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Choosing the Best Lawn Mower Height Setting

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Cutting your lawn at the right mowing height is the single most important thing you can do to keep your lawn healthy. Mowing at the correct height reduces weed problems, contributes to a healthy root system, increases resistance to drought, insects, and diseases, and helps prevent run-off of soil, fertilizers, chemicals, and pollutants.

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When choosing the best lawnmower height setting, the first thing you need to take into account is what type of grass you are growing.

Grass species

Set mower height to
(inches)
Mow at this height
(inches)
Annual ryegrass1 1/2 to 22 1/4 to 3
Perennial ryegrass1 1/2 to 2 1/2 2 1/4 to 3 3/4
Bahia grass1 1/2 to 3 2 1/4 to 4 1/2
Bermuda grass, common1 to 1 1/2 1 1/2 to 2 1/4
Bermuda grass, hybrid1/2 to 13/4 to 1 1/2
Creeping Bentgrass1/2 to 13/4 to 1 1/2
Hard fescue1 1/2 to 2 1/2 2 1/4 to 3 3/4
Kentucky bluegrass1 1/2 to 2 1/2 2 1/4 to 3 3/4
St. Augustine grass1 to 21 1/2 to 3
Tall fescue1 1/2 to 32 1/4 to 4 1/2
Zoysiagrass1/2 to 13/4 to 1 1/2
Buffalo grass1 to 21 1/2 to 3

Grass species have a range of recommended mowing heights, and the chart above is only meant to be a guideline. Lawn experts recommend staying toward the upper end of the ranges given-especially during stressful conditions such as hot weather or drought, or if your lawn is growing in the shade. In cooler weather and under ideal conditions, you can afford to cut the grass a little lower. If you are unsure what type of grass species you have growing, cutting it at a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches will work for the majority of grass varieties.

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Follow the 1/3 Rule

For a healthy lawn, never cut more than one-third of the grass blade during any one mowing session. If your lawn grows too long, due to wet weather or a busy schedule, increase the cutting height of your mower to the highest possible setting before you mow. Then move the cutting height back to your normal range and cut the lawn again four or five days later.

If you stick to the 1/3 rule, you should never have to worry about bagging the clippings, because the grass clippings will always be short enough to filter down to the soil's surface to decompose and recycle nutrients back into your lawn.

Adjusting the Mowing Height

Mowing your lawn at the correct height keeps the growth thick and vigorous, and reduces the growth of broad-leafed weeds-according to some studies, by as much as 50 to 80%. To set the mowing height on a rotary lawn mower, adjust the blade height levers at each of the lawnmower's wheels. Place the mower on a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk and push each lever to the setting recommended above.

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If height settings are not indicated on your lawn mower, test the adjustment by mowing a small area of grass, then use a ruler to measure from the soil to the tip of the blade. Remember to only mow when it's dry and to keep the lawnmower's blades sharp.

Lawn Mower cutting grass
 

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.

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Anonymous
May 26, 20170 found this helpful

choosing the height is not easy...am i suppose to take out a measuring stick to see the length???

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June 12, 20170 found this helpful

Yes you should

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June 16, 20170 found this helpful

I'ld like to know the answer also!

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February 24, 20180 found this helpful

Cut it short so you mow it once o month

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Anonymous
May 18, 20180 found this helpful

I bet your yard is the envy of the neighborhood.

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June 1, 20180 found this helpful

I'd never cut my grass as low as 2". Minimum grass length for me is 3".
Stays greener longer in heat and keeps weeds at bay. Also I don't bag cuttings except when leaf season arrives.

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June 9, 20180 found this helpful

Exactly the correct answer

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May 23, 20210 found this helpful

Good points raised in this piece.

Practice this motto: Cut it high and let it lie, i.e. bagging clippings is largely unnecessary as they shrink to invisibility and help keep the soil cool and fertilized.

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Also, save your self time and money when it comes to fertilizer: do it once a year, in September, perhaps in conjunction with overseeding. The reason is that fertlilizer applied in the fall stimulates root growth while fertilizer over the growing season stimulates blade growth.

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