Shorter for winter?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by troberts, Sep 27, 2001.

  1. troberts

    troberts LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 45

    I have always heard (perhaps incorrectly) that grass should be cut shorter than normal on the final one or two cuts of the season.

    This prevents the grass from folding over (i.e. laying down) in the winter, or under the weight of snow which prevents "snow mold".

    Example: If normal cutting length for the season is 2.5, then it should be cut back to 2.0 or 2.25 prior to winter.

    Any truth to this?


  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    I cut all of my lawns all season at 3.25-3.5 inches. The last cut of the seaon I take it down to 2.5 inches for a neater winter look and to help aid in leaf remval.
  3. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    If you live in an area where crabgrass and other annual weeds are a problem then you should not cut the grass short. A lot of weed seeds need sunlight to actually strike them in order to germinate. In the springtime weed seeds usually germinate before grass growth begins. The taller the grass, the less likely a weed seed is to germinate.
  4. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,205

    i usually cut low the last time, depending on the lawn between 2 and 2.5 inches.
  5. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,845

    I am also one that cuts about 3" during the summer to keep a nice leaf available for a good root system. Had a guy that was a graduate from a forestry major in college, and his comments to me (he worked for the state of Illinois DOT planting and caring for road side park) were that for every inch of leaf above ground you can have up to 4 times that length in root systems. He also stressed not mowing more that a third off - ie mow at 4 1/2 inches back to 3" otherwise the stem starts to move up the plant and shortens the leaf length. His fertilizer program is pretty simple. Straight nitrogen in the spring and midsummer as that is the growth nutrient, and a good last 2 number combination in the fall as those are the root development #'s and that is what the plant does in the fall. So mow it shorter in the fall, aeriate (wow, how do you spell airate) and put on a 3 numbered fall fertilizer. This program has worked well for me, and in fact my yard hasn't needed dandilion treatment on other that a few along the cement for 10 years as the grass crowds them out.
  6. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    We could help you better if we knew where in IN you are referring to. Can be a big difference in turf management between northern and southern IN. But you can find info on everything at .

    Recommendation there is given in AY-8 for different grasses. For me up here, everything is mowed at 3" in summer, to give more leaf so the grass can make more food (cool season grasses make food very inefficiently in heat) and to shade the ground to inhibit evaporation and weed growth. During spring and fall times of good growth, mowed at 2.5". Heavily wooded sites are dropped to 2" first or second week of Oct, to keep leaves from tangling so much in grass (& let they blow away, LOL). On most lawns, last cut is 2", to limit holding stray leaves during winter and limit snow mold problems.

    When grass is just coming out of dormancy in the spring, mow it short to stimulate growth - it will green up a lot quicker. I mow most at 2" first cut, then up to 2.5".

    One exception is northern zoysia: when it is 25% green, cut it once as low as you can without scalping. I can usually go down to 1.5". sometimes 1". This shortens all the dead blades from last year (they take a long time to decay). Zoysia treated like this will beat everything for looks in Jul & Aug here.
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    I keep mine ratherlong through the winter, too. I will only take it down to 2.5 to 3", and then cut it down low in the spring. When I do this, because of the fert. I put down late in the season, it just greens right up. Like Groundkprs said, the early cut will definitely stimulate the growth, but the fert certainly enhances it. My lawns seem to turn greener MUCH faster than everyone elses on the blocks. ;) Also, Flexdeck had mentioned; "Straight nitrogen in the spring and midsummer as that is the growth nutrient, and a good last 2 number combination in the fall as those are the root development #'s and that is what the plant does in the fall."
    Well, this is close, and it is somewhat the right idea, however, you need a strong K (potash) in the spring to stimulate strong, deep, and dense root growth in the spring. While we DO get root development again in the early fall, (and a good potash count helps here,) we get even MORE of it than that in the spring. The "middle #" or your phosphorus, is basically to help new seed germination. (of course the only seeds that are going to germinate are those from the year before). I hope this helps clarify some of this.;)
  8. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    Yes, you should cut shorter for winter. In the late fall the turf changes its growing paterns. Instead of growing straight up, it tends to grow in a more broad and spread out manner. This means that you can cut it lower and not have to worry about doing any damage so long as you are cutting within the recommended mowing height. Also by cutting lower you are promoting tiller growth which is esential for winter survival of the lawn.
  9. troberts

    troberts LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 45

    Thanks for all the replies.

    Sounds like shorter for winter is a YES.

    O.K., is 2.5 short enough, or should I really go to 2.25 or 2.0?

    I'm in central Indiana (Indianapolis) is that helps.


  10. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Reread Richard Martins post. Cutting short also keeps the grass from being a blanket for your soil and root system. Wait and cut down in the spring.

Share This Page