Everybody is preparing for winter, and so should you. It is best to take care of your garden or lawn a few weeks before winter starts. One of your key responsibilities for winter preparations is mowing the lawn, should you keep your grass long or cut it short?
First of all, it is not advised to mow during winter, especially if the grass is wet or frosty, as this can be very damaging to the grass. Make sure you mow before winter starts or you might hurt the health of your overall lawn. You can read my full article Can You Mow Frozen Grass? here to learn all you need to know.
However, there is somehow a debate on whether or not to cut your grass in preparation for winter. Some say you should; others would want to keep it a bit longer to ‘protect’ the roots from the snow.
In this article, we don’t only clear out the answer to that debate. We also give you the reasons to cut it, explain how short should your grass be trimmed, and other lawn care tips in preparation for winter.
How Short to Cut Grass Before Winter?
The ideal length to cut your grass before winter is between 2.5 – 3 inches long. Maintaining this length throughout the year will keep your lawn healthy during and after winter.
Cutting your grass too short leaves the grass hungry. This is because it will tend to keep on consuming the nutrients that it has left on its blade while also trying to make up for the lack of height. Instead of focusing on keeping nutrients over the winter while it maintains in a dormant phase, the nutrients will now be diverted to making it grow at its ideal height.
This will be at the expense of the roots that are trying to hold still while keeping the grass alive and away from weeds and other insects.
Also, remember that your grass’s height also supports its root systems. Cutting the grass shorter than the suggested height could mean a stunted root growth. Hence, weakening the root system and its ability to absorb and distribute nutrients to the rest of the grass. That is why it is important to maintain a “regular” grasses length throughout the year prior to winter months.
Is It Better to Leave Your Lawn Long or Short for Winter?
Leaving your grass too long or too short for winter is never good. It is highly recommended to keep your grass the same length during winter as you would have it cut during other seasons.
Your lawn should be trimmed all year round at regular intervals. Apply the ‘one-third’ rule in mowing, which means you should cut just one-third of your grass’ height at a time. This method is used to protect your lawn and keep it as healthy as possible. If your grass has grown excessively long and mowing a third of it doesn’t do justice, trim another third off and go from there. You want your grass long enough so you are not at risk for weed invasion but also short enough so mowing isn’t difficult.
Can Cutting Grass Before Winter Prevent Snow Mold?
If cutting grass too short can leave it malnourished, leaving the grass long over the long winter season will only increase the chances of snow mold. It would only make it susceptible to molds and other deceases that thrive in the damp grass.
This is why cutting the grass before winter can decrease the chances of snow mold.
What Is Snow Mold?
Snow mold is a common occurrence among yards, especially during winter. These fungi spread out and infect its host during cold weather, especially when it’s dark and damp. All of these characteristics are easily formed or achieved during the winter. When you don’t trim your grass before the snowfall, its excess height can catch the snow creating a dark and damp place for snow mold to thrive underneath it.
While others advise the use of fungicide during the winter to prevent snow mold, it can be counterproductive for some. In countries located in the Northern Hemisphere and those regions with high elevation, a fungicide can be useless.
Fungicides work for some but the extreme cold and long winter on these countries and regions because its chemical reaction is far lesser on cold soil compared to warmer, less damp soil during other seasons.
The immediate reaction to that would be to increase the amount of fungicide or choose a stronger, more persistent one to fight off the cold. But too many chemicals can also harm your soil. The danger is that no matter how much you apply or how strong it is, there’s a higher chance that it cannot react to fungus as it should be. It will stay on the soil and can cause damage to the grass crowns and roots.
It’s better to prevent snow mold naturally by trimming your grass in the recommended height rather than depend on harmful chemicals.
Other Lawn Care Tips Before the Winter
Another reason for snow mold and other lawn diseases during the winter includes organic materials being trapped under the snow.
Aside from mowing, you must remove any debris in your lawn. You can leave a small amount of grass clippings, however, if you leave too much you risk mold and feeding insects after the snow melts.
It is also advised to apply fertilizer during fall. There are so-called winterizers, like Jonathan Green & Sons Inc. Winter Survival Fall Fertilizer provides nutrients for your plants during the fall and keeps it nourished during dormancy in winter.
Limit lawn traffic before winter and even during the snowy season. Make sure that your walkways and pathways are cleared of snow so people won’t opt to walk on your lawn instead.
And when it starts to snow, and your lawn starts to turn brown, you don’t have to worry. Your grass is not dead. It’s just dormant. Dormancy is a lawn’s natural state in protecting itself from extreme weather while preserving its nutrients and distributing it to the most critical parts to make sure it can survive the winter and can be revived during spring. Depending on where you live and the type of grass you have, some will turn brown over winter, and others will remain green, don’t worry too much. If you want to know the difference between dormant dead vs dead grass click the here.
If you are wondering the best time to mow, before or after it rains read all about it by clicking here.
So, brace yourself during the winter season. Make sure you have an adjustable lawn mower so you can trim your grass with the suggested height. If you follow this rule, you would have fewer things to worry about this winter and revive during next spring.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.