If you're wondering why your lawn doesn't look quite right, it could be due to the lawn mower blade being set at the wrong height. When the height is too low, the lawn can look bald because the grass stops thriving. Having the perfect height takes the tips off the blades and encourages the grass to fill in thicker.
Appropriate Height for Lawn Mower Blades
Many homeowners cut their grass as short as possible so they can spread out the time between mowing. This is not recommended because a lawn "buzz cut" makes it more difficult for grass to retain moisture, which leads to brown, bald lawns. Grass that is too short also makes it easier for weeds to take over.
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The right lawn height depends on the type of grass, its growth patterns and the time of year. Different kinds of the same grass variety can actually require varying mowing heights; some can be 2 inches or more. There are apps like Purdue University's Turf Doctor that can help you identify the type of grass you have. If you have concerns about the soil, there are apps for that as well, such as the University of California, Davis' SoilWeb. You can also take some blades over to your local garden or home center for help with grass identification and recommendations.
If you are still unsure about the proper height, start around the middle mower blade setting and go from there. Keep an eye on your lawn over the course of a month and if it looks right, the height is where it should be. Otherwise, adjust the blades up or down as needed.
Lowering Lawn Mower Blades
If you have a push mower, look for one main lever or latches that are on each of the two wheels. You should also see some notches that correspond to the height increments, usually at 1/2 inch. Adjust each latch to the same height.
Riding mowers usually have their height adjustment levers or knobs on the left side by the seat. Simply pull the lever toward the back or turn the knob counterclockwise. Whenever you are adjusting lawn mower blade height levers, be sure that they lock into position before proceeding. To increase blade height on push and riding mowers, simply move the levers or knobs in the other direction.
More Lawn Mowing Tips
A perfectly mowed lawn takes practice. Many experts agree that grass should not be cut too short. In fact, erring toward a higher grass cut is better. However, you can mow the grass shorter before the last cuts of the winter; keep the height at 1 1/2 to 2 inches, and this will be better for winterizing. Experts also advocate for keeping mower blades quite sharp since dull blades stress grass.
It is never a good idea to mow wet grass. If you were away and the grass is out of control, it is best to cut off part of the length first, wait a few days and then mow once more. Even though you may want to capture the grass clippings in a bag for neatness, it is better for the lawn to leave the clippings where they lie. They release nutrients into your soil and also form a kind of mulch that retains moisture.