Cutting the grass after wintertime

Gregg Eyestone

By A Contributor

It only makes sense that if the vegetable garden needs attention, so will the lawn. The first few times, cutting the grass is enjoyable. It signals the end of winter or in this year’s case fall, since winter went on vacation.

The first cutting of the season can be lower than normal. Tall fescue grass is cut between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. That first cutting could be at 2 inches. You just don’t want to damage the crown by cutting too short. This lower level will cut up the brown leaves and make the grass green up.

Bluegrass will tolerate a little lower mowing. The growing season range is 2 to 3 inches for bluegrass. Some lawns, like mine, are a mix of bluegrass and tall fescue. I mow to the strength of the tall fescue. Three inches or higher is what my lawn is kept other than that first cutting.

Warm-season grasses won’t need cut for a while. When they do, they tolerate the shortest cut. Zoysia and Bermuda are mowed at 1 to 2 inches during the growing season. I have an area of buffalo grass which can be kept at 2 to 3 inches.

Using a sharp mower blade is a must. A sharp blade will keep the grass healthy and use less energy. It sounds like gas prices will be high this year. The blade can be filed sharp. Businesses will also sharpen your blade. If you are mowing without hitting sticks, rocks or other nicking items, sharpen the blade after every 10 hours of use to keep it cutting cleanly.

You can save time and money by not bagging. There is a lot of time spent dumping the bag. There is some engine idle time as well. The grass will benefit from leaving the cut organic matter on the lawn. Keep it on the lawn. Clippings left on hard surfaces will pollute stream water as it is carried in storm water.

Keep yourself safe this mowing season. I got myself new safety glasses. The youth that attended the mowing clinic received ear protection. As you work outside this year remember to wear good shoes, sun screen and stay hydrated.

If you would like additional information on a horticulture topic, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and at

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