Regular mowing is crucial if you want to keep your lawn in check. But if you have been away on vacation or you have just moved into a new home and the previous owner didn’t look after the yard, you may be faced with extremely long grass. Sometimes, you may find that your lawn is growing much faster than normal and you are not able to keep on top of it. So, what do you do in this situation?
There are several ways to cut extremely tall grass but there are some important safety considerations you must make. This article will explain the different ways to cut the grass and give you some great tips to make sure that you’re doing it safely and effectively. Read on to learn how to tackle your out-of-control grass!
Why Is My Grass Growing So Fast?
Grass grows quickly for a few reasons and, in some cases, you may be able to slow it down.
The Species of Grass
Some types of grass just grow quicker than others. For example, Bermuda, Zoysia, or St. Augustine will grow much faster than slow varieties like Black Mondo. If you are starting a new lawn and you want a low-maintenance option, choosing slow growing grasses is best. However, if your lawn is already in place, knowing what type it is will help you determine why it is growing so quickly.
Your grass may be growing fast because it’s happy. If you get a fair amount of rain and lots of direct sunlight, you have the perfect conditions for growing grass and it will shoot up. There isn’t much you can do about this but you can take steps to mitigate the effects of the climate.
Choosing slow growing grass is the most obvious step. You should also limit the amount of fertilizer that you use because the grass doesn’t really need it as much. Reducing the amount of water you give it in the summer can help too. Just make sure you find a good balance so you don’t kill the lawn. You can also use a plant growth inhibitor as a last resort if you are struggling to stay on top of lawn maintenance.
Following these steps may help you slow grass growth, but you still need to know how to cut tall grass.
Is it Dangerous to Cut Tall Grass?
Cutting tall grass can be dangerous, so you need to use caution and a bit of common sense. It’s much easier for foreign objects to hide in tall grass and they could damage your mower or become a trip hazard. You’re more likely to get tangled or slip on tall grass too, especially on hills.
Before you cut the grass, take the time to search for any debris like rocks and branches. Proceed carefully and don’t rush the job and you can avoid any disasters.
What are the Advantages of Cutting Tall Grass?
You might take one look at your overgrown lawn and think, could I just leave it? You can if you like, but there are a lot of benefits to cutting it back.
In many places, having excessively long grass is a city violation and you can get a hefty fine. So, check the regulations with your local authority and make sure that you don’t get caught out. Beyond that, cutting your grass opens up the space for you to enjoy. It’s a safe space for your family to play, and your pets can use it too.
Long grass is a haven for bugs too. If you have extremely long grass in your yard, you’ll notice a big increase in pests around the home. If you are not careful, this could turn into a full-blown infestation. By cutting the grass, you make it harder for insects to nest and breed.
5 Ways to Cut Tall Grass
1. Weed Eater (String Trimmer)
A weed eater, also known as a string trimmer or strimmer, is a great way to quickly clear large areas of overgrown lawn. A weed eater has a thin nylon string that spins at high speeds, cutting through grass with ease. You can get a gas powered, corded electric, or battery powered weed eater.
It’s best to use one that doesn’t need to be plugged in so you have more flexibility. Once you get the hang of it, you can cut back your overgrown lawn in no time.
How to Cut Tall Grass with a Weed Eater?
When cutting grass with a weed eater, always keep the angle flat with the ground or you will get a messy cut. Move the weed eater side to side in a sweeping motion to cut the grass back.
When using a weed eater, it’s important that you don’t take off too much of the grass at once or you could do permanent damage and stop it from growing back properly. As a general rule, you should take off a third of the length at a time, then rake the grass and give it a few days before cutting it back again. Once the grass is short enough, you can finish it with a mower as normal.
2. Basic Lawn Mower
A lawn mower should be used for general maintenance but it is not always suitable for excessively long grass. However, if you have already used a weed eater to remove the bulk of the grass, you can use your lawnmower to finish the job.
Ideally, you should use a gas powered mower rather than an electric one because it has more power to tackle long grass.
How to Cut Tall Grass with a Basic Lawn Mower?
The same rule of thirds applies when using a lawn mower. If you cut the grass back too much, it won’t grow back properly and it can turn yellow. So, always put the lawn mower on the highest setting to start with. Leaving the grass with a bit of length in it will make it healthier.
You may find that the lawn doesn’t look great when you cut it right back. This is very normal and you may need to scarify the lawn to remove weeds and moss that have grown while the lawn was left to its own devices. Use a garden rake and move in one direction, gently pulling away the weeds and moss.
All of the dead brown thatch at the base of the grass will be removed, leaving a nice green lawn. Then, you just need to let it grow through for a week or two and it will look good as new.
A scythe may seem like an old fashioned tool, but it’s actually one of the most effective ways to cut tall grass by hand. If you haven’t seen one before, it’s a long pole around 6 feet long with a curved blade on the end.
Although it can take a bit of practice to master the technique, it’s very effective once you get the hang of it. You can get a great scythe and grinding stone set online for a reasonable price if you want to try this method.
How to Cut Tall Grass with a Scythe?
To cut your grass with a scythe, bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. The back of the blade sits flat on the ground and the blade naturally angles upwards towards the grass. Move the scythe in a semi-circle motion to cut through the grass. Repeat this motion while slowly moving forward across the grass.
When using a scythe, it shouldn’t cut the grass too low. If you find that it is cutting it very close to the ground, you don’t have the angle quite right and you need to adjust the way that you hold the scythe slightly. Don’t worry if you don’t master it right away, you’ll get it with a bit of practice.
4. Riding Lawn Mower
A riding lawn mower is the easy option, especially if you have a large lawn that would take a long time to cut with a scythe or a weed eater. Most riding lawn mowers are designed to cut grass up to a length of around 8 inches. If your grass is taller than this, you should use a scythe or weed eater to cut it back a bit before you mow it.
How to Cut Tall Grass with a Riding Lawn Mower?
When using a riding lawn mower for tall grass, make sure that you set it to the highest setting. You may need to mow it a few times over the course of a week and lower the height slightly each time.
Start in the corner of the grass and mow in straight lines up and down the lawn. You should vary the mowing pattern each time you use a riding lawn mower. It’s crucial that you keep the blades sharp or you will scalp the grass. This is when the blades pull it out instead of cutting through it, so you end up with a patchy mess.
A sickle is like a smaller scythe that is used for cutting away small areas of making walkways and paths through the lawn. It’s not the best choice for cutting a big lawn, but if you only have a limited area to cover, it’s a good option.
The blade on a sickle is the same shape as a scythe, but it has a short handle and is used in one hand instead.
How to Cut Tall Grass with a Sickle?
To cut the grass with a sickle, hold it pointing towards the ground like a golf club, with the blade facing away from you. Use a backhand stroke so the blade moves away from your body as it cuts through the grass. It is a good idea to cut the borders of the area you want to clear first, and you can then move through and cut the bulk of the grass away.
When using a sickle on extremely long grass, it’s best to go over a few times, taking away a section at a time. If you try to cut back the full length of the grass in one pass, you won’t have as much control and the lawn will look messy.
What if the Land Needs Proper Clearing?
If your lawn is overgrown and there are a lot of weeds and dead patches everywhere, you might decide to clear it altogether and start again. You could plant a new lawn or even put a patio area or some decking down instead.
In order to clear the land, you will need to strip back all of the grass and weeds, level the ground, and maybe even remove some old trees. You will need a heavy-duty mower and a range of hand tools to finish the job. You can find all of the guidance you need in our guide to land clearing tools.
Can You Cut Tall Grass with a Reel Mower?
Reel mowers rely on your hard work rather than an electric or gas motor to turn the blades, so they’re not ideal for long grass. The tall grass will easily get caught up in the mower blades and it will stop turning properly. Unless you want to stop and empty it out every 5 seconds, you need to cut back some of the length first.
Use a weed eater or scythe to reduce the length first and then you can use your reel mower to finish the job.
Can You Cut Tall Grass with a Zero Turn Mower?
Zero turn mowers are excellent for cutting your grass short and neat. You’ll get a golf course finish and they are good for getting into awkward spaces. However, they only work well on lawns that are 6 inches or shorter.
What is the Difference Between a Scythe and a Sickle?
The blades on a scythe and a sickle are very similar, but the handles differ greatly. A scythe has a longer handle of around 6 feet and is operated with two hands. A sickle has a small handle and is used with a single hand. Scythes are best for clearing large areas of grass while sickles are best suited to small patches of grass and cutting pathways.
Tips for Cutting Tall Grass by Hand:
There are a few precautions you should take if you want to cut long grass safely and do an efficient job.
Maintain Your Tools
You will make life a lot easier for yourself if you maintain your tools. Long, thick grass doesn’t cut easily with a blunt blade and if you don’t use sharp tools, you will rip the grass instead of cutting it. This makes the job tougher, the grass will look messier, and it won’t grow back as nicely either.
So, whether you are using a scythe or a mower, make sure that you sharpen the blades. If you are using a weed eater, check the nylon cord for damage and replace it, if necessary.
Wear Protective Clothing
Protective clothing like gloves and glasses are important when using big tools. You may get a lot of debris flying around when cutting tall grass, so safety glasses are useful. Gloves will stop your hands from getting sore when using a scythe too.
Check the Area First
Make sure that you check the area thoroughly before you start. Ensure that there are no people or pets nearby before you start cutting the grass. Dogs can easily hide in the long grass and be injured. Check for rocks and branches in the long grass too because these can damage your tools and become a trip hazard. Only once you are sure that the area is completely clear should you start cutting the lawn.
Take Regular Breaks
Finally, take regular breaks. Using hand tools to cut long grass is hard work, especially on a hot day. Take a break every now and again and drink plenty of water to make sure that you don’t overheat.
How Can You Cut Tall Grass Plants?
Plants that have grown up in the tall grass can cause problems because they’re much thicker and more difficult to cut through. The best way to tackle them is to use hand tools like a sickle or some shears to remove them first. You can then cut through the rest of the grass without getting caught up in the woody stems of plants.
Can I Just Hire Someone to Cut my Tall Grass?
Like any DIY job, you can just hire someone to cut your tall grass for you. A landscaper will happily take care of it for you and restore your lawn to its former beauty. If you are not confident in your ability to deal with tall grass, hiring a professional might be the best choice. However, if you’re looking to save some money, you can follow the tips above to cut your own grass.
What Height Should I Cut My Tall Grass?
Cutting grass too short will lead to yellowing and dead patches. This is also a danger if you cut long grass right back immediately. So, always follow the thirds rule and cut long grass in stages. You should aim to leave it at around 2 inches. Having it slightly longer provides more shade to the ground underneath, which slows down weed growth and helps the grass retain more water.
The best way to deal with long grass is to avoid letting it get that long in the first place. Regular mowing will keep it in check and help you avoid this issue. But if it is out of control already, the easiest thing to do is get a weed eater to take away the majority of the length and then finish it off with your mower. Always remember that you should cut the grass in stages to keep it healthy and avoid yellowing.
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.