Proper Mowing of Tall Fescue

One of the easiest ways to help promote a healthy lawn is to practice proper mowing habits. The ideal mowing height for Tall Fescue is 3.5-4 inches. As most homeowner lawn mowers do not cut higher than this, Virginia Green Lawn Care recommends always keeping the mower deck at the highest possible setting. Check the mowing height by placing a ruler in the lawn and measure the grass plants from the soil to the tip of the leaf blade after it is mowed.

Reasons to Not Mow Too Short:

  • Tall Fescue is a “bunch-type” grass
    • It cannot spread laterally
    • Mowing tall promotes a thicker lawn
  • Taller shoots equates to deeper roots
    • More leaf material results in better photosynthesis, allowing the plant to fully mature and drive more roots into the soil
  • A tall, thick lawn will help reduce weed competition

It’s also important to be sure the lawn mower has a sharp blade. Mowing with a dull blade will result in “torn” leaf blades. This causes the lawn to have a tan or brownish tint. It can also stress the grass plants, which may lead to further issues. Start each season with a freshly sharpened blade. Monitor the sharpness often and sharpen or replace the blade as needed.

Tall fescue is a cool-season grass. This means most of the growth occurs over the spring and fall months. Mowing frequency will need to increase during these times of the year. It’s important to mow often enough to ensure that no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed at one time. Cutting too much leaf material at once can damage the plant. Conversely, fescue will not be growing as rapidly during the summer. Therefore, mowing frequency should be reduced to an “as needed” basis at this time. Mowing too often in the summer can cause unnecessary stress that can damage the lawn.

Proper mowing of a tall fescue lawn is one of the most important, and easiest, ways to promote healthy turf. Be sure to set the mower deck at the highest setting, utilize a sharp mower blade, and practice proper mowing frequency depending on the time of year.