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How do you measure mowing height?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by americanlawn, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,944

    My land-grant university says: find a flat area of the lawn. Then use a flat surface (like a notebook, etc to get an average), then place a ruler (get down on your knees) at the point of last cut turf blades. More often than not, you will find the grass is being mowed too short.

  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    I put the mower on a flat hard surface, set the blades front to back and measure from the bottom of the front tip to the ground. The mowing height will be a little less than 1/4" over that, to compensate for the grass under the wheels.
  3. Americal Vet

    Americal Vet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    I drop the deck and go, I guess because I've not added a ruler and notebook to my tool list yet. No complaints yet.
  4. lawnman456

    lawnman456 LawnSite Member
    from ct
    Messages: 90

    becasue it says the height on the deck ;)
  5. SproulsLawnCare

    SproulsLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    from IN
    Messages: 365

    I adjust the deck right on (pitch included) so that it cuts the same measurement that the adjustment knob says. Nine of the customers I have complain about too short, usually they want me to cut it shorter than I do. I won't cut any of them under 3" and try to cut all of them at 4". a 1/4" difference at 4" doesn't much matter.
  6. Daddy Joes Lawn Service

    Daddy Joes Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    Yes, but that might not be right from factory it might be off never know if you don't check it once in awhile.
  7. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    The best way to check your bench height of cut (which is what the machine says it is) verse the actual field height of cut is with an optical prism.
    These devices can be acquired from any professional turfgrass agronomic supply source, consist of a mirror and scale and the prism has a 10X magnification to allow you to see the condition of the turf tissue after mowing.
    Now if you do not want to dump about $200 into this prism, simply take a good quality metal tape measure, find a flat spot in your lawn and gently swipe the grass back and forth with your hand - kind of fluff it up.
    Wait about five minutes, and using the tape, place the tape into the turf down to the soil. Then simply check what it says.
    To can effectively set the bench height using the same ruler once the height of cut on the grass is known. Just have a level base to work off of to adjust the machine settings to what the ruler showed as actual field height.
    It's all pretty easy really.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I just go by what the owner's manual says on how to set it for what height, then adjust it as needed.
    To me that's always proven accurate, unless that mower is 15-20 years old and so totally worn out it needs replacing anyhow...
    Even then you can make do, might have to compensate some kind of way...

    Oh man, forget that!
    I want to see those smart university boys come out here and measure my cut height as described, always them college grads ain't never cut a lawn their whole life coming up with this stuff in some cafeteria over calculators and energy drinks :laugh:

    There's no way you'll get an accurate reading much beyond 1/2 of an inch accuracy on turf, if you get that close, most blades of grass don't stand up at a perfectly straight angle, with a 3" setting you'll as likely find 2 -4 inch lengths of grass and wilder, I see 6-8+ inch lengths all the time when stuff just wants to lay down flat. But I do agree, I find on my 60" Z I can cut 1/8" higher than my 48" and the end result is right about the same, something about bigger decks and the contours of the soil, one of the biggest reasons why I never cut below 3" with a bigger deck because in some parts it will cut lower.

    You have to be especially careful on curved sections, such as ditches, it can and will scalp in a heartbeat.
    But I don't measure it with no ruler, I just go by the way it looks.
    You can do it on flat pavement, if you have to, the total height between the macadam and the bottom part of the blade should be equal to what your manual describes as where it is set.

    Some to most manuals can be downloaded, or a chart found online, for those who no longer have theirs.

    Good luck.

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