How to Tame Tall Grass

Get Your Overgrown Lawn Back to its Correct Mowing Height

Have you ever gone on summer vacation to return to a garden that’s become a jungle, featuring a wild lawn?

Sometimes you don’t even need to go on vacation - you just get too busy and miss a week mowing. All it takes are a couple of decent rains while you’re not looking and a lawn will outpace you. It’s happened to all of us.


Here’s What to do if Your Grass Gets Really Tall

tall grassBy “really tall”, we mean double what it should be or more. For example, if you have a Zoysia lawn that you diligently keep at 1.5 inches tall but it’s grown to 5” tall (gasp!), don’t panic!

Follow these steps for too-tall lawns:

  1. Sharpen up: Make sure your mower blades are sharp. This first step is important. Sharp blades give a clean cut and reduce stress.
  2. Follow the rule of thirds: Keep in mind our mowing maxim and never mow off more than 1/3 of a grass blade at a time.
  3. Adjust your mower: That 1/3 rule means to fix your overgrown lawn, you’ll have to set your cutting height higher than usual. Most mowers can accommodate a maximum cutting height of 3.75” to 4”.
  4. Mow off 1/3: Using the example above, if the lawn is 5” tall, raise your cutting height so the mower takes off only 1.5 inches of grass. That will put your lawn at 3.5 inches tall.
  5. Bag your clippings: If you usually leave your clippings on the lawn so that they can provide nutrients back into the soil, you need to skip that until you make it to Step 9. The long grass clippings will clump up and shade out your growing turf. Once you are back to a regular mowing height and schedule, you can resume mulching your clippings. 
  6. Wait 2-3 days: Allow a few days to let the grass recover and get over the surprise of having 1/3 of its foliage sliced off. It will regrow a little during this time. Don’t wait the normal interval you usually wait between mowing sessions.
  7. Mow off another 1/3: Adjust your mower cutting height and mow again. This should get you much closer to your end goal – in this case you will now be at 2.5” tall and close to your 1.5 inch target.
  8. Repeat one more time: Wait a few more days and mow again, this time resetting your mower to its normal setting.
  9. Resume regular mowing at the correct interval for your lawn.

With these 9 steps, you’ve tamed your tall grass. These tips apply to all lawns, both warm season and cool season.


Ways to Prevent Grass Getting Too Tall

Keep Up Good Habits

We blog a lot about good mowing habits and the benefits of sticking to them. Regular mowing at intervals suitable to your type of lawn is all it takes. Put mowing on your calendar or set alerts on your phone.

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Add Mowing to your Vacation Planning List

If you’re going on vacation, mow the day or even the night before you leave.

For lawns that grow slower such as Centipede (with a mowing interval of 10 to 14 days) or Zoysia (with a mowing interval of 7 to 10 days), this technique will work well for you.

With Bermuda and Tall Fescue, you’ll definitely have to follow the steps detailed above even if you mow the day before you leave. These rapid growers need to be mowed on 3 to 7 day intervals, depending on time of year and amount of water or rain.

Be Neighborly

Help your neighbor with mowingAn old-fashioned technique when you go out of town is to ask your neighbor to mow your lawn when they mow their lawn. This is what my former neighbor and I did. However, we had different types of grass so we would switch and use the mower that went with the lawn, rather than just keep mowing with our own mower.

Get a Robotic Lawn Mower

Robotic mower keeps going when you are on vacationRobots don't take vacations! Enjoy your time away and your robotic mower will cut your grass every day while you are gone.

The end game is lawn automation with robotic lawn mowers. With a robot, you can go on vacation and it will continue to mow every day, thereby keeping your lawn at the exact height you want it.

That’s a checkmate on your too-tall grass and one less thing to do when you get home from your vacay.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth 9 Steps of Cure

Weighing the 9 steps to fix the problem in one hand, with the 4 preventative measures in the other, save yourself some time and put the regular preventative mowing steps in place.


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