How to Measure Lawn Mower Cutting Height

Everyone loves a beautifully cut, lush, healthy lawn. However, it can be difficult to know the correct height to cut your lovely lawn and how to set your mower blades just right to achieve that height.

Below you will find some tips and facts on how to properly gauge the height of your mower blades and what length different grass types should be cut.

What do the numbers mean on a lawn mower?

What do the numbers mean on a lawn mower

Often, a mower will have a set of numbers (1,2,3) or letters (a,b,c) on the wheel; these are known as the blade height gauge. These settings do not necessarily mean inches. You need to consult your owner’s manual to find out exactly what they mean.

One method of knowing precisely what height your mower is set at is to place it on a hard, flat surface such as a driveway or sidewalk. You must measure from the blade to the ground to determine the height your mower is set at.

When doing this, take safety precautionary measures first. Most mowers these days have an automatic shut-off switch if you are not touching the handle. However, it is wise to remove a spark plug before placing your hand under the mower’s deck to measure the height.

Once it is safe, open the door or trap and measure the blade to the ground. This will tell you the precise distance that your mower is set at. Now, depending on the type of grass you have will help you determine the proper height to set the mower.

How do I measure grass height?

There is a standard “Rule of Thumb” when it comes to the heights of your grasses depending on the season and type of grass. Generally speaking, during cool seasons – early spring and fall – you should maintain a height of 2 ½” to encourage root growth and prevent weed growth.

During late spring and summer, when the weather is warmer, grass should be kept at 3” to retain moisture and keep the color.

Here are the heights that some specific types of grasses like to be mowed at:

  • Tall fescue between 2 inches to 3 ½ inches
  • Kentucky bluegrass between 2 and 3 inches
  • Bermuda grass between 1 and 2 inches
  • Zoysia grass between 1 and 2 inches
  • Buffalo grass between 2 – 3 inches

When mowing, take no more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blade. If too much is taken off, this is called scalping and will cause grass root systems to weaken and weeds to grow rapidly.

There are many ways to measure lawn height. The simplest method is to take a measuring stick and measure from the ground to the surface of the grass blade. Do this multiple times throughout your lawn to get a good average. (This will also tell you where your grass grows slower or faster.)

If you prefer a more modern method of measurement, there are devices available for purchase that will measure the height of the grass blade accurately. These include electronic meters and probes.

Should lawn mower wheels be the same height?

Should lawn mower wheels be the same height

Deck pitch is very important. The wheels should be even from side to side. However, you want the front of your mower to be about ¾” lower than the rear end of the mower. On most lawnmowers, the settings will reflect the need for that height adjustment.

So, if you are using setting #3, you can adjust all of the lawn mower wheels to setting #3, and the mower should be good to go.

What height should a lawn mower be set at?

Often, the tallest setting on your mower will be 3”. So, remember this when adjusting your lawn mower height. Depending on what time of year you are mowing your yard, cool seasons, or warm seasons, determine what height your mower should be set.

As you have read in the earlier paragraphs, proper height is determined by the type of grass and time of year. Mowing your grass to the correct height will encourage deep root growth, retain moisture, prevent weeds, and keep your lawn looking healthy and green.


Author: Matt Hagens

Hi, I’m Matt the owner of Obsessed Lawn. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Learn more about me and find me on Facebook.