What Is the Proper Mowing Height for Grass in Your Yard?

Cutting grass with Toro lawn mower.

How low–or high–should I cut the grass in my lawn? -Rasheem

The proper height for mowing your lawn depends on the type of grass, the season, and the growing conditions. For example, bentgrass can be mowed under 1/2″ while tall fescues should be 3-4 inches high. Choosing the correct mowing height is important since:

  • Proper mowing creates a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn.
  • Mowing discourages undesirable grasses and weeds while encouraging your chosen grass type. For example, mowing fescue higher will discourage Bermuda grass which is low-growing.

Pointers for Setting Mower Cutting Height

  • Shady grasses grow better if mowed a little higher.
  • Raise the blade to the top of the cutting range for your type of grass (see chart below) during drought conditions in summer to reduce the stress on your lawn.
  • Cut warm-season grasses at the lower end of the cutting range in early spring to remove dead blades.
  • In general, cool-season grasses do best when cut as high as possible.
  • Different varieties within the same grass type may vary as to the best cutting height, so try to identify the specific variety you have (such as ‘Zenith’ zoysia or ‘Empire’ zoysia), then check with a sod or seed supplier for cutting recommendations.

Recommended Mowing Heights for Lawn Grasses

The chart below gives general guidelines for grass cutting height.

Grass Type Mowing Height
Bahia grass 2” – 3”
Bentgrass ¼” – ¾”
Bermuda ½” – 1½”
Buffalograss 2” – 3”
Centipede 1½” – 2½”
Fine fescue 1½” – 2½”
Kentucky Bluegrass 1½” – 2½”
Ryegrass 1½” – 2½”
St. Augustine 2” – 4”
Tall fescue 2” – 3”
Zoysia ½” – 1½”

Further Information

Julie

26 COMMENTS

  1. In the spring, mow frequently…at least once a week. It may not appear that the lawn needs to be cut but by doing so will stimulates growth and helps to choke out winter weeds. I have found that keeping the grass at the top of the recommended cut height in the summer months will protect the roots from the summer heat and help stay off bugs. I do not know why this works since I am not trained in this field. Trial and lots of error over many years makes the difference. And lastly, use a good quality fertilizer. The discount brands are less forgiving when it comes to overuse. Some of them are not time released products and can easily destroy a beautiful yard with an overzealous dosing.

  2. I think you also have to consider your lawn when choosing cutting height. Such as drainage, pitch of yard, do you have shade or does it get full Sun. My lawn generally has little shade and is flat to pitched. I tend to mow between 3″ and 4″ depending on temp and moisture. In the middle of Summer I tend to raise height closer to 4″ and since my mower only has 1″ increments I feel 3″ in a dry Summer is too low. Yes, I have neighbors who generally scalp their lawn I guess so they don’t have to mow as often. But it certainly shows how unhealthy that can be.

  3. During cooler seasons you could mow your lawn until there is approximately three inches left. If its during a warmer season you can mow your grass until there is about two inches left in height. However, with each cut its important to not mow more than 1/3 of the height of your grass.

    Hope this helps!

  4. I have been cutting my zoysia 3 inches high but was talking with an Ag agent this week and he told me that 3 inches in too tall because it will cause thatch buildup. I have been using my thatching rake, and sure enough there is a build up of thatch around the roots. I’m lowering my mower to 2 inches.

  5. Live on Roscoe street, pay property taxes to Metro Gov. as well as Goodlettsville, rear of my home (hollywood st at Dickerson Rd). They will not cut grass until made to by gov. if we pay metro gov property can the owners be made to keep cut, they always say not in our budget to cut. This is a misquata, rats, and snake problem.
    Please do not say this is City Of Goodlettsville to make the owers cut if so why do we pay Metro Gov. property taxes

  6. How do you measure the mowing height? I set the mower on a flat surface then measure from the bottom of the deck to the surface. Is that the correct way?

  7. People used to love well-maintained property. It allows us to enjoy outdoors and boost our self-confidence to show how clean and neat our properties. Thanks for posting those wonderful ideas. It’s a great help!

  8. Thank you for this,I have Bermuda of almost a pitch, I am in Uganda and now we experience summer season, were by we receive 30•c every day, so I want to know how often do we have to cut my grass so that it can service during this very hot day? And which level should I cut it on?

  9. I live in minnesota my neighbor likes her grass at 5 in. I cut mine at 4 in . All my life I have been cutting it at 4 in. I said 5in may be too high. So what is the ideal height ?

  10. Need some advice about a weed and how to get rid of it, I do believe it is called creeping Charlie, had it last year, in fact a lot of people did even in other towns, it is purple in color, A big Thanks if you can help me………

  11. JERRY and Claude just seen this post. If you want to get rid of creeping charlie, clover, sticker bushes, dandelions I highly recommend Lesco Momentum FX. Its used in a hose sprayer or spot sprayer. Don’t use when planting new seed or when extremely hot out. Day or 2 after mowing is ideal. Follow instructions on bottle. I battled creeping charlie for years till I found this stuff. Went from 80% creeping charlie to about 1% ( still comes under my wooden fence from my neighbors house) .

    • Hi, Wendy,
      We recommend referring to the general guidelines chart and using the high end for the type of grass you have.
      Thanks for reading, and thank for your question!

  12. We live in Charleston SC along the coast we put in Zoysia grass. We usderstand the proper height to mowing height is 1 1/2 “. If to short it burns out. I’d this ok? How often do we water & for how long?
    In the pass we have got brown leave spot in the late summer how do we prevent this from happening?
    Sure look for to your response & any other suggestions.
    Thank you,
    Mike

  13. We have Bahia grass and our lawn service has been cutting it very short and we think it looks good. HOA said we have to cut it 2-3 inches high but it looks terrible ! Lawn service said with HOA they cannot advise us. HELP !

    Phil & Lynn Baldwin
    Yulee, Florida 32097

    • Hi, Phil and Lynn!
      Homeowners associations can be beneficial (such as ensuring each home meets specific, uniform guidelines for a consistent look throughout the neighborhood, in order to maintain quality of life and property values) but they also can present challenges, such as requiring you to do certain things. Complying with HOA covenants is mandatory; your best bet is to attend the next HOA board meeting and express your concern.
      Good luck!

  14. Hi Guys, love the advice you give but why do you use a photo of a mower with a bag at the top of the page? Clippings should go right back onto the lawn, right? Just wanted to point out that this sends a mixed message.

    • Hi, Steve! Some folks use grass clippings for animal feed, mulch and compost, so that’s why they bag ’em.
      Of course, others choose to leave those clippings on the lawn. It’s just up to the homeowner.

  15. Wow I didn’t know HOA determined the specific height of grass. That sounds a little ridiculous. What do they do go out with a ruler and measure it? I mean to maintain the designated height you would need to cut it daily then right?

  16. What would be an unacceptable height to maintain regular South Eastern Ohio grass? There has been a huge debate in my house for years.
    I mow on the highest setting on our John Deer riding mower and my partner state it doesn’t even look like it was mowed.

  17. I have a lawn that is 2 years old , as of a month ago it was fine, it had a deep green color but now i have grass blades that are brown and when i mow the top of the blade splits tares about one eighth of a inch of the blade. my blades are sharp, my speed is good. we have had 5 or 6 inches of rain in the last few weeks could th is be the problem.

    • Hi, Donald,
      You can mow the lawn after a rain, but first, you need to check the grass.
      Make sure the blades aren’t bent over — if they are standing straight up, it should be OK to mow the lawn.
      Let us know how it goes!

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