Lawn Mower Height Settings | What’s The Best Mowing Height For Lawn Grass?

Mowing is essential to maintaining a lush and green lawn because it stimulates the growth of the grass, causing it to become denser and lusher after each cut. Furthermore, it prevents weeds from growing and makes the lawn more robust. 

However, as with anything, people have their doubts, and one of the most typical concerns voiced by individuals who have only recently begun cutting grass is: “What is the best mowing height for lawn grass, and how low is too low?”

In this article, let’s talk about lawn mower height settings.

lawn mower height settings

Regular mowing at the right height will encourage healthy grass growth and keep it looking lush green.

To get the most out of your lawn, it is essential to have a working knowledge of its ideal height settings as well as the correct way to adjust the mower deck. For instance, short grass sometimes has a great look, but it is more susceptible to weed invasion and is typically less hardy than longer grass.

So, sometimes when the appearance of your grass is a bit off, you might need to raise the cutting height of your lawn mower. 

The first step in adjusting the height settings on your mower is to read the user manual. Once you understand how to alter the settings according to the manual, place your lawn mower on a flat surface.

Then, adjust each tire’s wheel-adjustment lever one notch toward the rear of the mower. If you slide the lever toward the front of the mower, the height of the mower will lower. Next, adjust the lever as many notches as necessary to achieve the desired cutting height. 

That said, there is much more to a lawn mower’s height settings. Continue reading to find out!

Always Mow 3 Inches Taller

lawn mower height settings

Always mow high. Mowing too short or scalping causes stress to the grass plants.

If you want your grass to look its best, aim for a mowing height of around three inches as a general rule of thumb. Moreover, when you mow the grass, you should keep your cuts to no more than the top third of the blade of grass at any given time. 

In other words, if you want the grass to be three inches tall, you should mow it when it’s around four inches tall—making this one simple adjustment will result in a significant improvement to the grass’s general health and attractiveness. 

Keeping the grass at the height of three inches or longer will protect it from illness, encourage it to send out roots that dig deeper, help it conserve water, increase the turf’s density and color, and prevent scalping of your lawn.

Here are the benefits of mowing 3-inch tall explained in a bit more detail:

Mowing Tall Reduces Fertilizer Needs

Increasing the height of your 1000 square feet lawn by as little as 1/8 of an inch will result in an additional surface area of approximately 300 square feet that your grass can use to harvest energy. To put it another way, the cost of fertilizing your grass won’t be as high as it would otherwise be.

Mowing Tall Reduces Pests & Diseases

The longer the grass, the healthier it is, and the more resistant it is to diseases and pest problems. In addition, tall grass can act as a habitat for insect species that help reduce the number of harmful insects found in the areas.

Mowing Tall Reduces Water Loss

When the height of the grass is maintained at around three inches, it can produce both grass blades and roots simultaneously and quickly. The deep roots help your grass absorb more water, and long grass blades reduce the amount of moisture lost through evaporation.

Mowing Tall Reduces Weeds

The longer blades of grass provide a thicker shadow, which helps block light from reaching weeds. As a result, weed seeds can’t germinate, so you won’t have to worry about those pesky plants taking hold in your otherwise pristine grass.

Tall Grass Reduces Mowing Needs

When you intend to keep your grass tall, you won’t have to mow it as frequently. 

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But, Why Are There So Many Short Lawns?

Short lawns

Certain grasses are used on golf courses that allow for exceptionally low mowing.

You must be asking yourself, if it is preferable to let your grass grow to a reasonable height, then why do so many people choose to take the other approach and cut their lawns too short? There are a variety of explanations, some of which are:

People Love Golf

Many people think that if they trim their lawns in the same manner as golf course owners do, their grass will have the same neat look and beautiful shade of green. 

Well, this is not true! It is a terrible idea because most residential properties have lawns with grass species that cannot flourish when cut to a near-ground height. 

Keeping the grass on golf courses mowed to such a short length requires using certain types of grass, which are usually unavailable to most homeowners.

Confusion With Mower Height Settings

Many homeowners incorrectly believe that the medium height setting on their mower machine is the best one. I mean, shouldn’t you just pick a height somewhere in the middle if you don’t know the correct setting? WRONG!  

In most cases, the highest setting will be the one that works best for your grass. To maintain a healthy lawn, you should always set your mower to its maximum setting or keep the length of your grass cuttings at a minimum of three inches.

Also, keep in mind that the numbers you see on the settings of the mower, assuming it has numbers, do not correspond to the height at which the grass is cut. 

Personal Preference

Some individuals believe that a lawn cut in a short setting looks more aesthetically pleasing than a lawn cut taller. Obviously, this is a matter of personal opinion, and what could be appealing to one homeowner might not appeal to another. 

However, it is also true that short grass will often have a detrimental impact on the health of your grass. And, it will also most likely lack the desirable green color we all want.

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How Often Should You Mow Your Grass?

How Often Should You Mow Your Grass?

Lawns should be mowed every second week in the summer and every two to five weeks from fall to winter.

Several different factors determine the frequency of mowing. These factors include the amount of rainfall, the kind of soil, the type of grass, and the fertilization.

You can increase the number of times you mow your lawn during the peak growing season to as often as every two or three days if you want to have very closely cropped grass. 

However, as a general rule, you should trim your lawn once the grass has grown a bit tall to a height higher than the height to which it was previously mowed.

Choose Mower Height According To Your Grass

There is a “perfect” cutting height for each type of grass. So forget about the notion that if you cut the grass shorter each time you do it, you’ll have to do it less frequently overall. 

However, if you allow your grass to grow too long between trims, you risk establishing an environment suitable for insects and lawn pests

Ideal mowing heights depend on the type of grass, and even varieties of the same grass might have vastly varied ideal cutting heights. 

Nevertheless, here are ideal mowing heights for some of the most common lawn grasses used in the United States and the rest of North America.

Grass TypeIdeal Mowing Height (Inches)
Bahia2.5 to 41.5 to 4
Bermuda0.5 to 2.50.75 to 3.5
Buffalo1.5 to 4
Centipede1 to 2.5
Fine fescue1.5 to 4
Kentucky bluegrass0.75 to 3.5
Perennial ryegrass0.75 to 2.5
St. Augustine1 to 3
Tall fescue1.5 to 4
Zoysia0.5 to 3

Now, let’s look at how you can change the height settings on your lawn mower.

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How To Adjust Height Settings On Your Mower?

Adjust lawn height

Higher-end lawn mowers have a lever that can be used to adjust the mowing deck height.

The precise steps that need to be taken in order to adjust the setting on your mower will be different depending on the brand and model that you have. If you have a mower that is relatively affordable or is considered an entry-level model, the process for adjusting the height of the cutting deck will likely be very simple. 

If you have a more expensive model, making adjustments will be even more straightforward and less time-consuming. Nevertheless, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when changing the height settings on your lawn mower, regardless of whether it is a self-propelled mower or a push mower.

Put Mower On A Flat Surface

Ensure your mower is resting on a level surface and the engine is turned off; if your mower is electric, make sure the plug is removed. If it has already been operating, you need to wait until the engine has thoroughly cooled down before setting the height. If your mower runs on gas, you must also take out the spark plug boot.

Entry-Level Mowers Have Axle Adjustment

Axle adjustment is one of the simplest and most fundamental types of height adjustment. With this approach, you will manually remove the wheels and adjust their setting to a higher or lower level. In most cases, this will also include a snap-in system. 

If you have a very basic or entry-level mower, the height adjustment mechanism you employ will most likely look something like this.

Higher-End Models Have Lever Adjustment

This system is commonly referred to as the “central single lever height adjustment system.” If you own a riding mower or a high-end model, you may find that it only has a single lever to operate the entire system.

This is a simple mechanism that just requires the use of one lever to raise or lower the deck. You should be able to locate the lever on one side of the machine, typically in close proximity to the axle.

Some Rotary Mowers Have Individual Wheel Levers

The mower deck on my Honda self-propelled mower includes this type of adjustment, and I find it to be quite simple and straightforward to use. With this approach, every single wheel on the mower is controlled by its own distinct lever, which you will use to adjust the height of your lawn mower to the desired level.

When In Doubt Mow High!

You might believe that if you keep on top of your lawn mowing responsibilities and mow your lawn on a regular basis, it immediately makes you an excellent turf curator.

However, as you should realize by now, there is such a thing called “cutting your grass too short,” and doing so can do more harm than good to your lawn. 

Therefore, when uncertain regarding the height at which you should cut your grass, simply adjust the cutting height on your lawn mower to its highest setting and cut away.

In addition, if you want to use your lawn mower effectively, you need to be familiar with both the model of your mower and the mechanism by which the height settings are adjusted. 

You may better understand how the height settings on your mower operate and how to alter them by reading the manual that came with it. Following that, you will be able to modify your mower such that it produces the healthiest grass possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the height numbers on a lawn mower mean?

Your lawnmower may have numbers or letters written on it, such as “1, 2, 3, 4” or “a, b, and c.” These figures don’t always translate to one inch, two inches, or three inches. To learn what those numbers indicate, consult the user manual that came with the mower.

What is the best time of day to mow the lawn?

A well-timed cut can do wonders for your lawn if your schedule is somewhat flexible. If possible, cut the grass on your lawn in the middle of the morning, when it is already dry. In any other case, you should mow the lawn in the late afternoon, after 4 o’clock.

What is the lowest cutting height of lawn mowers?

Lawn mowers can cut as low as a few millimeters. For instance, professional cylinder lawn mowers can typically mow grass as short as 3 mm and as long as 40 mm. They are designed specifically for cricket creases and bowling greens.

Is it better to cut the grass short or long?

The grass plants become stressed after extremely short mowing or scalping. However, allowing your grass to grow too long is also not a good idea because it might give bugs and pests places to hide. Instead, keep your grass at moderate heights and search for the ideal mowing height for your grass online.

Why shouldn’t you mow your lawn every week?

If you mow your lawn once a week, you risk scalping your grass, which can place additional strain on the grass plants. In addition, if you cut your lawn too frequently, there will be nothing left for the bees and other helpful insects to feed on.

Sources For Further Reading

Lawn mower tune-up – University of Delaware

Lawn Mower Care and Safety – University of Florida

Mowers and mowing safety – University of Minnesota Extension

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