How to Choose the Best Grass Height & Other Winter Lawn Tips (2024)

Is it better to leave your lawn long or short before winter?

Everyone knows a beautiful lawn requires care and attention in the summer – mowing, fertilization and watering. But do you know how to properly maintain your lawn in the winter?

When you use the mower for the last time each fall, do you know what is the best height to keep your grass for winter?

Many factors during the dormant season affect the health and strength of your grass. If you want to keep your turf looking good (and who doesn’t?), you need to know how the right care, the right conditions and the right grass height affect how lush and green your lawn looks when spring rolls around again.

Get ready to learn the answers to: when does grass stop growing, how short to cut grass before winter, how to keep grass green in winter and more!

Does grass grow in the winter?

While some people seem to think the last mow of the season is not until the snow flies, others stop mowing earlier in the fall. When does grass stop growing? Does grass grow in the winter?

Grass in winter actually does grow, if the temperatures are right. In fact, grass will keep growing if the daytime temperatures stay above 55 degrees. In Ohio, depending on the year, that can extend into November or even later.

As fall wears on, the grass slows its growth and, eventually, stops growing altogether. But keep mowing until the grass is dormant. Once it’s truly dormant, and daytime temperatures stop rising above 50 degrees, give your grass a break from cuts, to prepare it for the long winter months.

What is the best grass height for winter?

When you have determined it’s truly the last mow of the season, you need to decide what height to cut your grass. Is it better to leave your lawn long or short before the winter? Is four inches too tall for grass? Is two inches too short?

It’s very important to cut back your grass before winter, in the case of Northern grasses, such as Kentucky Blue Grass, tall fescue and perennial rye grass. These types of grasses, common in Northeast Ohio, shouldn’t be left long during cold, snowy winter months. It’s much better to keep your grass short for winter.

Why is short grass better for winter?

There are many reasons long grass is not the best idea during winter. Long grass provides a meal for insects and small animals, such as voles, who will feed on the grass under snow cover throughout the winter season. This puts your lawn at risk of disease, providing an opportune place for mold and bacteria to take over. You might put your grass at risk for disease, such as snow mold.

Snow mold is caused by excessive water, thatch, debris, and leaves, all of which keep the grass overly wet. The cold and damp then provides a breeding ground for disease. Cutting your grasses back for winter helps avoid contributing to these conditions. (Make sure to also clear out extra leaves and debris before the snow starts to fly.)

How short should you cut grass before winter?

Choosing the right grass height for winter is an important decision. An improper cut can cause stress to the plant. If your cut your grass too short, the cold weather can stress or damage the roots or leaves. If your grass is too long, it’s at risk for disease.

The ideal grass height for winter is between 2 inches and 2.5 inches. This keeps grass short enough to resist disease spread, but not so short that it becomes overly stressed by cold temperatures.

As temperatures decrease and growth slows down, you can gradually reduce the height of your blades when mowing until they reach this optimal length. Make sure the last few lawn trims of the fall season are at this short height.

How to keep grass green in winter

Once you’ve fine-tuned the proper height to cut your grass for winter, you may wonder whether you should fertilize, too. After all, the extreme weather conditions of winter take a toll on your lawn. But since your grass goes dormant when the freezing cold temperatures arrive, it’s best to do your prep before that happens.

This is why fall is the best time to fertilize grass. The plant is actively growing its root system, making it a peak growing season.

Fertilize your lawn in the fall to keeps things green and healthy. A little advance treatment will help your yard maintain its color and vibrancy until growing season begins again in the spring.

The best grass fertilizer for winter

Applying a winter fertilizer in the fall is appropriate for cool-season grasses such as fescue or bluegrass, but warm-season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia do better with just a spring fertilizer. You can put down a winterizer in November for cool-season grasses and pick back up with fertilizing in the spring when temps start to rise again and the root system resumes growth.

Want the best lawn ever?

Proper care, feeding, and cutting of your grass for the winter will ensure you maintain a lush and healthy lawn all year long. For more details on winter lawn care or to sign up for a lawn care package where we do the work for you, contact GrassMaster today.

How to Choose the Best Grass Height & Other Winter Lawn Tips (2024)


How to Choose the Best Grass Height & Other Winter Lawn Tips? ›

If your grass is too long, it's at risk for disease. The ideal grass height for winter is between 2 inches and 2.5 inches. This keeps grass short enough to resist disease spread, but not so short that it becomes overly stressed by cold temperatures.

What is the best height for grass in winter? ›

Best height for cool-season grass in winter
Grass typeIdeal height in inchesMow when the grass reaches this height
Tall fescue2-42.5-5.25
Perennial ryegrass2-32.5-4
Kentucky bluegrass2-32.5-4
Fine fescue1.5-32-4
Nov 21, 2023

What is the best grass cutting height? ›

In the summer, keep both cool-season and warm-season grasses slightly taller. Cut cool-season grasses to 3 or 3 ½ inches. Mow warm-season grasses to 2 or 2 ½ inches. In summer, grass can be kept a bit higher to prevent weeds, help shade the soil line, and maintain water in the soil.

Should I cut my grass shorter before winter? ›

Once you know the anticipated first frost, you can plan to mow the grass a few times before that date. This is the best time to mow the lawn before winter. You should slowly mow the grass by reducing the blade height a little each time until the grass is about 2 inches.

What height should grass be cut in season? ›

Typical cool-season grass height range: 2.5-4 inches. For warm-season grasses, including Zoysiagrass and Bermudagrass, peak growth occurs during summer. Typical warm-season grass height range: 1-3 inches.

Is it better to keep a lawn short or long? ›

Thus, when grass isn't as healthy (for example, in periods of drought), it is better to let grass grow taller and, in doing so, to strengthen the root systems. However, cutting grass too low thins the grass roots and makes it easier for weeds to invade.

What is the best grass to grow in the winter? ›

Recommended Winter Grass Varieties

Several varieties of winter grass are suitable for maintaining a green lawn during the cold months. Some popular choices include winter rye, ryegrass, and winter wheatgrass. These grasses grow vigorously during winter and die off naturally as warmer weather returns.

Should I leave grass clippings on my lawn? ›

As a general rule, grass clippings of an inch or less in length can be left on your lawn where they will filter down to the soil surface and decompose quickly. Remove longer clippings because they can shade or smother grass beneath causing lawn damage. Don't throw out bagged grass clippings as yard waste.

Is 4 inches too tall for grass? ›

For this reason, some people prefer to mow at 3 or 3.5 inches. For the healthiest and most sustainable approach, Michigan State University Extension says 3.5 to 4 inches is most desirable. Lawns mowed at 3.5 or 4 inches out-compete weeds, tolerate grubs and look just as good as lawns mowed at 2.5 inches.

What is the shortest you should cut your grass? ›

Mowing too short or scalping results in stress to the grass plant. Weak grass plants will take longer to recover. To maintain a 3-inch lawn, mow before the grass reaches 4.5 inches tall. Mowing too short can allow weed seeds to get more sun and increase the chance of germination.

When not to cut grass? ›

Never mow wet or frosty grass

This can damage your turf and compact the soil. Wait until later in the day when the lawn has dried out or defrosted, or postpone mowing to another day.

How often should you mow your lawn in winter? ›

The good news is that winter lawn mowing is much less frequent than at peak times of the year. Instead of mowing your lawn once a week like you're used to during the summer, you can cut back to once every 3 to 4 weeks, depending on where you live.

How do I winterize my lawn? ›

Winter Lawn Care Tips
  1. Aerate the grass to let water and nutrients reach the roots better. ...
  2. Overseed with ryegrass, a quick-sprouting and fast-growing grass that stays healthy during winter, adding color to your lawn. ...
  3. Reseed any bare patches or patchy spots of grass to protect the soil underneath.
Jul 25, 2022

What is the best mowing height? ›

As the temperatures start to drop in the fall, your ideal mowing height is mid-length. Cool season grasses should be cut to 3 inches. Increase your mowing height on warm season grasses, leaving them a little long to help protect the plant from winter damage, around 2 ½ – 3 inches.

How high should I let my grass grow? ›

The mowing height range for most grasses is between 1.5 and 3 inches. In general, for most lawns 2 to 2.5 inches is optimum because if you are mowing at 3 inches, your lawn may grow to 5 or 6 inches before you mow it again.

What is the best height to set a lawn mower? ›

Always Mow at 3 Inches or Taller

Often the highest setting on most mower types is 3 inches. Mowing the grass at 3 inches or taller will prevent diseases, promote deep digging roots, help the grass conserve water, improve turf density, and improve turf color.

Is 4 inches to high for grass? ›

The top setting for most mowers gives a cutting height between 3.25 and 4 inches. This is best for your lawn, but at a setting of 4 inches you may sometimes see some “laying-over” of turf blades that some people find undesirable. For this reason, some people prefer to mow at 3 or 3.5 inches.

Should Bermudagrass be long or short for winter? ›

Generally, a Bermudagrass lawn should be mowed to a height of around one and half inches, but can be left a little longer in the winter. No matter the season, you'll want to keep your Bermudagrass lawn under 2.5 inches, and remember not to cut more than ⅓ of the leaf blade at a time.

What happens to tall grass in winter? ›

As we mentioned above, cold weather triggers grass to go dormant. This is a completely normal process during which your grass stops growing in order to conserve energy and water. Dormancy also helps grass survive extreme temperatures.

How to grow grass quickly in winter? ›

Broadcasting grass seed over bare or patchy areas between snowfalls gives seeds an opportunity to anchor in the soil before germinating. Subsequent periods of freezing and thawing will help the process along, creating cracks and crevices in which seeds may settle before eventually being covered over by shifting soil.

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