Can Grass Get Too Long for Mowing?

Mowing grass regularly helps us maintain our lawns and improve their thickness. The right size to trim is a third of the overall height. If you mow your lawn regularly, you limit cases of harboring insects and wild animals near your house. Furthermore, it is easier to mow your lawn while it is short. 

But what happens when you skip a few mowing sessions and things get out of control? Can grass really get too long for a lawnmower to handle? 

Lawnmowers are designed to cut grass up to four inches long. They can also trim grass taller than five inches but shorter than eight inches, but such long grass requires more energy and may overwork the mower. Mowers cannot cut grass over eight inches unless you trim it first.

Occasionally, you may have overgrown grass on your lawn after being away for a vacation or being committed elsewhere. Read on and find out how to go about overgrown grass in your home, and how you can restore its beauty.

Grass Too Long to Mow

We often set intervals at which we trim the grass on our lawns, say weekly or after ten days. The grass, however, grows at different rates depending on the prevailing season and weather conditions.  

When grass grows up to 10 inches tall, it becomes difficult to mow because most mowers can only handle grass up to eight inches. Also, the mowers are powered by either electricity or gasoline and if you overwork them, they may break down. 

Moreover, the heat generated as the mower works can overheat it and cause a mechanical breakdown. It is difficult to cut the grass uniformly when overgrown and this may destroy the lawn or affect the recovery and healing of the grass after trimming. 

The best way to mow long grass is by trimming it first using a slasher to achieve the ideal height before you set the mower to the final trimming. Note that slashing the grass requires time to heal and grow new leaves before mowing so that it doesn’t take too long to recover. 

You can also try using a scythe or a string trimmer for this task if you have them available. 

How Do You Mow Overgrown Grass?

If your lawn overgrows, you need to trim it carefully to avoid destroying both the lawn and your mower. You can recover the original look of your lawn using the following steps:

  1. Clear the lawn of obstructions like rocks, children’s toys, and other forms of debris. Doing this will help you keep your mower from breaking down while trimming your lawn.
  2. Using a weed whip or similar tool, trim the long grass following the one-third rule. If you trim more than a third of the grass, the remaining blades will take too long to recover and lose their green color due to the loss of too many leaves. 
  3. Water the lawn and let the grass rest for two to three days. Doing this makes the grass acclimated to the new conditions and sprouts more leaves to keep itself nourished.
  4. After three days, trim the grass again using a weed whip and let it heal for one week. To speed up the healing process, water the grass and spray it with a growth booster or fertilizer. 
  5.  You can now use a mower to cut your grass. Remember to chop off only a third of the height. 
  6. Clear the clippings from the lawn after they dried up to allow the remaining grass to sprout and keep the lawn neat. To recover a healthy green lawn, dress it with a nitrogenous fertilizer and water it regularly if the season is dry.

Should You Trim Grass Before Mowing?

Whether you should trim grass before mowing depends on a number of factors:

  • The height of the grass
  • The prevailing weather conditions
  • How frequently do you mow your lawn

As we discussed earlier, if your lawn is overgrown it is necessary to give it a good trimming before mowing. However, this is not always the case. For example, if you have a strong lawnmower and you know for a fact that there aren’t any random objects laying around on your lawn, you may decide to give it a try without any preparations.

But if you aren’t sure, or if the area you live in is home to many small animals it is almost always a better solution to check the lawn for obstructions and give it a light trim beforehand. 

Preparing the lawn like this before mowing has many advantages: 

  1. You can easily locate and remove objects that can obstruct and damage your mower, like stones and metallic objects.
  2. You can spot animals that hide under long grass, like snakes which may cause harm if not spotted in time.
  3. Your mowing machine will not get overworked or overheat hence making it easier to maintain.
  4. You make your work easier since the remaining grass height is manageable.

Considering the above advantages, it is advisable to trim your lawn before mowing. 

What Tool is Used for Cutting Tall Grass?

There are many tools in the market for cutting tall grass. Choosing one over the other is a matter of personal preference, but if you never had to cut tall grass before then you wouldn’t know what your options are, right? Let’s take a look: 


This is probably the most famous and oldest tool out of the bunch. While originally used for harvesting wheat and other crops, the scythe can make short work of an overgrown lawn. It is also relatively cheap and isn’t hard to maintain either. 

It also has its downsides though. The technique to use it properly can be quite hard to figure out if you have never done it before, and using it can be quite physically draining too unless you are used to it. 

Overall, it doesn’t hurt to have one of these around – you never know when you will need it. 

String trimmer

While most string trimmers would have a hard time handling an overgrown lawn, they are a good choice for some light trimming before going at it with a lawnmower. They are easier to use than a scythe, but cutting through an overgrown lawn can eat through your trimmer line really fast, especially if you haven’t checked your lawn for foreign objects beforehand. 

Grass slasher

These tools are actually similar to a scythe in the way they function. They have a medium-sized handle with some kind of blade attached to it. This blade comes in many different shapes, but it’s always shorter than the blade of a scythe. 

Unlike a scythe, these tools are usually held in one hand. By now you have probably guessed that they weren’t designed for handling large areas of overgrown grass. But with a bit of effort, they can handle the job just fine if you have no other options. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cutting long grass can be tedious and may render your lawn unattractive if not done properly. Not letting it get to that point is always your best option, but if you find your lawn overgrown after a vacation or a busy month you can follow the steps highlighted in this post to restore it to its original beauty. 

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

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