Lawn height for winter?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by 1striper1, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. 1striper1

    1striper1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    I'm curious about what the pro's think and do. We live in northwestern Wisconsin (USDA zone 3B-4A) and have the typical turf grass for this part of the country. 60% bluegrass, 25% fescue and 15% perennial ryegrass.

    For the last mowing of the year before the snow flies, I've been trying to keep the height at about 1.75" Starting in August I gradually take the lawn down from 3.5" (mid-summer height) to the final 1.75", then in spring, I gradually increase the height. I fertilize 3-4 times per year depending how hot and dry the summer is.

    Your thoughts on the final winter height.
     
  2. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    You are going to get a million different opinions on this, but I’m going to assume you are lowering your cut for good reasons that you have not explained to us in the fall. It would be my opinion that you should let the grass grow to the height you want to keep it for the summer before you mow in the spring.

    I recommend that you do some research of university information and decide what you want to do.
     
  3. Mr Efficiency

    Mr Efficiency LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 731


    I use to mow all the time lower in Spring, summer and fall till this year.
    I am keeping Hight up untill just before the first snow. Leaves are a little more difficult to blow but I am convinced after my year long test on my own lawn that High mowing height is much better for the health of the turf and the environment.
    I will be doing a detailed post on this Season test results in near future
    I cut Sunday, pict taken yesterday.
    IMG_20171016_165618509_HDR.jpg

    My final cut before snow falls will be around 2" but keeping high to last min so turf Plants can get as much sunlight on long blades and continue to shade out any fall weeds that may want to grow.
     
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  4. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    Just for the record I’m planning to do the same as Mr E this year because I have problems with voles and snow mold. If you don’t have those kinds of problems you are better off not lowering the cut at all. The longer grass will help to prevent winter desiccation.

    I like to encourage people to find out why they are doing things the way are doing them. The universities have all of that information readily available and they have actually studied those things for many years. It’s difficult for any of us to give you all of the answers you may need and we often don’t know all of the particulars of your individual situation, however, we try to help as best as we can.
     
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  5. Mr Efficiency

    Mr Efficiency LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 731

    I do have snow mold issues and reason I will be doing last cut short. I was going to start bringing down height last week but after doing a few lower passes, I almost started tearing up:( . I Just couldn't do it yet and lose the beautiful lush green color by scalping it down.
     
    KerbDMK likes this.
  6. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    Lol, I think you got me a little misty now! I think your advice about the longer blades catching more sunlight this time of year was “spot on” brother.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading about your test results.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
    Mr Efficiency likes this.
  7. River

    River LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Wisconsin
    Messages: 2,189

    I just cut at 3.5-4 just like normal. If i cut it to grass it just gets snow mold. And we get serious snow from lake michigan
     
    Mr Efficiency likes this.
  8. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    Last winter I put down Pillar-G fungicide just before snowfall and it eliminated about 95% of my snow mold problem. I will do that again this year. It’s expensive, about double that of fertilization. I have a big lawn so I just used it in the most snow mold prone areas. It worked great and my lawn was much thicker and denser this year than when I haven't used it. I still have the vole problem though and there seems to be a lot of them around again this year, so that is why I’m thinking about going short on the last cut. Some of my neighbors have been complaining to me about how bad the voles have been this summer, but they refuse to trap or bait them, so I didn’t offer to tell them why I've been keeping my lawn shorter this year. Does that make me a bad person?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  9. 1striper1

    1striper1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    Sorry I didn't reply sooner to all the comments here. Why do I cut it shorter for the winter? The 2X I tried to leave it longer than 2.5 inches I had mice tracks everywhere that showed up once the snow melted. Leaving it shorter for the winter eliminated the mice tracks.

    When I leave it shorter I have zero snow mold problems.

    The reason I step the height down and step it back up (think bell curve) is I'm following the "never cut more than 1/3 of the blade off" rule.

    I too have voles but I have 3 spike trips and they work REALLY well! Another tip I recently heard is to drop pieces of Juicy Fruit gum into their tunnel. They eat the gum but can't digest it. It kills them. This advice came from a respected local landscape and guy maintenance guy. Voles have been a big problem in our area for the past couple years.
     
    Mr Efficiency and KerbDMK like this.
  10. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    You can probably take the height of the grass down either way, slowly or all at once just before the ground freezes. The difference in the two may not even be noticeable, but science says the grass needs light in the fall to store food for the spring renewal.

    In the spring you can wait until the grass reaches 4.5 inches tall to mow it down to 3 inches and still be following the 1/3 rule.

    I’m having a little trouble understanding some of your last post though because voles are a type of field mouse that make tunnel like tracks in the grass, but it sounds to me like you are also using spike traps to kill moles that dig tunnels in the soil. I need clarification on what you are using the gum to control, voles or moles?
     

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