass whip to get it to a manageable height for your mower to take over.

Don’t worry what it looks like at this point; you’re just getting it to a height so that your mower can take over.

Once it’s at a height that your riding mower can handle, you can then mow it properly and make it look like a great lush lawn again.

Get the Right Height

On the first cut with your lawn mower you should set the blade height at its highest. This will make the job more manageable for your mower and will speed the process up.

It will also give you a better finish than trying to cut it too low on the first attempt.

By cutting it too low on the initial cut, you may weaken the grass, causing damage and possibly even killing it.

Once the first cut is completed, you should wait a few days and then cut it a little shorter.

The grass will thank you for it.

Get the Right Speed

Don’t try to mow long grass quickly.

Slow and steady will get the job done far better than speeding along and damaging the grass.

You may feel like you’re going too slow, and it’s taking forever by having the mower on its slowest speed setting.

However, if you rush the job, you will not cut the grass evenly, and it may look ragged.

This will mean that you’ll need to start the mowing process all over again, which will take more time in the long run.

Cut in a Circuit

When cutting tall grass, you want to put as little strain onto your mower and its blades as possible.

With this in mind, you should cut the grass in a circuit, always making sure that the blade is halfway in the tall grass and halfway in the cut grass.

It may feel like it’s taking you longer doing it this way as you’re only mowing half the blade width of grass on each circuit.

However, this will reduce the strain and pressure on the mower blade and give you great results.

Change Direction

When mowing in a circuit around your lawn with a riding mower, the long grass that’s been cut will be blown to the side.

This will mean that you’ll have clumps of grass clippings piled up in areas of your lawn where you haven’t yet mowed.

As you reach this grass, it will make the mowing process harder work and may clog up the mower. This will ultimately give you poor results and may damage the mower.

The way to get around this is by occasionally changing direction when mowing.

This will blow the cut grass in the other direction and away from where you need to trim.

Take a Break

If it’s a large area of overgrown lawn that you’re mowing, you should make sure to give your lawn mower a break every now and then.

By turning lawn mowers off every 30 minutes or so, you will allow them to cool down and stop them from overheating.

While it’s cooling down, it will give you the chance to check the mower over. You should make sure that the blades are not clogged and that there’s plenty of fuel in the mower to continue the job.

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Also check to see that there’s no debris near the engine or wiring, as this could damage the mower.

How Grass Type Affects Mowing Height

Different types of grass grow at different speeds and at different times of the year.

Understanding the type of grass you have in your lawn is the first step to knowing how to look after it. This will help you to know how to mow it correctly and what height it should be mowed to so that you get the best out of your grass.

All grasses should be left to grow higher during the summer months, regardless of the type of grass. This will keep the grass moist during any summer droughts and will reduce the need for watering when water may be scarce.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses grow at their quickest during the summer months and should be mowed to a suitable height for each type.

The different types of grass should be kept to the height that’s suitable for every individual grass type.

With this in mind, you should cut warm-season grass slightly shorter in the springtime as this will get rid of any dead grass.

The warm-season grasses that should be kept at between 0.5 inches to 3 inches are:

The warm-season grasses that should be kept at between 1.5 inches to 4 inches are:

  • Bahia Grass: 2.5 inches to 4 inches.
  • Buffalo Grass: 1.5 inches to 4 inches.

Cool Season Grasses

As the opposite of warm-season grasses, cool-season grasses grow faster during the cool spring and fall weather.

You should cut the grass to the height that’s suitable for the grass type.

When doing your last fall cut, you should cut cool-season grass types shorter if living in an area that’s prone to snow. This will prevent any snow mold from occurring during the winter months.

All grass types should be allowed to grow slightly taller (over 2 inches) in the hot summer months.

This will help to protect the soil and the grass roots from the summer droughts.

The cool-season grasses that should be kept at between 0.75 inches to 3.5 inches are:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass: 2 inches to 3.5 inches.
  • Perennial Ryegrass:  0.75 inches to 2.5 inches.

The cool-season grasses that should be kept at between 1.5 inches to 4 inches tall are:

  • Fine fescue: 1.5 inches to 4 inches.
  • Tall fescue: 1.5 inches to 4 inches.

What Ideal Heights Should Grass Be Cut in the Summer?

Most people know how to mow a lawn, but do you know how tall or short the lawn should be cut to?

As we’ve discussed, different types of grasses should be cut to different heights. This will make sure that you get the most out of them and have them looking their best at all times.

During the summer months, it’s recommended to keep the grass height slightly taller than the rest of the year.

As the temperature rises, so should the height of the grass in your yard.

The taller grass prevents the soil underneath from becoming infested by quick-growing weeds, such as crabgrass.

The soil is shaded from the sun, so the weeds will find it challenging to grow.

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The shade will also protect the soil and the roots of the long grass from the hot sun. Left open to this, the grass will burn, and the roots will die.

The taller grass will retain water at the roots, keeping your grass in good condition, even during the hottest months.

You should aim to have your lawn mower deck raised around half an inch or one inch when mowing in the summer months.

If you normally have it at 2.5 inches to 3 inches, you should increase this to 3 inches to 3.5 inches during summer.

How Short To Cut Grass in Spring

The first spring cut of your overgrown lawn may be a difficult one.

You will have the remnants of winter, and the lawn may be wetter than is ideal for a first cut. However, this is an important time to cut your lawn and will give you a great platform for the spring and summer ahead.

Your first spring cut should test the area and should be kept quite tall. This will ease your lawn into the new season and get it prepped.

If you find any bare patches, this is the ideal time to add some grass seed to your lawn. The area should be covered with a turf repair product and watered every day until the grass starts to grow.

After the first cut and the preparation of your new areas, you can then cut the lawn slightly shorter.

By cutting it shorter in spring, you will be able to get rid of any grass that has been affected by the winter weather and got winter burn or has just died due to the change in seasons.

Make sure to pick up any grass cuttings that may be left on the lawn. These will smother the lawn and cause damage to it.

Spring is the ideal time to start your lawn care routine and get it in it’s optimal condition.

How you prepare your lawn in spring will set the tone for the rest of the year. By looking after it in the best way at the start of spring, your grass will give you a lovely lush lawn throughout the summer months.

Final Thoughts

When you’re faced with what looks like a jungle, you may think that you’ll never get your lawn back to the way it was.

Your initial reaction may be to contact one of the many lawn care companies out there.

There’s no need to shell out your hard-earned cash if you have the time, though, as you can do this yourself.

You should first consider how tall the long grass is. If it’s over 6 inches, you will need to cut it down with a weed wacker or weed eater on the lawn.

Once you’ve done this, your lawn is ready for its first cut with the mower.

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Take it slow when cutting the lawn, and this will give you the best results.

You don’t want to rush it and be left with a ragged lawn that doesn’t look pretty or healthy. Rushing may also damage the mower, which is the last thing that you want.

By looking after your overgrown lawn, you will get to enjoy it and show it off to others.

There’s nothing nicer than sitting relaxing with a drink admiring your healthy, lush green lawn with friends and family.