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UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County
669 County Square Dr. Suite 100
Ventura CA 93003
Phone: 805.645.1451
Fax: 805.645.1474

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Lawn Mowing Heights

 
I like this topic because it gives me a chance to comment on one of my pet peeves. I see many lawns whose owners do not cut the grass at the right height. When turf grasses are cut too short, the grass is stressed, vigor is reduced, and the grass tends to die back creating bare spots. Weed seeds often take advantage of this cultural system and invade the lawn area. On the other hand, turf grass that is cut too long tends to get a shaggy look, begins to mat, and the grass near the soil is shaded out and turns pale yellow. When this lawn is cut properly, there will be pale yellow areas exposed, which may sunburn and die, or at least will take several days to recover.
 
Research at the University of California and other locations has shown that each type of lawn grass has an optimum cutting height, which results in a lawn which maintains its appearance and vigor. The chart below lists 10 grasses, giving the proper mowing heights and suggests when mowing needs to occur (note: ryegrass is number 7).
           
Proper Mowing Heights and Mowers for California Turfgrass
 
Grass Type
 
Climate Adaptation
 
Mower Setting (inch)
Mow when grass reaches this height (inch)
 
Mower Type
Bentgrass
cool
½ - 1
¾ - 1 ½
reel
Bermudagrass (common)
warm
1 – 1 ½
1 ½ - 2 ¼
reel or rotary
Bermudagrass (hybrid)
warm
½ - 1
¾ - 1 ½
reel
Buffalograss
warm
1 – 2
1 ½ - 3
rotary
Kentucky Bluegrass
cool
1 ½ - 2 ½
2 ¼ - 3 ¾
reel or rotary
Kikuyugrass
warm
1 – 1 ½
1 ½ - 2 ¼
reel or rotary
Perennial Ryegrass
cool
1 ½ - 2 ½
2 ¼ - 3 ¾
reel or rotary
Tall Fescue
cool
1 ½ - 3
2 ¼ - 4 ½
reel or rotary
St. Augustinegrass
warm
1 – 2
1 ½ - 3
rotary
Zoysiagrass
warm
½ - 1 ½
¾ - 2 ¼
reel or rotary