Lawn etiquette is a mix of best practices and respectful behaviors, and unless your home is in a rural area and your neighbors aren’t next door or across the street, certain aspects of how you mow the lawn have an effect on who you live around (and how they mow the lawn, in turn, affects you). The frequency and time of day matter when deciding on your mowing schedule, not only for the healthiest grass but also to be a good neighbor.
In This Article
A Neighborly Schedule
Cutting the grass at least once a week is one of the best ways to keep your turf healthy, and it also keeps the lawn looking good and free from hazards associated with the overgrowth of grass and weeds. When it comes to noise from lawn mowers, cutting the grass late enough to not wake anyone but early enough to avoid the hot midday sun is best.
If you wait until the evening, it’s best to avoid cutting the grass after dark, but the late afternoon (just before dusk) is a great time to give the lawn a trim, as most people aren’t asleep yet but temperatures are favorable.
Why It’s So Important To Keep Grass Trimmed And Healthy
Aside from the fact that regular maintenance is a lot less work than fixing an overgrown lawn, not mowing frequently enough can both affect the grass’ health and lead to hazards for you and for neighboring properties.
It takes an extra effort to mow a lawn that has gone too long without being cut. Your mower’s bag is filled more quickly with all the extra lawn clippings, or there’s a chance the grass clippings will be too much if you leave them in place.
Thatch on overgrown lawns gets to be a lot thicker, which can prevent fertilizers, herbicides, and even water from reaching the ground evenly. This can then lead to thin grass and compacted soil, but a real problem develops when the lack of airflow and abundant shade at ground level allows fungus, insects, or animals to live in the grass.
Some of the neighborly reasons to keep your lawn from overgrowing include:
- Pests and grass diseases can take hold and spread into neighboring yards – Snakes, raccoons, and insects of all kinds pose a hazard to neighbors, children, and pets that like to play in the yard, garden, or in adjacent yards.
- Grass that isn’t well maintained can spread its seeds or runners into nearby properties – One neighbor may have a Bermuda lawn, another St. Augustine, and another with some fescue. These all act differently, and if one or another spreads to a nearby lawn, the grass becomes a weed that someone has to deal with removing.
- Neatness is just the neighborly thing to do – To decrease the problems mentioned above from happening to any of us, the best thing we can do is maintain our yards to set an example, encourage standards, and hope that our neighbors will do the same. If you have elderly neighbors who may need help and you enjoy yard work as much as we do, offering to keep their lawn trimmed may be a great help to them.
Truly unruly yards may grow over the sidewalk or become blockages in street drains, and when they’re hazardous and a public nuisance, overgrown lawns become city or county violations and begin to incur fines.
Nature is aggressive if not properly maintained, and taking care of the vegetation and wildlife on your property is one of the many responsibilities that come with homeownership. When everyone does their part on their own parcel, it contributes to a healthy and well-maintained neighborhood.
Mowing Height Matters
Knowing the right grass height for the species in your yard is the first step towards keeping it healthy and looking its best. If a certain type of grass is cut too low for its species, it will weaken quickly from too much sun and dehydration.
If any grass is left to grow too high, the problems we’ve discussed can start to develop since the tall blades provide cover, moisture, and a tiered ecosystem of pests and food sources that gets more complex the more overgrown a lawn becomes. We’ll look at the proper height to cut different species of grass and what height to cut them down to below.
What Is The 1/3 Rule In Mowing?
When you’re deciding how low to cut the grass, you have to consider both its species and remember the 1/3 rule: don’t cut more than a third of the grass off; otherwise, it will be too short to perform photosynthesis or to shade the base of the blades and ground surface from the hot sun. Some warm-season grasses can be cut a bit shorter, however.
- Bermuda grass – Cut when it reaches 3 inches down to 1.5 or 2
- Zoysia – Cut from 2 inches to 1 or 1.5
- Buffalograss – Cut when it reaches 3 inches down to 1.5 or 2 inches
- St. Augustine – Cut from 5 or 6 inches to 3.5 or 4 inches
- Kentucky bluegrass – Cut from 3.5 inches to 2
- Ryegrass – Cut when it reaches 3 inches, down to 2 inches
What Is An Acceptable Time To Mow The Lawn?
For your neighbors and your grass, the best times of the day to mow your lawn are late morning between 8 and 10, when most people are awake and starting their day, or early evening between 5 and 8, finishing before the sun is down.
This is to keep the noise to reasonable hours of the day while also not stressing your grass in the midday sun. Not only is this the hottest time, but it’s also when your grass is performing the most photosynthesis.
Grass rests at night and uses the energy its blades absorb, create, and store throughout the day to repair from daily stress and to grow. When you cut the grass in the morning, the grass is well-rested and strong from a rejuvenating night, and when you cut the grass in the evening, it has had a full day of energy storage to rest and repair overnight.
It’s not always possible to keep to these preferable times, however, so if you need to cut the lawn during the day (like many lawncare services have to do), it’s better than letting the lawn start to overgrow and become a problem for you and your neighbors.