Biggest Lawn-Care Mistake Is Cutting Grass Too Short. Long grass cutter
Using a Hedge Trimmer to Cut Grass
The first time I heard this suggestion, I genuinely laughed. But using a hedge trimmer to cut grass is not as stupid as it sounds, especially tall grass. You see, when you have super tall grass to tackle, a lawn mower is often not going to be an option. And a lot of string trimmers will struggle too. You need something to slice right through the top layer of grass to bring it down to a length that is more manageable for a lawn mower.
I’ve rarely (never) had the need to use a hedge trimmer to cut grass myself, as I try my best to keep on top of my lawn maintenance, but I have heard stories of yard care contractors using one in extreme cases. If you have an area of grass that wouldn’t be out of place in a jungle, follow the steps below to bring it back under control.
How to Use a Hedge Trimmer to Cut Grass
If you’ve never used a hedge trimmer to cut grass before (I don’t think you’re alone), follow the steps below to do the job safely and effectively.
Inspect the Area First
This is important because long grass can hide a whole manner of things beneath it. I’m talking rocks, metal pipes, garden ornaments. With super long grass, there really could be anything under there, and you’re not going to want your hedge trimmer connecting with anything solid, as you might damage the blade.
So before you start cutting the grass, walk through the area and check that there’s nothing that might cause a problem. If you find anything, remove it.
Dress for the Occasion
The following things are not all strictly necessary, but they’re advisable for safety reasons. Wearing safety glasses is a good idea, as debris can kick up, and it’s a good idea to remove any jewelry that is not tight-fitting, such as chains and necklaces. It’s also a good idea to tie long hair up (wouldn’t want that getting caught in a hedge trimmer!).
Keep the Cable Clear
If you’re using a corded electric trimmer, you’re also going to need to be careful with the power cord – if you’ve ever used a corded mower, you’ll know what a pain this is. Make sure it’s always kept out of the way so that there’s no chance that you could accidentally cut through it with your trimmer. If you’re using a gas or battery-powered trimmer, obviously ignore this.
Bend Your Knees
Take hold of your trimmer with one hand on the front and one on the back, and start it up. Posture is kind of important when you’re using a hedge trimmer to cut grass. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d imagine it’s quite easy to do your back in if you’re not careful, as the times I’ve seen people doing this, the position their back was in was the exact opposite of that they show in every workplace safety video I’ve ever seen.
Try not to bend your back over double. Bend your knees instead to get a bit lower. If you find this difficult, try kneeling down on your knees instead. This will allow you to have more control over your trimmer.
Keep the Blade Level and Move It Slowly
You’re not going to want to cut too close to the ground, as the quality of the finish won’t be like what a lawn mower would produce. So position your hedge trimmer several inches off the ground, and make sure you maintain the blade horizontal and parallel to the ground at all times. You’re going to want to move the blade nice and slowly – that’s key. This is especially important if the grass is thick and will ensure your trimmer doesn’t get overwhelmed and can do its job effectively.
Pause Periodically to Clear Clippings
As the grass clippings in this scenario are so long, it can get a little confusing as to what you’ve cut and what you haven’t if you don’t clear the clippings away. So tackle the job in sections and then pause to clear clippings. That way, you’ll have a clearer view of what you still need to cut.
As a quick side note. Ever wondered what to do with grass clippings after mowing? There are actually quite a few options. From simply depositing them into a yard waste container, to adding them to a compost pile to drying them out and using them as bedding for any pets you might have.
When Should You Cut Grass with a Hedge Trimmer
A hedge trimmer is designed to trim hedges. I say that as I want to make it clear that a hedge trimmer is not a tool you should normally use to cut grass with. It should only really be used if you’re dealing with extremely overgrown grass or you need a way to cut grass without a lawn mower as you don’t have one at your disposal.
Advantages of Cutting Long Grass with a Hedge Trimmer
There are a few different tools you could use to cut long grass down to size, including hedge shears, a scythe or a machete. Here are a few advantages that a hedge trimmer has over those other options when it comes to cutting grass.
- It’s motorized so you can cut long grass much more quickly and effectively.
- A level cut is easier to achieve with a hedge trimmer than with alternatives when cutting long grass.
- It’s less effort so if you don’t feel like sweating buckets to tame the wilderness, here’s your solution.
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the “lawn mower guru” (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
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Biggest Lawn-Care Mistake Is Cutting Grass Too Short
Kelly Burke is a professional turf manager who is accredited in organic land care and a licensed pesticide applicator.
A quick drive through almost any neighborhood where the lawns are planted with cool-season turfgrasses quickly reveals the biggest lawn care mistake known to man—mowing the grass too short! When you understand the effects of this kind of mowing, you’ll never look at lawns the same way again.
One reason that people cut their lawns so short is a misguided effort to reduce chores. By giving the lawn a crew-cut each time you mow, you might think you can mow every 10 days (for example) rather than every week.
In reality, though, you’ll really only buy a few extra days between mowings with this strategy; in the long run, your lawn will pay a heavy price for your extra hour of free time, as you’ll see.
Another reason for the turfgrass crewcuts is an owner’s desire to make the lawn look like a manicured baseball field or golf green. Who doesn’t want a beautiful green lawn that is striped just like Fenway Park? Or a soft velvety lawn that looks like the 18th green at Augusta National golf course? In reality, these highly artificial “lawns” are achieved with specialized reel mowers and protected from stress with a dizzying array of chemical fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other products rarely seen by homeowners. And they are kept green with a computerized irrigation system overseen by a caretaker and staff of turf professionals with college degrees.
Cutting your lawn grass short really won’t save you much on lawn chore time, and it’s not realistic to think that you’re going to achieve the picture-perfect lawn you dream of. In fact, you may well end up with an uglier, more labor-intensive lawn than if you cut the lawn to a proper length from the start.
The Effects of Cutting the Lawn Too Short
A lawn of dense turf grass shorn to a uniform one to two inches is a beautiful thing to behold—for a little while, anyway. The problem is that this kind of mowing puts an enormous amount of stress on the turf. Each blade of grass is a leaf, and with less leaf area, each grass plant has less surface area to provide the photosynthesis that fuels leaf and root development.
When the lawn is mowed very low, the actual crowns of the grass plants themselves can be injured by the lawnmower blade, and this opens up a host of cascading problems. As the plant puts all its energy into recovering from the crown damage, it opens up a weakness in the lawn, increasing the pressure from weeds, insects, and diseases. Once a lawn suffers widespread crown damage, it may struggle against weed invasions and grub infestations for the entire growing season. Even if the plant crowns aren’t physically damaged, the short grass offers little shade to the sensitive plant crowns, making the lawn susceptible to summer heat stress.
These conditions favor the never-ending cycle of using chemical herbicides and pesticides to deal with problems that occur season after season. The multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry is only too happy to play along with the notion that insecticides and herbicides must be applied religiously every season.
The solution is very easy. Mow the lawn as high as possible—as high as you can comfortably tolerate.
Most homeowners find that three to three-and-a-half inches is a good height, though it may take some time to become acclimated to a length that feels a little shaggy at first. Mowing the lawn to this height once a week (or less during heat and drought stress) will ease the stress to the plants and result in an overall healthier lawn. Using a mulching lawnmower is even better; returning the clippings to the lawn saves work and provides another source of organic matter to the lawn.
How To Grow Grass #shorts
A longer lawn means more leaf blade, and this provides several benefits. leaf blade means more photosynthesis, which results in stronger, more prolific root and shoots growth. This, in turn, means the plant is better able to withstand stresses such as drought, insect infestation, and heat. Healthier individual turf plants lead to a denser lawn that will crowd out weeds. Longer grass also has the effect of hiding whatever patchy, thin areas do exist in the lawn.
Longer Grass Means Fewer Chemicals
All too many homeowners react to the presence of weeds assuming it’s necessary to “get out the chemicals.” This is a myth that lawn care services and chemical manufacturers are all too ready to perpetuate.
In reality, though, the reason for the weeds is very often a lawn that has been stressed by mowing it too short. The solution may be ingeniously simple: let the grass grow to a longer height and keep it there.
Once you have recognized that a longer lawn is healthier than a crew-cut lawn, be careful not to go to extremes by letting the grass grow to six or eight inches or more between mowings. Most lawn care experts recommend cutting no more than one-third of the total length of the grass blades each time you mow; trimming a smaller amount is even better. Very long grass is hard to mow effectively—the grass blades tend to tear rather than be sliced off cleanly by the lawnmower blade. Too many clippings can form a matt on your lawn that blocks sunlight from reaching the grass blades and mars the appearance of your lawn. And as anyone who has done it knows, mowing very long grass with a push mower takes a lot of effort.
If you have settled on a three-inch mowing height, for example, don’t let the grass get longer than four or four-and-a-half inches between mowings. Trimming frequently with a mulching mower to keep your lawn turf in the three-to-four-inch length range is a great prescription for a beautiful, healthy lawn.
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- What Is Photosynthesis. Smithsonian Science Education Center, 2017.
- “Mowing Practices For Healthy Lawns.” Extension.Umn.Edu, 2018, https://extension.umn.edu/lawncare/mowing-practices-healthy-lawns.
- “Lawn Insect Management GuidelinesPests In Gardens And Landscapes.” Ipm.Ucanr.Edu, 2014, http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7476.html.
How to Mow Tall Grass Without Damaging Your Lawn
Mowing in tall grass can be difficult. It can often cause your mower to get bogged down or even to stall our while you’re mowing. In this article I’ll tell you how to mow tall grass. I’ll also provide tips to avoid wasting time stalling, clearing clogs, or damaging your lawn.
While commercial lawn companies do have equipment that will cut an overgrown lawn, they can be expensive. You also might not have time to wait around for them to schedule your appointment.
Following these basic steps will help ensure that you don’t damage your lawn when mowing through tall grass.
My Tips on How to Mow Tall Grass
Below I’ve collected my top tips on how to mow tall grass efficiently:
First, Cut a Little Bit at a Time
One of the biggest mistakes that someone can make when mowing an overgrown lawn is trying to cut it down to the desired height on the first pass.
While this may seem like it will save you time, it won’t.
Trying to cut long grass in one pass will cause your lawn mower to clog up. Your mower will likely stall and shut down as well. Not only can this damage your mower, it will leave you with more aggravation than you started with.
I suggest cutting your lawn down in a few passes and, if possible, spreading that mowing over a few days.
Remove the top layer of grass. Then mow it again one or two days later to get to the desired length.
If your grass is like a meadow, try a weed-wacker or scythe to knock it down to size. Allow the grass to recover for a few days, then repeat the process to get to the desired length.
If you cut more than 1/3 of the length of your grasses at a time, you risk damaging the health of your lawn.
This is why I recommend giving your lawn an opportunity to recover, heal, and begin growing again before you cut more.
Using your trimmer, cut off the tops of the blades of grass, and removing the trimmings when finished.
If you’re pressed for time (or you’re impatient), it’s usually ok to take multiple passes over your lawn to get it to the desired length.
Make sure to bag your clippings or rake them so you’re not smothering the grass with the mulched clippings.
One thing that I recommend when mowing tall grass is to stop mowing as soon as your grass is standing up straight.
Let the lawn heal at that point before coming back later in the week to mow to the desired height. You’ll be glad you did.
Next, Trim Grass to the Desired Height
Just because you have trimmed your grass once doesn’t mean that you won’t have to trim it again for another year. It actually means just the opposite. It is recommended that you trim your grass again roughly one week after the initial trim.
You can either do this by using your grass trimmer, or you can do this by setting your lawn mower to its highest setting before you mow.
It is common for most lawn mowers to have the highest setting of 4.” If your lawn is still taller than this after the initial trim, it is best to use the trimmer to cut the lawn down before you use your lawn mower.
Remember, a good rule of thumb to use when deciding how short to cut your lawn is the “Two-thirds rule.”
You only ever want to cut the top third of your lawn, leaving the bottom two thirds to live and be healthy.
Finally, Remember to Take it Slow
Now that your lawn is the right height and you can finally use your mower, remember it isn’t a race.
It might be tempting to go full throttle with your lawn mower. That will not lead to a healthy lawn.
A slower pace will cause less stress on your grass, ensuring a healthy lawn.
Proper Maintenance is Important After Mowing Tall Grass
Mowing the lawn is not always everyone’s favorite household chore. It can be really easy to let your lawn get overgrown and out of control. However, letting that happen will only lead to more work in the long run.
If you let your lawn get overgrown, it can cause stress on the grass, leading to an unhealthy lawn.
I have another article that discusses how often to mow your lawn if you’re looking for tips.
Here is a quick recap of the tips mentioned above:
- Trim your lawn first. It is important to not immediately take a lawn mower to your tall grass. The lawn mower likely not be able to handle the amount of clippings, but it will also damage your lawn. Trim it back first using a trimmer for the best results.
- Trim your lawn twice. After the first trim, it is likely that your lawn is still too long to mow. Make sure that your grass is standing upright, no bent blades before you decide to mow.
- Slow and Steady makes healthy grass. By mowing your lawn at a slower pace, you will have the best-looking lawn on the block in no time.
Mowing very long grass, this is the best method
Dealing with long grass can be a tricky process. It is not as simple as pushing a lawnmower over it, as it might damage your lawn and the mower. When you mow very long grass, the mower can get clogged or overheated. Mowing long grass can also tear the grass instead of cutting it, which affects the lawn’s overall health.
Mowing very long grass, this is the best method:
Mowing very long grass requires more effort and patience. First, trim it to a manageable height with a brush cutter or string trimmer before cutting it with a lawnmower. Allow the grass to recover for a few days. Once your lawn is at the right height, you can finally mow the grass in your lawn with your lawnmower at its highest setting. Cut very long grass at a slower pace to ensure less stress and a healthy lawn. It might be tempting to go full throttle with your lawnmower, but it will not lead to a healthy lawn.
This article will provide you how to cut your overgrown grass. It will also provide you a step-by-step guide to mow very long grass without damaging your lawn and lawnmower.
Problems with long grass
Before discussing the steps to mow long grass, let’s look at the problems that arise when the grass is kept too long. Tallgrass is unattractive as its blades grow with arbitrary and irregular heights, adding to your lawn’s inconsistent appearance. It is also not advisable as it makes it difficult for the grass to hold itself up, and if it drops on the surrounding grass, it can suffocate it. If the grass is long and you use it for your kids or other activities, it takes more time to dry.
Long grass also traps moisture in the lower areas, making the lawn more prone to fungus and other diseases. This makes the grass grow unevenly, and your lawn may look rough. over, there is also a high chance that the grass may turn yellow or brown.
Not mowing for a long time may cause the grass to go to seeds where its blades look more like weeds than grass. Long grass may overwhelm your mower and dull your mower’s blades faster. Clippings left behind after mowing the longer grass are also longer. The amount of clippings is higher and difficult to manage. Often you will need to rake it.
Longer grass clippings often sit on the top of the lawn and are difficult to remove. over, longer clipping blocks the sunlight to the turfgrass, which affects its health. During regular mowing, the short clippings easily fall on the ground, where they decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
What happens when long grass is mowed too short at once?
It is recommended to cut your overgrown lawn in steps. Cutting in a single attempt may cause damage to your lawn. Mowing too much at once makes your lawn more vulnerable to weather stress, weeds, and diseases. Cutting the grass too short also inhibits root growth.
When grass is mowed too short, the leaves’ surface area is reduced. This is where the grass makes food and relies on it for the roots to grow. If too short, it will weaken the roots, and they are less able to endure rain and drought. Shallow roots require more water and make it difficult for the grass to maintaining moisture. A grass mowed too low has fewer leaves available for photosynthesis, which damages the grass.
Mowing the long grass too short exposes the turf to direct heat which causes it to dry quickly, especially in summers. Therefore, extra care is needed for the lawn by watering it frequently to protect it from drought. over, grass cut too short struggles to fight the intruders and succumb to diseases, weeds, and pests.
Cutting extra-long grass, step by step:
You will always need a bit more patience while handling overgrown grass than a lawn that is maintained properly. It is a bit more challenging to get the lawn into a perfect shape after not mowing it for so long.
Commercial lawn companies have the equipment to deal with such lawns, but it can be costly to hire them for this job. over, you might have to wait for a long time to schedule your appointment with these professional companies.
Let’s have a look at the tools required to cut long grass:
- Lawn Mower
- Depending on the height: String trimmer, sickle, scythe, or a brush cutter
- Broad fork
- Lawn fertilizer
- Working gloves
- Safety goggles
- Scarifying rake
Following these basic steps will help you to mow very long grass without damaging your lawn.
Biggest Lawn Care MISTAKE with an EASY FIX
Step 1: Removing the top layer of the grass
The first step depends on the starting height of the grass. If the grass is very high, it will be a problem to mow it with your lawnmower. It will cause your mower to clog up and likely will stall and shut down or may get overheated. Mowing long grass straight away with your mower can cause damage to your mower as well as to your lawn. So, try to avoid using the mower to cut very long grass.
In case the grass is very long, it is advisable first to use a brush cutter, trimmer, or scythe to reduce the grass to a more manageable height. Only after that use your lawnmower. Depending on your garden’s size, you can either use a brush cutter, string trimmer, or sickle if you don’t have access to a scythe. These tools will help you reduce the long grass to a reasonable height and make your lawnmower work much more manageable. However, remember that the string trimmers and sickle tend to tear the grass a lot, and the grass may get caught up in the tool.
It is recommended to take off a small section at a time and then remove the waste. Once you have removed the top layer, it is recommended to water your lawn and leave it to that height for some time to recover during that time.
If you do not have the equipment first to cut the grass to a more manageable height, you can try to use your lawnmower for this. Set it to the highest setting and cut with only a small part of the mowing deck. It means that most of the deck moves over an already cut area, and only a small part will move over the long grass. It means you will have to go around much more often.
Step 2: Second Trim
Once you have left the lawn to recover from the first trim for a week or so, it is time for a second cut. It is not recommended to trim your grass sooner than around one week after the initial trim. You should now have a lawn that is short enough to mow with a lawnmower at this time.
For most of the lawnmowers, the typical highest setting is 4 inches. If your grass is still taller than 6 to 7 inches after the first trim, it is best to trim it again with a grass trimmer before using your lawnmower. If your grass is short enough to be mowed by a lawnmower, there is no need to trim it again.
Set your mower to the highest settings before you start mowing. This will reduce the stress on your lawn and prevent it from damaging. You must make sure that everything is even. Mow the long grass with a sharp blade so that your mower doesn’t damage the grass blades. Keep this reality in mind that after you have finished mowing it, your lawn may look terrible and dreadful but don’t worry about that. It will take some time to improve.
If you are dealing with a very rough patch of lawn or a very large lawn, it is recommended to use a gas mower. But if your lawn is small, an electric mower is the best as it works well in tricky areas.
Step 3: Scarifying the lawn
Once you are finished with the mowing, the next step is to scarify or score your lawn. This step also requires a lot of effort. Rake the lawn one meter at a time. Try to get all the weeds and moss off the lawn. You can hire a machine for this job if you have a large area to cover.
Step 4: Dealing with the drainage
The areas in your lawn that are persistently wet must be prodded with a fork and then must be filled with sand to fill the holes in the lawn and create drainage.
Step 5: Feeding the lawn
You should feed your lawn after the above steps as the grass has gone through a lot of stress. It requires nutrients. Fertilizing your lawn is important as fertilizers supply nitrogen and nutrients, which helps it to remain green. Lawn fertilization also helps the grass to grow thick and healthy. A lawn with thick and healthy growth of grass creates a natural resistance against weeds. Fertilizers enrich the soil with the necessary nutrients that it lacks and make the grass grow faster, healthy and strong.
Usually, fertilizers are applied in springs, early summers, and fall. During this period of time, mowing is also a regular activity. Mow at the right time after fertilization and ensuring that the fertilizer has absorbed in the soil and performed its task efficiently.
Step 6: Reseeding the lawn
If you have bare patches on your lawn, you can reseed the patches to grow new grass. Prepare the soil for reseeding by removing old grass and weeds. Use a rake to remove any large debris, level the ground, and break large clumps of dirt. Then spread the grass seeds over the patch and fertilize to provide much-needed nutrients to grow the root system deeper and faster. Water the patches daily, and don’t let the seeded patches dry out. Try to keep the ground moist until seedlings grow to a height of 2 inches.
Tips for mowing an overgrown lawn
Advice from the experts is always valuable. We have collected several tips which will ensure that you get through the overgrown lawn quickly.
- Tune-up: If you have a gas mower, tune-up the engine properly for the heavy job ahead.
- Sharpen the blades: Sharpen the blades of your mower to handle the heavy stress.
- Mow slow: Mow slowly and patiently. A slow pace will cause less stress on your grass, ensuring a healthy lawn.
- Multiple passes: Don’t try to cut all the long grass in a single attempt.
- Trimmer: Use a trimmer to cut off the top layer and remove trimmings when finished before mowing it with a mower.
- Recover: Allow your lawn to recover and begin growing again before you cut more.
- Wet grass: Avoid mowing when the lawn is wet. Mowing a muddy or wet lawn will damage the grass.
- One-third rule: Always follow the one-third rule, and never cut more than one-third of your grass during a single mow.
- Spring or summer: Try to mow the overgrown lawn in the spring or summer season as the grass grows faster in these seasons.
- Stop when the grass is standing up: Stop mowing as soon as your grass is standing up straight.
- Not in the winter: Don’t mow the overgrown grass in winter because it may not cope with the stress of mowing short in cold weather.
- Change the pattern: Change your lawn mowing pattern every time you mow your lawn.
If you have a lawn with very long grass and are not looking forward to cutting it, there is nothing to worry about. Just follow the directions given in this blog post, and you will have a well-maintained lawn soon. Do not remove all the long grass at once. This can damage your lawn as well as your lawnmower.
Mowing long grass requires patience. If it is really long, the best method is to cut the grass’s top layer with a grass trimmer (sickle or string trimmer) or a brush cutter to a manageable height first. Then allow your lawn to heal and recover from the initial trim. Once it is healed, mow the lawn to your desired height with your lawnmower. You may reseed the bare patches if there are any. If you follow the directions given in this article, you will most likely have a lush, healthy, and well-maintained lawn quickly.