As the temperature drops, your lawn, trees, shrubs, and other plants in your property start going into hibernation. Once winter hits, there’s little to no room for care. That’s why it’s very important to mow your lawn before winter. You can do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you by searching for “landscape companies near me”. However, it’s difficult to nail the timing of the last mow. Let’s check out how you can figure it out:
- Importance of the last cut – The last cut before winter helps the grass survive through the harsh cold season and also come back in all its glory in the spring. If you don’t do the last cut properly, the grass becomes more vulnerable to mold and has fewer food reserves during the winter month when the sunlight is scarce.
You need to cut the grass to the right height and also take other pre-winter lawn care measures to make sure the grass makes it through the cold.
- Right time for the last mow – While the timing of the last mow depends on climatic conditions, your soil type and the species of grass growing on your lawn, the period between October and early December is the perfect time for the last mow. It’s the time when the last few colorful autumn leaves fall to the ground.
To determine the right timing, you need to consider two things. The growth rate of grass and the first frost. When the temperature drops, grass grows at a significantly slower rate. Once that happens, you’ll have to use the mower a couple of mower times before you store it away for winter.
Moreover, if you have harsh winters and grow cool-season grasses, the first frost is the determining cutoff point. Check the climate report in your region to know the timing of the first frost. You need to mow your lawn two or three times before that date.
However, if you have warm-season grass growing on your lawn, the last cut won’t extend till early winter. It would be during late fall. But if your area experiences sudden warm spells during late fall and early winter, the grass may come out of hibernation, and you may have to mow it one more time. You need to mow your lawn till the grass keeps growing.
- Height of grass for the last mow – Just because you mow your grass less frequently before the last mow, it doesn’t mean that you can write off any trimming practices. You need to lower the height of the grass gradually on the last two to three cuts by one inch each time. While short grass may be good before the winter, you should never go beyond the recommended safe height for your grass type.
If you cut it too short too quickly, you may kill the grass and have bare patches during the winter season. If you have cool-season grass, the grass will grow about an inch after the last mowing session. That’s why you need to take that into account when you trim your lawn. Check out the following recommended height for the last mowing session for cool-season grass:
- Tall fescue – 2 to 3.5 inches
- Kentucky Bluegrass – 2 to 3.5 inches
- Perennial ryegrass – 1.5 to 2.5 inches
- Fine fescue – 2.5 inches
For warm-season grass, you don’t have to worry about a spurt of growth in the dead of the winter. They don’t require as chilly temperatures as cool-season grass to go dormant and stay that way even if your region is hit by a sudden warm spell in early winter. That’s why you can cut them to the following recommended height during the last mow:
- Zoysia – 1 to 2.5 inches
- Augustine – 2.5 to 4 inches
- Bermuda Grass – 1.5 to 3 inches
- Centipede Grass – 1.5 to 2 inches
- Demerits of cutting your turf too short – Both cool and warm-season grass store carbohydrates to make it through the hibernation period. The food is stored in the crown that sits right above the ground. If you cut the blades too short, you risk damaging the crown and killing your turf. Even if you don’t reach the crown, cutting the grass too short, exposes the crown to freezing temperatures. This can cause a freeze burn.
Very short grass blades also have a hard time effectively using the last phase of growth to absorb the right amount of sunlight to make and store food. The gap created by short grass blades also allows weeds to absorb more sunlight and thrive while denying resources to the turf.
Moreover, cutting the grass too short, beyond the recommended height, forces the grass to tap into its reserves and use that food to retain its height. That guarantees annihilation of the turf when the frost hits.
- Demerits of leaving the grass too long – Leaving the grass blades too long is equally harmful. When the temperatures drop and snow hits the ground, the long blades buckle under the weight and get matted with other blades or to the ground. This restricts the airflow that is essential during the cold season.
When there is a lack of air and moisture from the snow is abundant, it creates the perfect environment for fungal growth. When the snow melts and spring arrives, you would be greeted by the dreaded pinkish-grey snow mold instead of thriving green grass blades.
By now you must realize that there are many factors you need to consider before knowing your lawn one last time before winter. Apart from the timing, you also need to consider the height, and cutting your grass in the winter has plenty of deterring demerits. Once you figure out the last time for mowing your lawn before winter, you can do it yourself or leave it to a professional. To do that, search for “landscape companies near me”.