When Should You Begin Mowing Your Lawn in Spring?

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When Should You Begin Mowing Your Lawn in Spring?

As spring arrives, you might be wondering when to start mowing your lawn. The timing is crucial for the health and strength of your grass as the season progresses. If you mow too early, you could damage the young and tender grass that is still recovering from winter. But if you wait too long, your lawn might become overgrown and difficult to manage. The best way to determine the perfect mowing time is to keep a close eye on your lawn’s growth rate and the weather patterns in your area. While some places still have a cold ground freeze, others might experience heavy rain and soggy conditions due to spring showers. Therefore, it’s important to carefully evaluate your lawn’s condition under these circumstances.

It is also important to know the ideal height for your lawn’s cool-season grass. In cooler climates like Minnesota, aim for a grass height of approximately 2 to 2.5 inches after cutting. To achieve this, start mowing when the grass has reached a height of about 3 to 3.75 inches. This will ensure you only remove a third of the grass blade, which promotes healthy growth. If you’re unsure when to begin mowing, wait until the grass is at least 2 inches tall, and the temperature has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a while. This way, you can give your lawn the go-ahead to grow strong without rushing or falling behind.

Preparing your lawn and mower for the first cut

woman tidying up lawn

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Before you start mowing this spring, make sure your grass isn’t wet. Think of your lawn less like a waterlogged sponge and more like a dry, ready-to-trim carpet. Mowing it while it’s still soggy can not only mess up your mower but also lead to uneven cuts and clumping, which isn’t good for your lawn’s health or appearance. Now, about your mower: Give it a once-over before you start, making sure the blades are sharp and clean. This isn’t just about making your mower’s job easier — it’s about ensuring your grass gets a smooth cut, encouraging healthy growth. Also, take a walk around your lawn. Look out for any debris, like sticks and leaves that could get in the way or damage your mower. While you’re at it, it’s a good time to spot any bare patches or weeds needing some TLC before the season kicks into gear.

When it comes to that first mow, resist the urge to go too short. Sure, a closely cropped lawn looks tidy, but giving your grass a bit more height early in spring does wonders. Most importantly, it helps roots grow deeper and keeps your lawn healthier. As the weeks go by, adjust the mowing height based on what kind of grass you’re growing. Types like Bermudagrass do just fine even if you cut them down to ½ inch. But if you’ve got a cooler-weather friend like fescue, keep it at least 2 inches tall to keep it happy.

After the first cut: establishing a mowing routine

 mower sitting in lawn

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After you’ve given your lawn its first trim of the season, stick to a regular mowing schedule to keep it in tip-top shape. Try to mow once a week to keep everything looking neat and even. Most lawns do best with grass about 1 to 1.5 inches tall during spring. But if your lawn’s a busy place, with lots of feet trampling over it, let the grass grow a bit taller — around 2 inches so it can really bounce back from all that activity. If you’ve got shady spots, let the grass there get a bit longer (around 3 inches) to make sure it stays healthy even without much sunlight.

When summer starts making itself known and the heat cranks up, you might want to mow a bit more often, like twice a week, especially if the weather is really dry. Dialing it back to once a week is fine when there’s not much rain. And here’s a hot tip: Lift those mower blades when the weather’s hot. Taller grass handles drought better, keeps a nicer color, and is more resilient overall. So, it’s not just about that initial mow — it’s all about how you look after your lawn as the seasons change. Regular mowing, adjusting the height as needed, and staying on top of the weather can make all the difference, helping your lawn stay lush and green from spring right into summer.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.