Does It Hurt to Cut Grass Short?

Cutting grass too short makes it vulnerable to a myriad of problems.
Cutting grass too short makes it vulnerable to a myriad of problems. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

While the idea of very short grass for a tidy appearance may seem like a good idea, it is definitely a case where looks can be deceiving. Cutting grass too low risks its overall health, making it vulnerable to weeds and diseases. Before beginning a cutting regime, know the proper cutting height for your lawn and stick to it.

Improper Mowing Height

Lawns that are cut too low cause damage to the crown root, the source of a turf’s growth. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign points out that the need for herbicides is much less for grass mowed at the proper height, because it is able to stave off invasive weeds. Additionally, lawns grown at the proper height maintain the correct surface area needed to complete photosynthesis, which in turn produces a healthier lawn, according to the website Lazy Homeowner.

How High to Mow

Each lawn species has a different height for proper mowing. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers the following recommendations for some of the more popular turfs grown. Mow zoysia grass at 1 to 1 ½ inches; buffalograss, tall fescue, fine-leaf fescues, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass all at 2 to 3 inches; and creeping bentrass at ¼ to ¾ inch. Follow the one-third rule when mowing: Cut no more than a third of the length of the grass blades.

When to Mow

As a guideline, mow cool-season grasses when they are 3 to 3½ inches high and warm-season grasses when they are 2 to 2½ inches. Remember to mow when the lawn is completely dry or you risk ripping the grass blades, making them vulnerable to pests and diseases.

The Right Equipment

To keep grass cut at the proper height, use the right tools. Use the right type of mower for your specific lawn and space--either a rotary or reel. Make sure to keep the blade sharp at all times so the grass blades cut cleanly.

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