Cutting Grass in Winter – Do’s And Don’ts


You’ve probably been taking care of your lawn in the fall, and now you are wondering how to maintain it when winter kicks in. Should you continue mowing in winter? If yes, how do you cut with the cold temperatures?

You can mow your lawn during winter, but you must take the necessary precautions. Avoid cutting when the temperatures go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 4 Celsius), the grass is wet, or the ground is soaked with water. You should also not mow if the grass is covered with ice, frosting, or snow. 

Cutting grass in winter doesn’t have to be challenging. You can do it the right way by following this guide. This article details how you should cut your grass in winter, what to avoid, and the mowing frequency to follow. Keep reading to learn how to keep your lawn looking inviting. 

Can You Cut Grass in Winter?

You mow your lawn in winter, but you must take care not to damage the lawn. First, do not mow the grass if it is wet, it’s rainy, or the ground is damp. If you need to cut grass during the cold season, wait for a warm day. 

Secondly, you need to set your mower at the highest cutting height. Do not slice more than 1/3 of the grass blade when mowing since it will prolong the recovery duration. The best height is about 2-2.5 inches depending on your area.

Lastly, do not cut the grass in winter if the temperatures are below freezing. The same applies if your lawn has ice, snow, or frosting. 

What Temperature Is Too Cold to Mow Grass?

Your grass has a high growth rate during the warm season as it gets enough sunlight for photosynthesis. Therefore, you will mow more frequently since the grass heals and grows fast after you’ve cut it.

During the cold seasons, your grass will have a slow growth rate and will require less mowing. You should stop mowing when the temperature drops to 40F (4.440C) or below. Why should you not mow during these cold temperatures? Simply because you will damage your lawn. 

When the air temperature reaches below 40 degrees F, your grass will have slow growth or stop growing entirely. If you go ahead and cut the grass, it may not heal from the cuts since there’s no sunlight, leading to its ultimate death. 

Cutting Grass When Frost Is Due

Frost can be disastrous to your lawn, especially if it forms after you’ve recently mowed your lawn. When grass has fresh cuts and frost forms on top, it prevents the grass from producing the energy necessary for its recovery. Therefore, the grass may end up turning brown or yellow. 

Besides browning, frosting can cause the grass to die or develop diseases like grass rot. To prevent this, you should mow your yard a week or two ahead of the first frost. 

During winter, you should avoid cutting the grass when there is frosting. If you cut frosted grass, you might end up killing it entirely. It is crucial to note that you should not step on the lawn if it is covered with frosting. Stepping on frosted grass will damage your grass blades.

Also, don’t mow if the grass is dormant, has a minimal growth rate, or if the temperature is below 40F.

How Often to Mow Your Lawn in Winter

Though grass has the slowest growth rate during winter, it may still require mowing. However, you will mow less frequently than you are used to when it is warm. Generally, you should aim to cut after every 2-3 weeks in winter.

The mowing frequency during winter is influenced by the following: 

The Type of Grass

There are two main grass types; warm season and cold season grasses. Some commonly grown cold-season grass include Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass. The warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass. 

Warm-season grass thrives well in hot climates where temperatures range between 80-90F. When the temperatures reach below 50F, the grass will have a slow growth rate. Therefore, you should refrain from mowing it when it’s too cold. 

On the other hand, cool-season grass grows excellently in areas with temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This grass type will also thrive and maintain its green color during winter when temperatures are very low. 

Since the grass will still be growing during winter, you need to mow it more frequently. As I mentioned, you should only mow it when it has no ice.

Grass Height

Different grass types have varying growth rates. Therefore, the mowing frequency will also differ. The height is a rule of thumb in determining how frequently you cut grass in winter. If the air temperature is 40 degrees F and above and the grass is not wet, you can cut it if it’s tall enough. 

You should mow high and maintain the grass height at 2-3 inches to ensure it’s long enough to withstand low temperatures. If the grass is short, don’t mow it as it will struggle to recover and may get damaged by the freezing temperatures. 

Climatic Conditions

Another critical factor in determining the mowing frequency in winter is the climatic conditions. If your region is experiencing a lot of rain or snow, you should not cut the grass even if it is long enough. Cutting wet grass can easily lead to accidents and may damage your grass. 

Before mowing, you should also ensure that your region’s temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Only trim when the temperatures are warm so the grass can recover from the cuts and keep growing. 

Tips for Cutting Grass During Winter 

Your lawn should always look inviting, regardless of the season. When it’s winter, you can use the following tips to care for and maintain your yard:

The Lesser, the Better

In winter, the fewer times you mow, the better. Your lawn is already stressed by the lack of warmth and enough sunlight. Therefore, trimming it more frequently will only add to its stress. Furthermore, the recovery rate from cuts is low during winter due to the lack of sunlight. 

Rather than mowing after a week, you should aim at cutting the grass after 2-4 weeks, depending on how fast your grass grows. You may also stop mowing altogether if the temperatures remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit since the grass has minimal growth. 

Don’t Cut Wet Grass

One of the most challenging tasks in lawn maintenance during winter is finding the right time to mow your yard. As you probably know, you shouldn’t cut wet grass as it results in uneven cuts and may damage the grassroots. 

Furthermore, you should avoid mowing your lawn when the ground is wet, or the soil is soggy. When the soil is damp, it is more susceptible to soil compaction, hindering the grass from absorbing essential elements. 

If your area is rainy, your lawn may flood or become very wet. When you walk, ride, or push a lawnmower on it, it will cause soil compaction. You’ll also step on the grass and leave footprints in the yard, damaging your property’s appearance. 

The best approach is to restrict yourself and your loved ones from stepping on the lawn. You can also find a solution like adding mulch to soak up the water or installing a rain garden. Once the yard and the grass are dry, you can take your mower and cut the grass. 

Mow High 

Once you find the right conditions to cut your grass during winter, set your mower deck higher. The general rule is to cut only a third of the grass blade’s height. Mowing high is essential to ensure that you leave the grass with enough surface area to collect sunlight and make food for the grass to thrive. 

When you mow at a lower height, you risk damaging the grass and causing scalping. Scalping weakens the lawn and increases the chances of your yard getting attacked by diseases and insects. Additionally, it will take more time for your grass to recover after scalping, which may lead to browning or death. 

Though you should mow high, do not leave your grass to overgrow. Letting your grass grow to more than three inches might cause it to wilt and prevent airflow from reaching the soil. Additionally, your grass may get fungal diseases due to moisture or provide hiding places for rodents that damage the lawn. 

Aim to maintain a medium height for your grass so it can thrive during winter. If your lawn has cool-season grass, maintain it at about 2.5 inches. Keep the grass height at about 1.5-2 inches for warm-season grass. 

Final Thoughts

The cold season does not mean leaving your lawn looking untidy. You can enhance its appearance by mowing with the highest setting and cutting it less frequently. If you notice minimal to no growth, do not mow. 

When winter kicks in, use this article as a guide to maintaining a lush green lawn. Lastly, share this guide with your friends to help them achieve a beautiful lawn like yours. 

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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