Should you stop mowing your lawn for the winter? Expert advice

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When should you stop mowing your lawn for the winter? It’s a question most of us ask ourselves year after year, but we’re really none the wiser. In most cases, the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and there just comes an arbitrary time when you put the lawnmower in the garage and decide to stay there until spring.

This laid-back approach to lawn care may have gotten you through countless winters so far, but knowing when to stop mowing your lawn really helps keep your garden’s health in check. While you might assume you can skip your lawn completely in the fall, our lawns actually deserve some serious attention this time of year to ensure lush, green grass when the weather warms up again.

When it comes to your garden, some of us aren’t as aware of nature’s ways as others. If you’re in the less green camp, we’ve compiled expert advice from gardeners and lawn care experts to help you decide when to stop mowing your lawn based on your climate, along with advice on how to improve quality. of your lawn.

Lilith is an expert at keeping up with news and trends in the world of interior design. She’s committed to helping readers make the best choices in their home (and garden) by sharing tips and how-to guides. For this article, she asked advice from gardeners and lawn experts on when to stop mowing your lawn for the winter.

Why stop mowing your lawn in winter?

low maintenance gardens

(Image credit: Alamy)

Before we get into the question of when to stop mowing the lawn, we need to understand why it matters. Most of us know that our grass growth slows down in the winter, so naturally it doesn’t need to be cut as often. However, even if your grass looks like it has grown, you should still avoid cutting it because you could harm its health.

“It’s important to avoid mowing in wet weather, as it can damage the turf and cause erosion,” says Jon Callahan, founder and CEO of the blog, OwtDores (opens in a new tab). “When the weather starts to get colder, your lawn mower blades become less efficient and don’t cut as well.”

Additionally, regular mowing in cool, wet weather can cause your lawn to become clogged. Not only does this risk turning your garden into a mud bath, but it can also damage the soil under your lawn. As Jon explains, “Too much continuous moisture in the ground caused by regular mowing builds up and causes dampness that can lead to pests, disease and even lawn heaving.”

When should you stop mowing your lawn?

Exterior shot of a modern house with a small lawn in the garden

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

The deciding factor when it comes to putting the lawn mower away for another year really comes down to one thing: the temperature. For this reason, it is difficult to give a specific time of year to stop mowing your lawn as it depends on the climate in your area as well as the weather conditions.

In general, mid to late fall is the best time to stop mowing the grass. Check the temperature around mid-October and use that as a guide.

“If you cut your grass regularly, it’s usually best to stop in late November when the temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Jon. “That’s when the ground had a chance to thaw and bind the ground together nicely.”

When it comes to winter lawn care, it’s essential that you stop mowing the grass before the regular ground frosts. If a frost occurs within a few days of cutting your grass, it can cause long-term damage to the health of your lawn. You won’t need to mow your lawn after temperatures drop this low anyway, as growth will have slowed considerably.

Like Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of lawn love (opens in a new tab) explains, “Once temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, most grass species naturally go dormant and therefore no longer need to be mowed.”

He adds, “In areas like the Midwest where winter comes earliest, it typically happens around early October, and in other areas like the Southwest, it can be as late as late November or early december.”

Is it better to cut short or long grass before you stop mowing?

Garden by Jo Thompson MSGD

(Image credit: Garden by Jo Thompson MSGD)

When it’s time for the final mowing, you may be wondering if it’s best to set your mower’s cutting height to a high or low setting.

Really, it will depend on your landscaping and how much shade your lawn has. If your yard gets very shady during the winter, setting your mower setting a half inch higher than usual will allow the grass to photosynthesize better when it’s in the sun. You may want to adjust your setting for different parts of your garden depending on how much sunlight those areas receive.

Jon thinks it’s a good idea to cut your grass short, however, in most cases. “Cutting your grass short before winter can reduce its water needs and help preserve soil moisture during the cold weather months,” he explains.

But gardeners are divided. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of frosts, keeping your weed longer can help it cope with the cold, preventing the frost from penetrating too deeply. And since the larger the surface area of ​​a plant’s leaves, the more sun it can receive, longer grass in the winter is likely to help with long-term health. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether to cut long or short, but that won’t be all and won’t end the health of your lawn.

When should you start mowing your lawn again?

A garden with two red chairs and a wooden table on a small lawn surrounded by foliage and a hydrangea bush

(Image credit: James Merrell)

It may have been a while now, but knowing when to start mowing again is also very important. As a general rule, you should wait until there are no more signs of frost.

“Early spring is usually the perfect time to start mowing your lawn again,” says Jon. “The bad weather has subsided and there will be no more frost, creating the conditions necessary to start care again.”

Start mowing your lawn in the spring with your blades on the highest setting and never cut if your lawn is wet. It’s always safer to mow your lawn too late than too early, so don’t rush!

You might think fall means a low-maintenance garden, but it’s actually a pivotal time of year when it comes to tending to your lawn. “While this is ideally the last time you should mow, it’s not the last time you should do lawn work,” Jeremy reminds us. “Be sure to pick up those leaves, pine needles, and other debris, because rotting organic matter won’t actually be good for your weed to survive its dormant period.”

You should scarify your lawn by removing moss and other debris, and aerate by doping your lawn using a rolling lawn aerator or garden pitchfork at this time of year as well. This will promote spring growth, improve drainage and reduce compaction.

You should also consider using fertilizers to keep your grass healthy. A moss killer (like this one from Amazon (opens in a new tab)) is a good idea. “Use water-soluble fertilizers that work well in cool weather (like fish emulsion) rather than general fertilizers that may not be effective if it’s too cold outside,” says Jon.

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