When establishing a new lawn, timing is one of the most critical elements when it comes to both the date of seeding and aftercare. Once you've passed the hurdles of soil preparation, applying the seed and ensuring even and continuous irrigation, make sure you mow the grass at the appropriate times to enhance lawn establishment. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your lawn project when you're so close to the finish line.
First Mowing: Wait for the Proper Height
Generally, allow the newly seeded grass to grow to the maximum growing height recommended for its species. This can vary widely depending on the species. For example, let tall fescue grow to 4.5 inches before trimming and allow zoysia to grow to 1.5 inches. It may take two months or more before your seeded grass reaches the appropriate heights for the first mowing.
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First Mowing: Wait for Dry Weather
Your newly seeded lawn reacts more sensitively to environmental factors, especially when it undergoes the stress of its first mowing. Avoid giving your lawn its first trim until the top couple of inches of soil have dried from rain or watering. Otherwise, the pressure of the lawn mower's weight will compact the underlying moist dirt and crush the developing roots.
First Mowing: Strategy
When giving the grass its first cut, set your mower blades to a height that's slightly higher--1/4 to 1/3 of an inch--than the maximum mowing height for its species. For example, tall fescue's first mowing should reduce it to just above the recommended height of 3 inches. This helps minimize the stress of that first trim. If you've let your newly seeded grass grow exceptionally tall, keep in mind that grass should never have more than a third of its total length removed in a single cutting.
Second Mowing: Final Height Reduction
Wait three or four days, then give the new grass its follow-up mowing. At this time, lower your mower blades and bring the grass down to its actual recommended mowing height. After this second mowing, start a regular mowing schedule that allows the grass to reach its maximum growing height before being cut down to its recommended mowing height.
- University of California Integrated Pest Management; Weed Management in Lawns; M. LeStrange and C. Reynolds; January 2004
- University of California Integrated Pest Management: Mowing New Lawns
- University of Illinois Extension: Mowing a New Lawn
- University of California Integrated Pest Management: Recommended Cutting Height for Grass Species