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When to Stop Mowing Before Winter Full Guide of 2023

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cut grass short before winterLeaves cover your driveway and a chill fills the air—it’s fall. Almost time to store the lawn mower away for winter. But before you do, trim your grass one last time. Cut it to around 2.5 inches, the lowest it has been all year.

Shorter blades help grass stay healthy under frost and snow. If you leave it too long, matted grass could suffocate come spring.

Monitor weather reports for your area’s average first frost date. Stop mowing once daytime highs linger below 50°F to avoid damaging frozen blades. Then you can relax through winter, knowing your lawn will thrive after the thaw.

Key Takeaways

  • Lower cool-season grass to 1-2 inches before frost.
  • Raise warm-season grass 0.25-0.5 inches once temperatures drop below 70F.
  • Cut grass to 2-2.5 inches before winter.
  • Adjust mowing height based on grass type and temperature.

Why Cut Grass Short Before Winter?

Why Cut Grass Short Before Winter
You need to take steps to get your lawn ready before winter sets in. Cutting your grass shorter in the fall provides multiple benefits for a healthier winter lawn, such as reducing snow mold risk and leaving less debris.

However, cutting too short or neglecting to cut before the first frost can also negatively impact your lawn.

Benefits of Cutting Grass Short Before Winter

Lowering the grass gradually to around 2 inches as the frost season approaches keeps your lawn healthy and problem-free all winter long. For cool-season grasses, lowering your mower blade in increments before the winter mowing height hits about 2 inches reduces the likelihood of winter injury.

Keeping your turf on the shorter side during the dormant winter months discourages pesky issues like snow mold while allowing sunlight to reach the crown. Careful prep ensures your lawn mower stays tucked away all winter while your grass stays primed for a vigorous spring green-up.

Risks of Cutting Grass Too Short or Too Long

You’d be starting down a thorny path of woe if trimming the lawn too low before Jack Frost comes creeping.

  • Cutting below 2 inches risks shocking the grass.
  • Leaving blades too tall invites snow mold.
  • Finding the sweet spot takes some art.
  • Mind the health over neatness of look.
  • Gauge seasonal needs for proper winter care.

With the right prep, your lawn will rest easy through winter’s chill. Focus on its needs, not just aesthetics.

When to Cut Grass Before Winter?

When to Cut Grass Before Winter
You’ll want to closely monitor weather forecasts as fall approaches to determine the average first frost date for your area. With this date in mind, you can time your final grass cut of the season, gradually lowering the blade over the weeks leading up to winter.

Getting the grass down to an optimal height of about 2 inches before expected frosts will prep your lawn for cold temperatures and set it up for healthy growth next spring.

Monitoring Weather for First Frost Date

Monitor the weather forecasts to time your final lawn mowings before the first frost hits. Knowing the earliest fall frost date for your region helps gauge when daytime air temperatures will stay below 50F.

Evening temperatures dropping near freezing indicate the likelihood of snow mold. It’s a good idea to mow last right before the first frost is expected, then put away the mower until spring growth resumes.

Continuing to mow once cold weather arrives can damage frozen grass and increase problems like snow mold.

Timing the Final Mow Before Winter

Work backward from the first frost date to properly time those final mows before winter, won’t ya?

  • For cool-season lawns like tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass, gradually lower the blade to 1-2 inches over the last few mows before winter.
  • Mow for the final time 7-10 days prior to the average first frost date in your area.
  • Make the last pass with the mower set at the lowest recommended winter cut height.
  • Hybrid bermudagrass benefits from a slightly taller last cut around 1.5-2 inches.
  • Avoid mowing once nighttime temperatures remain below 40-50°F to prevent shocking the grass.

How to Prepare for the First Frost Date?

How to Prepare for the First Frost Date
As the last mows of the season approach, you’ll want to start lowering your mower blade height progressively down to about 2 inches. This helps the grass prepare for colder weather while reducing disease risk, debris, and chances of snow mold.

Once temperatures consistently drop below 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s best to stop mowing altogether to avoid shocking and damaging the grass until next spring.

Lowering Mower Blade Height Progressively

You’ll want to gradually lower your mower blade height as the temperature drops, making small cuts each time until you reach about 2 inches before the first frost. During the fall months, incrementally reduce the leaf area with each mow to lessen the likelihood of winter injury.

Make your final cut higher to allow photosynthesis while avoiding exposing the crowns. Aim for a two-inch height with your last pass of the season. This higher cut minimizes the chance of snow mold without shocking the grass.

Stopping Mowing Once Temperatures Drop Below 40-50F

So you’ll stop mowing once the temperatures drop below 40-50°F to avoid shocking the grass. As Michigan State University experts advise, once temperatures fall into the 40s Fahrenheit range, it’s time to put the mower away.

The grass plant cells are vulnerable to damage when mowed at colder temperatures. Leaf tissue can’t handle the stress of cutting below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the lawn to harden off for winter dormancy by avoiding mowing when it’s too cold out.

How to Cut Grass Short for Winter?

How to Cut Grass Short for Winter
When preparing your lawn for winter, it’s crucial to cut the grass short only when the turf is dry and temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid mowing on frozen grass at all costs, as doing so can severely damage the health of your lawn.

Wait for a warmer day when frost has completely melted before taking the mower out again, and even then, be sure to remove no more than one-third of the blade length.

Ensuring Dry and Above 40F Temperatures

Monitor those temps, friend. Skip mowing once the mercury dips under 40, lest you shock your lawn. Keep a weather eye on the forecast before heading out with your mower in late fall.

A beautiful green lawn awaits next spring if you give it the care it needs before colder weather settles in. Maintaining the ideal grass height for the changing seasons is key to a healthy, thriving lawn all year long.

With the right prep now, your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood when warmer weather returns.

Avoiding Mowing on Frozen Grass

Don’t mow the lawn when it’s frosted over, bud. Walking on frozen turf damages grass blades. Lawn care tips from turf scientists say frost visibly injures the lawn. Wait for warmer weather when frost has melted before mowing, even if it’s just a quick trim.

Healthy lawns need tender loving care, so go the long way around icy patches. Remember, taller grass insulates the crown better than clipped.

Continuing to Mow in the Fall

Continuing to Mow in the Fall
As autumn approaches, you’ll want to stay on top of mowing during the growing season. Gradually adjust your mower height based on the type of grass you have and dropping temperatures – lower cool-season grass to 1-2 inches before the first frost date hits and raise warm-season grass by 0.

25-0.5 inches once it drops below 70F. Proper mowing height this time of year keeps your lawn healthy through the winter months ahead.

Mowing During the Growing Season

You’ll want to keep mowing during the growing season, removing no more than one-third of the blade length per mow to avoid stressing the grass. Interesting fact – warm-season grasses benefit from a slightly higher cut of 0.25-0.

5 inches once temperatures drop below 70F to allow for more photosynthesis and reduce winter injury. The slightly taller blades of grass allow for more cold weather photosynthesis, reducing the risk of winter damage in warm-season turfgrasses.

Follow the seasonal height recommendations to prep your lawn, whether cool-season or warm-season, for winter’s cold temperatures and potential snow.

Adjusting Mowing Height Based on Grass Type and Temperature

Lower the cool-season grass blade height little by little as the temps cool, keeping them around 1-2 inches before the first frost hits.

  • For hybrid Bermuda and warm-season grasses, growth slows below 70F. Gradually raise cutting height by 0.
  • The extra inches in total allow more photosynthesis, reducing winter injury in warm-season lawns.
  • Cool-season grasses do better when mowed shorter to prevent issues like snow mold. Warm-season grass benefits from a slightly taller cut to store energy through winter dormancy.

Managing Fall Leaves

Managing Fall Leaves
You’ll want to mulch fall leaves into your lawn with frequent mowing when leaf coverage is less than 50 percent. Mowing over leaves multiple times will chop them finely so they break down into the grass, fertilizing the lawn.

When more than 6 inches of total leaves accumulate, you’ll need to bag the excess and put them to use as free compost or mulch for garden beds. Mulching leaves into the turf is easier than raking and helps build a healthier lawn over time.

Mulching Leaves Into the Lawn

Listen, friend, mulching leaves nourishes the lawn when done right. Mow over leaves often with a sharp mulching mower blade, at least twice per week. Walking on frozen grass damages it; wait for temperatures above 40F. Aim to mulch leaves into the turf before they reach 50% coverage.

Frequent mowing keeps control and chops leaves into natural fertilizer. Excess can smother grass; bag amounts over 6 total inches. Properly mulched leaves don’t cause thatch buildup or turf damage. Keep mowing this fall until just before the first frost for a healthy winter lawn.

Bagging Excess Leaves and Using Them for Compost or Mulch

A wise gardener saves excess leaf bags to fertilize future growth. Bagging chopped leaves in excess of the lawn’s mulching capacity provides free fertilizer and mulch for other areas. Spread two to three inches in garden beds or around trees and shrubs. The small pieces break down quickly, improving soil nutrition.

Leaves are high in potassium and calcium, nutrients plants need. Work the annual free fertilizer into beds in fall or use for mulch. Chopped leaves also make excellent compost material when mixed with nitrogen sources like food scraps or manure.

Don’t send valuable organic matter to the landfill. Put those leaf bags to work enriching your soil.

Last Cut Before Winter: How Low Should You Mow?

Last Cut Before Winter: How Low Should You Mow
Check the first frost date and adjust your mower height down little by little before then.

Here are 5 tips for the last cut before winter:

  • Lower mower blades gradually to 2 inches before expected first frost. Going too short at once could shock the grass.
  • Mow more frequently as temperatures drop, removing no more than 1/3 of the blade height per cut.
  • For cool-season grasses, mow when the grass is dry and temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Finish the last mow of the season at least 1 week before the first frost date. This allows time to harden off.
  • After the final mow, thoroughly clean the mowing deck. Don’t mow again until next growing season.

The ideal pre-winter height balances minimized likelihood of winter injury with needs for light and air. Adjust down carefully over the entire lawn as the growing season winds down. With proper fall preparation, your lawn will green up quickly in spring.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of lawn mower is best for cutting grass short before winter?

The rotary mower gives an even cut to shorten grass before winter. Mowing every 5-7 days in the fall keeps your lawn around 2 inches – the optimal length to prevent snow mold. Keep the blades sharp and mow when the grass is dry for a healthy, green lawn all season long.

How can I tell if my grass blades are damaged from mowing on frozen turf?

You would notice damaged, ragged grass blades if you mowed on frozen turf. Inspect closely – healthy blades are smooth-edged. Damaged ones look rough, torn, or frayed. Best practice: avoid mowing once temperatures drop below 50°F to prevent harming your lawn.

Is it okay to use a leaf blower instead of mulching leaves into the lawn?

You can, but mulching leaves into the lawn is better. Mulched leaves fertilize grass, reducing weeds and thatch buildup over time. Leaf blowers just move leaves around. For optimal lawn health, mow up leaves when there is less than 50% coverage, mulching them into the turf.

How do I know when it’s the last time I should mow before winter?

Monitor the weather forecasts in your area to determine when the first frost of the season is expected. Stop mowing when nighttime temperatures stay below 40-50°F to avoid shocking the grass. Make your last mow before that first frost date, gradually lowering the blade height to about 2 inches.

Are there any lawn care services that will cut my grass short before winter for me?

Yes, absolutely! Many lawn care companies offer fall cleanup services that include cutting the grass shorter before winter hits. Simply search for fall lawn cleanup, and you’ll find local professionals who can take care of the final lawn mowing and winter prep for you.

They know the proper heights and timing to get your lawn ready for cold temperatures and snow.


So there you have it – by cutting your grass short before winter, you can set your lawn up for success when the cold weather hits. Aim to get down to about 2 inches right before that first frost date, but be careful not to go too low or you risk damaging the grass.

It’s a fine balance, but it pays off with a thicker, healthier lawn come spring. Just remember to keep a close eye on the weather, put away the mower once it’s too cold, and you’ll be sitting pretty with a lush lawn when warmer days return.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.