As the winter months slowly give way to warmer weather, homeowners who take pride in their lawns are already counting down the days until they can start mowing. It means that Spring has finally arrived, but how do you judge when you should first cut your grass for a year?
There are several factors to consider when timing the first cut, including climate, grass type, and even the equipment being used. As a guide, you will need to wait until the ground has warmed up enough for the grass to start growing before cutting it.
This usually occurs between March and May in the United States and other countries in the northern hemisphere.
In this article, I’ll take you through the signs to look for that indicate your grass is ready to be cut and the natural factors that can affect this. I’ll also provide some clear, actionable advice for maintaining a healthy, good-looking lawn throughout the year. Let’s get started!
What Affects The Timing Of Your First Grass Cut?
There are a few things that can affect when you’re first able to get out there with your mower including your local climate plus the type of grass you have.
Climate And Weather Patterns
The first thing to consider when working out when to start mowing is the weather. The actual timing can vary depending on your geographical location and the kind of climate experienced in your area.
Most experts recommend that grass should not be cut until the ground is warm enough for growth and it has reached at least 2.5 to 3 inches in length. In warm, southern areas of the U.S., this can occur as early as February, while in northern areas you may need to wait until late May or even early June!
The type of grass in your lawn will also play a role in determining the best moment to cut it for the first time. There are two main types of grass: warm season and cool season, and it’s crucial to know which type you have in your yard.
As the names imply, warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, and St. Augustine grass grow best in warm weather. Cool-season grasses on the other hand grow best in cooler weather with common varieties including Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass.
For warm-season grasses, the ideal time to start mowing is when the grass has started actively growing and has reached a height of around 2 inches. This will typically occur in late spring or early summer, depending on where you live. Be sure to adjust the cutting height on your mower to the appropriate level for your grass type, as different types require different heights. (If you are wondering about the optimal height setting for your mower, you can check out this article.)
Cool-season grasses can be mowed earlier in the season, typically in late March or early April. You should wait until the grass has grown to a height of around 3 inches before mowing. Again, be sure to adjust the cutting height on your mower to the appropriate level for your grass type.
The green-up period for lawns is another factor that plays a critical role in timing the first mow. This period refers to the time when the lawn is starting to recover from winter dormancy and actively growing. This mainly applies to warm-season grasses.
During this time, the grass is far more fragile than usual and requires the utmost care to avoid damage that could set back the progress of your lawn.
Tips For A Successful First Grass Cut Of The Year
Once you’ve determined the best time to start mowing your lawn, it’s important to follow some basic tips to ensure you get the best results.
– Start with a clean mower: It’s always a good idea to clean up your mower before storing it over the winter. But in case you forgot to do this back in the Fall, be sure to clean your mower in the Spring to remove any dirt, debris, or old grass clippings. This will help ensure a clean cut and prevent any damage to the blades. If you are having trouble with cleaning the grass bag of your mower, check out this article.
– Adjust the height: As mentioned earlier, be sure to adjust your mower cutting height to the appropriate level for your grass type. Cutting too short to start with can damage the grass and lead to other problems, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations (you can read more about the potential dangers of cutting your lawn too short here).
– Clean up your lawn: Before mowing the grass for the first time, remove any debris such as rocks, sticks, and animal dirt. I have written about this process and just making your lawn easier to mow in more detail here.
How To Mow Your Grass To Keep It Looking Great
Keeping your grass looking green and healthy through the rest of the year may not always go to plan, but there are a few basic mowing tips and tricks you can follow to increase your chances.
First of all, make sure that you mow in different directions each time you cut the grass to avoid creating ruts or wear patterns in your lawn. This will help ensure a more even cut and appearance.
It’s also a good idea to trim and edge after mowing, using an edger or string trimmer. This helps remove any tall grass and weeds around the edges of your lawn and creates a clean, sharp border around it.
Lastly, always be sure to maintain your mower throughout the season to ensure it runs properly and provides the best results. This includes sharpening the blades regularly, changing the oil and air filter as needed, and checking the spark plug and fuel filter.
A well-maintained lawn is a source of pride for homeowners and provides pleasure to family and friends. Proper timing of the first cut is critical, and I hope that you now know what the different factors are that affect this.
The biggest mistake is cutting it too early, so if in doubt, just leave it for a little bit longer before getting the lawnmower out.
By following the simple steps shared in this article, you can make sure your lawn looks great right from the start and continues to thrive throughout the season. Happy mowing!