Did you know that how you mow your lawn before winter can play a big part in the overall health and beauty of your yard next year?
Although lawns head quickly into dormancy after the first few hard frosts or freeze, they can still sustain damage after they stop growing. Especially if they haven’t been properly prepared for winter with a lower cut.
Overly tall and thick lawns are a prime target for mold, fungus and other and turf diseases. In addition, they can also become a refuge for insects and pests to overwinter.
But believe it or not, by simply mowing a little bit lower before fall, you can help fend off all of the above. And in the process, set the stage for a better lawn next spring as well.
How To Mow Your Lawn Before Winter
A good mowing height for spring and summer lawns is somewhere between 3-1/2″ to 4″ inches tall. This allows the turf enough height to provide shade to the soil and roots below.
And that shade is key to conserving moisture in the soil, which in turn helps keep lawns green and healthy. Mowing a bit higher during the warmer months also helps keep weed seeds from finding a home in bare soil.
So why not keep that mowing height for your lawn through the winter?
As winter approaches, the advantages to taller turf begin to diminish. Instead of conserving moisture, the tall blades become a hiding place for pests looking to overwinter.
But even more, that tall cover of turf never allows the grass to dry out completely. Especially in the damp, cool conditions that autumn provides. And that dampness is a haven for mold and turf fungus to develop.
Final Cutting Height
So what is the ideal height to mow your lawn before winter? Although tall turf can cause serious issues, scalping a lawn can certainly cause problems as well.
Mowing a lawn too close to the ground can leave roots vulnerable to freezing out. It can also leave soil overly exposed to weed seeds blowing in and taking root.
With that said, the ideal winter height for a lawn should be close to 2-1/2″ in height. This allows enough turf to still protect roots through winter, without leaving too much top cut to invite problems.
Additional Fall Lawn Issues
In addition to a lower mowing height, it is critical for a lawn’s winter health to keep leaves from piling on top of it. Leaves that pile too deeply on the surface can quickly suffocate grass and the roots below.
The result is a spotty spring lawn with plenty of bare spots where the turf has been killed off. Much like the tall turf in the fall, a heavy coat of leaves can keep moisture present, and the threat of mold and fungus developing high.
And Before You Put That Lawn Mower Away For Winter…
As a final tip, before you put that mower away for the season, now is the time to get it ready for spring! (See: Preparing Lawn & Garden Equipment For Winter)
Take time this fall to clean the deck, sharpen the blades, and grease any fittings. In addition, be sure to either run your mower out of fuel, or add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from going bad over winter.
Just like your lawn, your mower can benefit greatly from a little fall care. Without it, it might not be ready to go come spring, leaving you and your lawn unprepared for the season ahead.
Here is to mowing your lawn a bit lower before winter, and to a better lawn next year!
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