How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn? The REAL Answer(s)


Let’s face it – unless you’re a lawn-care professional, nobody likes mowing the lawn.

There’s a reason the kids complain when you ask them to do it.

It’s a dull, repetitive, effort that takes a lot of time – depending on the size of your yard, of course.

Still, it needs to be done, and if you get it down to a fine art – it might not seem so bad. You might even start to look forward to it.

The trick is to know when.

How often should you mow your lawn? Let’s take a look at the REAL answer(s).

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When to Mow the Lawn – Too Long, Didn’t Read

Time is money, and it seems we’re always so short on both.

While I can’t shake the magic money tree for you, I can save you a few moments if you’re in a rush and don’t want to read the whole article.

The truth is – there’s no easy answer.

It depends on the season, the conditions, the type of grass you have, and if you’re using fertilizer or not.

But if you don’t really care about the lawn art form, and you simply want to know when to give it a trim, then I would recommend at least once per week during the growing season for your grass type.

gardener mows the lawn with trimmer near to lawn mower tractor

Why Mow the Lawn?

Without going into too much detail, there are numerous advantages to mowing your lawn.

The first is pretty obvious – it’ll stop your yard from looking like a jungle.

A year or so ago, we went on vacation for a few days in the summer, shortly after we purchased our new home. When we returned, both front and back lawns were near waist high with grass and weeds.

Imagine what our new neighbors must have thought!

Aside from the aesthetic benefits, mowing your lawn keeps the grass healthy, allows water, air, sunlight, and nutrients into the soil, fends off pests and unwanted insects, and helps prevent and control weeds.

It will also keep you in line with local ordinances and the law, as most neighborhoods have regulations about property upkeep that need to be adhered to.

Mowing Problems

Many homeowners lead busy lives, and they don’t have the time or the will to make mowing the grass a priority.

While I totally get that, don’t be surprised if simply scalping your lawn as short as your mower deck can go will lead to a poor lawn aesthetic.

Sure, it affords you more time between the work, but you will encourage poor lawn health and conditioning as a result.

Expect patches of yellow, discolored grass, and bald spots; and you might as well throw the doors wide open for weed and pest infestation while you’re at it.

The same can be said for mowing too often – which won’t give grass the chance to flourish and crowd out undesirable growth.

lawn with a yellow zero-turn lawn mower

Grass Types

Now, let’s delve into the question in much more detail, by exploring the suggested cutting heights of different types of grass.

Remember, just because it’s green and covers most yards and gardens of the world, doesn’t mean it’s all the same stuff.

Once you’ve discovered what type of grass your property is rocking, take a look at this guide, so you know what height to set your mower deck:

Cool Season

  • Kentucky Bluegrass – 2-2.5 inches
  • Fine Fescue – 1.5-3 inches
  • Tall Fescue – 2-3 inches
  • Perennial Ryegrass – 1.5-2.5 inches

Warm Season

  • Bermudagrass – 0.5-2.5 inches
  • Zoysia – 1-1.5 inches
  • St. Augustine – 1-4 inches
  • Centipede – 1.5-3 inches

You don’t need to go around with a measuring tape (if you don’t want to), but that’s a rough guide to grass cutting heights.

Of course, what it doesn’t tell you – is how long you should let the grass grow before cutting.

Stay with me.

The “One-Third” Rule

Here’s a little trick that all lawn-care professionals and landscapers will tell you.

Never cut more than one-third of the grass height during any single mowing.

So, using the above “ideal height” guide, you can get a rough idea as to when you should be mowing that type of grass in order for it to look its best.

All it takes is a bit of simple math.

If you seriously want your lawn to look in tip-top condition, never make the mistake of scalping it just because you want longer times between mows.

Your dream lawn is only going to come with a bit of hard work, dedication and patience. Check this article for more handy lawnmowing tips and tricks in order to help you achieve that.

electric lawn mower on yard view from top

Seasonal Mowing Schedules

How often you should cut your grass depends as much on the season and the weather as it does on the specific type of grass. Different grasses grow at different rates and at different times of the year – depending on the conditions.

Adding fertilizer can make a significant difference, too.

First, you should check out this article on how to kick-start your lawn after winter. That will show you how to give your lawn the best possible chance of being healthy through the summer months.

Cool season grasses have growth spurts in the spring and the fall. This is when you’ll need to be on top of your mowing game, and getting the machine out 1-3 times a week to maintain the “one-third” rule.

Warm season grasses will boost all through the summer, so you’re going to be at your busiest May through September.

Again, 1-3 times a week will be your sweet spot when the grass is at its liveliest.

Remember, you should mow depending on how tall the grass is, and not when the grass was last cut, or a day-of-the-week you have set in stone on your schedule.

Weather, Watering, and Fertilizer

As mentioned, your grass can grow faster or slower depending on the conditions – particularly how much sun and water it’s getting.

But if you plan on using fertilizer, that is highly likely to give your lawn a kick up the root system, too.

As such, you should pay attention to the conditions, and if you’re using nutrient boosters to improve grass health and growth.

Also take into consideration how much you’re going to be watering the grass yourself with an irrigation system, or if you’re just letting Mother Nature do her thing.

All this will impact how fast your grass grows – and then in turn – how often you should mow your lawn.

Head on over to this article for more tips and advice on how best to water your lawn.

automatic sprinkles watering plants in the garden

New Grass/Overseeding

Things get a bit trickier when you introduce new grass seed to an existing lawn, or you’re covering up bare spots around your turf.

You can’t mow over that in the same way you would with established grass. A bit of extra care needs to be taken.

The general rule of thumb for mowing new grass is to wait until it’s at least two-inches in height. Give seeds time to germinate – which can take up to 21 days for some species, such as Kentucky Bluegrass.

Don’t be too eager with your mowing schedule when attempting to encourage new growth.

Give it a chance to settle in, and only trim established grass, until such times as it can all be cut to a uniform height.

Using the Right Lawnmower

They say a bad workman blames his tools, but if he’s not using the right tool, then it’s still all his fault.

Choosing the right lawnmower for your lawn is an important step for its overall health and care, and can seriously make a difference when it comes to how often and how much you’re mowing.

Take a look at this article if you have a smaller yard or garden, and you’re looking for a more compact mower.

If you have tricky terrain in a larger plot, you might want to try one of these riding lawn mowers instead.

For particularly large gardens (aka – huge) I would suggest a zero turn mower is the best chance you have of timely mowing success.

But if they are a little outside your budget at the moment, then perhaps this article on the best cheap lawnmowers will offer some practical and affordable solutions.

Suit the tool to the job, and all will be well. Said Shakespeare – the famous English playwright and lawn-care expert.

mowing the grass with riding lawn mower

Some Final Tips

At the end of the day, when you choose to mow your lawn is entirely up to you, and you should do whatever fits with your schedule and needs.

But just taking a bit of care, you can still have a healthy and happy lawn that fits in with your lifestyle.

Always make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp. Dull blades can damage your grass, as well as double the time it takes to cut.

Check out this article on the best lawn mower blade sharpeners – which I’d encourage you to use rather than being wasteful with early and unnecessary replacements.

There are some quality options in that link that can seriously prolong the life of all your edged tools, and save you a lot of money in the long run.

But if you do need a new blade – due to irreparable damage or wear, check out this article on the best lawn mower blades on the market.

Always mow your lawn when the grass is dry, but read this article on how to mow wet grass if you absolutely can’t avoid it.

And don’t rush. I know you need to get it done before your favorite program is on, but good things come to those who wait.

Take your time, enjoy being outside, and give your lawn the attention and care it deserves. I promise you’ll reap the rewards come barbecue season.

Lawn mower on green grass

FAQs

How often should I mow my lawn?

It depends on the type of grass, the season, the weather, and if you’re using fertilizer or lawn feed.

It’s not as simple as saying “once per week,” but when push comes to shove, once per week will probably cut it.

Pun fully intended.

When’s the best time to mow the lawn?

Good question.

For morning mows, the best time to mow a lawn is after the morning dew has evaporated, and the grass has had a chance to dry out a bit.

Sometime between 8-10 AM is ideal. This is considered the absolute best time to mow by most lawn-care professionals.

In the afternoon, between 4-6 PM is also recommended, as the heat of the day has dissipated, and it will cause less stress to your grass, ensuring it has time to recover before nightfall.

What type of lawnmower do I need for my lawn?

I would need to see your lawn to know the answer to this question, and unless you want to invite me over to your house (I’ll take a tea with milk and no sugar), then I’ll offer the next best thing.

Head over to read this general piece on the different types of lawnmowers – to help you decide which one is right for your space.

How do I mow the lawn?

I could literally write an entire blog on lawn mowing techniques, but to save us all time and money, watch the informative video below from lawn guru Ryan Knorr.

Does frequently mowing thicken grass?

Yes – with a caveat. Never over mow your lawn.

There’s a balance to be had, and while mowing frequently encourages a strong root system and subsequent thicker lawn, too much can have a negative impact.

Can I mow my lawn twice a week?

Providing your lawn is in its growing season (see the guide above for grass types and when they sprout) then mowing twice a week should be fine.

Just remember the golden rule of never cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time, while maintaining the optimum height for your particular species of grass.

Can I mow my lawn once a month?

You can, but on your head be it if you get some raised eyebrows from the neighbors.

Depending on the time of year, the type of grass, the weather and conditions, and if you’re using fertilizer (which I assume you’re not if you’re only wanting to mow once a month) grass can grow anywhere between two and six inches in a week.

Imagine how tall that could potentially be if you’re mowing once a month in peak growing season!

Of course, you can feel free to take your foot off the gas when the grass slows down, and once a month (if at all) should be fine in the off-season.

But to avoid an unsightly, overgrown yard that can encourage weeds and pests, I’d say more than once a month is recommended.

What happens if I don’t mow my lawn?

JUMANJI!

Seriously though, you’re looking at a wilderness that is going to attract all kinds of problems, from insects and pests, to weeds, and other undesirable growth – such as fungi.

Even more serious – is the potential to be fined – depending on where you live. Most neighborhoods will have laws in place so that homeowners are legally obliged to satisfactorily maintain their properties.

If you neglect to adequately upkeep your lawn, you might expect a knock on the door. In some extreme cases, this might even result in jail time – or even losing your house.

So, if you don’t want this to happen, I would suggest biting the bullet and getting out there to give the green a trim every now and again.

Or, rip the whole thing up and install vegetable patches and wildflower gardens in its place. And if you choose such an endeavor – I wish you all the luck in the world. #lesslawnmorelife.

Summary

The question of how often should you mow your lawn is a deceptive one, as it can seriously vary depending on a number of factors.

But of course, if you don’t possess green thumbs, you can get away with once-a-week in the growing season.

I hope you’ve found this article entertaining and informative. If you have any tips on when to mow lawns, or any practical lawn advice you’d like to share with the community – drop me a comment.

Stay safe out there – and happy mowing!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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