Keeping your lawn beautiful can be a serious challenge, especially when you’re headed into fall and winter.
Knowing when to stop mowing your lawn is critical for keeping the grass healthy.
Of course, some climates might require to mow year-round, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to season changes.
Instead, that just means that you should change your mowing schedule to match the season.
Don’t worry, even though this guide is focused on when to stop mowing in the fall, we’ll also cover some of the changes to look for if you need to mow year-round.
In this Guide You’ll Learn:
- When you should stop mowing in the fall
- How to prepare your lawn for winter
- And Much More!
Why Should You Stop Mowing Your Lawn In The Fall?
The biggest reason you should stop mowing in the fall is that your lawn doesn’t need it! At least, your lawn doesn’t need to be mowed if you’re living in a state where cool-season grasses grow and go dormant over the winter.
That’s because at some point in the fall your grass will recognize that it’s getting cold, and will start sending all of its energy and nutrients into storage in the roots.
Continuing to mow past this point will just stress the leaves while they’re still green, and ultimately can cause damage to your lawn. Instead of mowing, this is a good time to switch to mulching leaves and other maintenance.
Ultimately, continuing to mow your lawn too late into the fall causes unnecessary stress. If your lawn is healthy you may not notice a difference in the spring when your grass starts growing again. However, if your lawn is already stressed and struggling you’ll likely notice increased patchiness and poor growth in early spring if you mow too late in the fall.
Looking to winterize your lawn? Here’s a quick video guide for how:
What Happens If You Stop Mowing Too Early?
If you stop mowing your lawn too early you may be worried you’ve damaged your lawn. Fortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. If your grass starts growing again after you’ve stopped mowing your lawn, just start mowing again! You may need to re-mulch your falling leaves, but that isn’t too much of a chore.
However, if you let the grass continue growing without mowing it back, you’re risking diseases, dieback, and lawn pests moving in before winter.
How Can You Tell It’s Time To Stop Mowing In The Fall?
Like most lawn care tips, deciding when you should stop mowing in the fall depends on understanding your grass. You’ll need to pay close attention to its growth and overall health to get this exactly right.
Don’t worry though, I’ll teach you everything you need to know.
Read More: >> The Best Lawn Mowers for Bermuda Grass
Pay Attention to Growth
Your grass grows at different rates throughout the year. Water and sunlight are two important factors, but the length of the day and the temperature can also change grass growth rates quite a bit.
Growth should be fastest in late spring and summer for most cool-season grasses, though some will slow down in the middle of summer when it’s hottest. Even some warm-season grasses (which are important to mix in in the transition zone), will have slower growth in the hottest part of summer.
Not sure what kind of grass you’re working with? This growing hardiness map of the US should help you figure it out. Blue areas support cool-season grasses, red areas support warm-season grasses, and the band in-between is mostly the transition zone where you can use one or the other, or a combination of both.
It’s mostly the northern and middle parts of the United States that need to worry about stopping mowing in the fall. Southern states have longer growing seasons and may not have a dormant season depending on what kind of grass you’re growing.
When your grass stops growing in the fall it’s time to stop mowing your lawn and switch to other maintenance. Don’t be fooled by the summer slow down, you’ve still got mowing to do until the temperature starts to cool off.
Read More: >> How To Mow Your Lawn Like A Professional?
Temperature Can Be A Clue
Another important signal is the temperature outside. Even if your grass hasn’t quite reacted to the temperature, you can anticipate that it’s time to stop mowing when the temperature is regularly 45 degrees or below.
This is the temperature that most cold hardy grasses will start preparing for winter and going dormant, though most cold season grasses will stay green for a little longer, until your first hard-freeze.
Looking to learn more about cool season grasses and how to manage your lawn? This guide to cool-season grasses does a good job of going over the basics.
Different cultivars do have slightly different temperature cues. Some will last a little longer, while others will start to go dormant as early as 50 degrees.
Watch for Lawn Thinning
One thing that often gets overlooked is that your lawn will likely thin out slightly as it’s starting to go dormant. This is a sure sign that it’s time to stop mowing in the fall because it means that your grass has already stopped growing.
This thinning is perfectly natural, don’t worry. It’s just the gradual dieback of your grass’s leaves as it stops growing and goes dormant. It’s subtle, but if you notice some lawn thinning in the fall it’s time to start preparing your lawn for winter!
If you live in an area with a lot of deciduous trees, watch for changing leaf color and especially falling leaves. Falling leaves are a good indicator that your local plants are going dormant. Since trees tend to hold on to their leaves as long as possible, falling leaves are a reliable sign that your lawn is about to go dormant. Plus, mulching the falling leaves is great for your lawn and can help keep your grass healthy!
Not sure how to mulch your fallen leaves? This guide will show you how.
How To Get Your Lawn Ready To Stop Mowing
Once it’s time to stop mowing your lawn in the fall, you should also prepare your lawn for the new season.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Some grasses benefit from a late fall fertilization. However, it’s important to check and see if your grass is one of them since over fertilizing your lawn can cause problems in the spring.
Fertilize at least 1-2 weeks before you stop mowing and watering your lawn. That gives the fertilizer a little time to get into the ground before it freezes.
Read More: >> How Long Does It Take For Fertilizer To Start Working?
Mow Your Lawn Short
After you’ve fertilized (or know that you don’t have to) the next step is mowing your grass short. Most grasses can be mown as low as 2 inches safely, and doing so helps prevent diseases through the winter.
Shorter grass also helps to deter pests like voles, and helps prevent winter-kill in the months leading up to spring.
Mulch Falling Leaves
If you’re getting a lot of falling leaves in your lawn, you might want to use your lawn mower to mulch them and spread across the lawn. The leaves will help protect the roots of your lawn over the winter. They also become cheap fertilizer in the spring when your grass is ready to start growing.
Plus, mulching your leaves saves money on lawn clipping disposal, and can keep your lawn looking well-kept much later into fall.
If your lawn is due for aeration, the end of the growing season can be a great time. Aerating in the late summer and early fall gives your grass a little time to recover before it goes dormant for the winter.
It also gives the soil some time to settle and really benefit from the aeration by the growing seasons next spring.
Winterize Your Hoses and Spigot
Lastly, to prep for the winter you should make sure your pipes are protected from freezing. Detatch your hoses from the pipes and close them for the winter after you’ve watered your lawn for the last time in the fall.
Next, make sure you’ve completely drained your hoses. Ideally you should give them a couple of hours to drain before coiling them to store for the winter.
Winterizing your watering equipment will help prevent replacement costs if water freezes in the pipes and hoses before spring.
My Final Thoughts On Stopping Mowing Your Lawn In The Fall
Getting your lawn ready for fall and winter might not be very difficult, but it is very important. Keeping your lawn healthy through the winter depends on preparing it for the cold. Otherwise you’re likely going to need to do damage control for your lawn in the spring.
Taking a little extra time to make sure you get your lawn well prepared will save you a lot of time in the growing season.
So, take the time now and reap the rewards of your efforts next year!