Seems like a pretty simple thing on the surface but let’s dig, or cut a little deeper. In Northwest Louisiana, we grow a fairly diverse variety of grasses, and within those varieties, there can be more several more varieties. Growing up I can only remember there being St. Augustine and it is still one of the most widely used grasses in our area. However, we also have Bermuda, Hybrid Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia. St. Augustine alone has up to 11 different cultivars which all have their own characteristics. For now, let’s keep it simple. We can get into the really geeky lawn care stuff later.
How high should you cut your grass? Well first of all you need to know what type of grass you have. If you don’t, please just give us a call and we can identify it for you.
The following is a list of each grass type and their recommended mowing height.
St. Augustine 3 ½ -4” With St Aug I always say the higher the better.
Bermuda 1 ½ -2” Bermuda is more versatile but seems to do best at this height.
Hybrid Bermuda 1-2” Best results occur at lower heights but there are other challenges that we will talk about later.
Centipede 2-3” There are some different opinions but somewhere in this range seems to be best.
Zoysia ½-1” It’s very challenging to maintain Zoysia at this height but this is optimal.
How often should you cut your grass? The answer is it depends. As busy as people are it can be difficult to mow the grass as often as it is needed. Here is the rule of thumb: Never cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at one time. This is where it can be a challenge. Let’s take St Augustine as an example, if we are maintaining the grass 3 1/2 “One-third of that would be roughly one inch. So as soon as the grass has grown one inch it’s time to cut it back. Typically, once every 5 to 7 days depending on the weather.
For our grasses that we want to maintain at lower heights 1/3 of that height is less growth so they typically need to be cut more often. In reality, most of us do not have the time to really maintain these grasses at their optimal mowing height, or if we have a commercial mower their schedule is not going to allow them to mow more than once a week (nor would most people want to pay for more visits).
So, what is the answer, do the best you can to maintain your grass at the optimal height but expect that there will be some problems that will need to be addressed. Call an expert to get the very best results from the type of grass that you have.
Last but not least, we often have long periods of rain where it is not wise to put a mower on the lawn. The grass can grow out much taller during this time and we will have to cut more than a third of the blade. That’s ok, this is just part of the challenge. However, if you cut the grass back too far too fast you will see the grass thin out and you will also see a lot of yellowing. Lawns will usually recover from this within another mowing or two. For best results, I recommend that you raise your mower as high as it will go and make the first cut. If possible, a day or so later lower the mower a little more and slowly work the grass back down to its optimal height.
Always remember to keep your blade sharp! We want to cut the grass not tear it. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a meeting with a lawn care professional, please contact us! Even if you are not looking for service but just need advice, we are more than happy to help. We want to be your resource for all of your lawn and landscape needs, everything from mowing, to fertilizing, to irrigation systems and beyond!