Mowing after Frost

lawnblissOctober 29, 2007

The last two nights we've had frost. This week is expected to be warmer (high 60s/low 40s). Is it OK to mow after it frosts for the first time? I was hoping to cut the lawn a little shorter in preparation for winter.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'd like to tag a related question on to this...why do y'all mow shorter in preparation for winter?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 2:24PM
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Common belief is that the longer grass can get matted down from the snow or foot traffic and possibly cause snow mold.

Back to my question...does anyone know if its too late to mow now?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 2:46PM
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My last mow last year was December 31st. So no, it's not too late to mow.

If you don't have a problem with snow mold you might want to maintain the current height for carbohydrate production, though.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 2:49PM
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jer213(5/6 IL)

What I've heard about cutting short: To make the plants focus on the roots rather than the foliage.

What I've heard and believe: Leave the grass long all year round for cool season grasses (usually as high as your mower will go) and you'll have a healthier lawn. Foliage length can sort of dictate root length/strength.

I'd still like to know about mowing after a frost, b/c my lawn's a bit shaggy after all the rain I had before the frost(s).

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 2:50PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Yes you can mow it after a frost jer213, will not hurt it at all. Mo. Go mow. Go mow now. BillHill

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 3:43PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Be sure every bit of the frost is thawed and gone before you attempt to mow, or you will have dead grass everywhere you go.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 5:55AM
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I mowed mine down to 2 inches last night and plan to go a little lower in prep for applying winterizer this weekend

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 6:40AM
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Thanks for the help everyone! I went ahead and mowed last night. I went down about a half an inch, to just over 2 inches. Looks great!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 9:02AM
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So... living in the same zone(Indiana)... y'all suggest I mow before winter, yep? Hope it's warm enough for me. I've got about 3 acres to get going on. Boy I miss the hot summer days of riding around getting the easy tan. I hate mowing with ear muffs!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 9:31AM
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I might try to sneak in one more mowing before winter. I was cutting at just over 3" through the summer and fall. My last cut (Tues this week) took it down to about 2.5". I'm debating going down another notch to just about 2". This is my first year with this lawn (new house) so I don't know what to expect from winter.

I'm keeping an eye on my healthier spots to see if they are still actively growing. If not, I'll just lay off and enjoy the holiday season!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 9:51AM
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There are differing opinions about whether or not to mow shorter before winter.

Someone here recently pointed out to me a video which recommended mowing short (2 inches) due to the possibility of matting over the winter. To support this argument, the video showed a lawn that had been severely neglected, and allowed to grow to a height of 6 inches the previous fall. Of course that lawn became matted! That does not prove that a well-maintained lawn cut at 3.25" would be subject to matting. I consider that video to be misleading.

At the other end of the spectrum is Purdue University, which has a very active and, as far as I know, well-respected turfgrass research program. Their web site says "DO NOT reduce the mowing height for the last few mowings" in November.

In between these two extremes, you can find other web sites either "for" or "against" or "in between". For example, Cornell University says "Make your last mowing cut about ½ to 1 inch lower than your normal mowing height to discourage matted grass and snow mold."

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to start an argument here. I just want to point out that there are many sources of conflicting information. When encountering conflicting information, we need to consider several sources (and critically evaluate the reliability of the sources) before deciding on the best course of action.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 8:57PM
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jeffcarr3(z7 Central VA)

During this time of year, the daylight hours are getting shorter. The temps are very cool at night and the grass remains wet longer into the day. If I leave my grass at the highest setting during this time of year, there are portions of the lawn that do not get a chance to dry out. The shorter cut gives the lawn a chance to dry. Now, when I say shorter, I still am cutting at almost 3 inches. Because of the angle of the sun, the northern portion of my lawn is shaded most of the day, and can remain damp. (Still only water once a week) So for me its not cutting shorter in prep for winter, its to help with any moisture problems.

I believe you should, however, cut your lawn one notch lower for your first cut of the spring to help encourage your lawn to begin growing.

As to cutting after a frost, it should not be a problem. Obviously, you need to wait until the grass is dry and no longer has any frost on it.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:04PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

I'll pass this linked schedule along for your perusal. Granted, it pertains to my general area, but most of the recommendations can ba applied elsewhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: NCSU's year-round schedule

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 5:57AM
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I might have an explanation.

It is recommended not to mow warm season grass real low in the winter in the transition zone because these grasses are not as adapted to the cold as cool season grasses. Cool season grasses on the other hand can tolerate it but it's not like they are ever going to be mowed at a half inch or whatever anyway. Google your grass type and variety plus the words "recommended cutting height". Some of the dwarf grasses can usually be kept a little lower, aroun 1.75-2" and the regular grasses are generally suggested to keep around 2.0-2.75, maybe 3"

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 9:01AM
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