One of the best things about grass is that it grows quickly. But the draw is also the downfall, as one of the worst things about grass – is that it grows quickly!
Left alone, your lawn can easily spawn out of control. That’s why if you go on holiday in the warmer months or neglect your lawn when you first move in, you’ll most likely come face-to-face with a daunting meadow.
If you’re worried about damaging your lawn when you cut really long grass, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to manage overgrown grass in the best way.
Things You Should Know Before Cutting Tall Grass
1. It Can Take Longer Than a Day
While it may be tempting to get the job done and dusted, hacking off long grass all at once won’t do your lawn any favours. Since it stores a ton of nutrients in the long leaves, chopping them off can shock your grass and even kill it off completely.
Before you get started on your trimming project, make sure you’ve cleared your schedule for the next few days and the weather forecast is on your side.
The best time to cut long grass is during a dry period in spring.
2. Don’t Cut Long Grass in Winter
Generally, you can leave your lawn to its own devices during winter. As long as you’ve given it a final trim in late autumn, you shouldn’t need to cut it at all during the colder months.
If you’ve forgotten to cut your grass before winter, it’s best to wait until spring before getting the mower out. Cutting grass (especially tall grass) in cold conditions will leave it less likely to survive.
Since grass stops growing in winter, leaving it another few months won’t do much harm.
3. Your Lawnmower May Need Prepping
Cutting tall grass can put your lawnmower through stress. Most equipment can handle all sorts of grass lengths. But some may be a little more sensitive – especially electric devices.
If you need to cut a large patch of overgrown grass, try not to continuously mow for long periods. Lawnmowers can quickly overheat, so make sure you take regular breaks to let the mower rest.
Also, make sure your blades are nice and sharp. Clean-cut leaves are much more likely to recover than shredded ones.
4. Check for Debris First
It’s all too easy for stones, twigs and other objects to get lost in a meadow.
To protect your lawnmower and make it easier to cut, it’s a good idea to check for any debris that may be hiding in the shadows first.
Tools You Need For Cutting Long Grass
To cut overgrown grass in the best way, you’ll need:
- A string or blade trimmer, or a scythe
- A lawnmower
- A scarifying rake (optional)
Depending on how much revival your grass needs after the hefty cut, you may also need grass seed and a high-quality fertiliser.
How to Cut Very Long Grass – a Step by Step Guide
Once the prep work is done, it’s time to begin cutting your really long grass. Here’s a simple step by step guide to help you get the best results.
1. Skim the Top Layer
It’s never a good idea to remove too much height at once when it comes to your grass – especially if it’s really tall. Since the top leaves store a ton of food, water and nutrition, cutting too much too quickly can strip your lawn of the good stuff – leaving it less likely to recover.
The best way to cut very long grass is to skim off the top layer first, removing no more than a third. You can use a lawnmower, a trimmer or a scythe, depending on how long your grass is and what you find easier.
If you’re using a scythe, make sure you wear protective clothing, like gloves, boots and long sleeve trousers.
2. Leave it to Recover for a Few Days
After the first trim, give your grass a few days to recover. Try to let your grass grow by around a centimetre after the first cut.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure you don’t leave your grass too long before cutting again. Otherwise, you’ll be back to where you started!
3. Mow Again
Once your lawn has had a chance to recuperate, give it a second cut, but only remove another third off the top. If your grass isn’t too long, you should be able to use a lawnmower this time around.
If your grass is still really long after two cuts, repeat the process of cutting a third and leaving it to recover as many times as needed.
4. Scarify the Lawn
Once you’ve cut your long grass to its ideal height, you may be left with a mossy lawn that’s full of weeds and clumps. If so, you can scarify it to remove the debris and help your grass breathe again.
This may sound scary, but scarifying just means getting rid of any organic matter that could harm your lawn. To do this, use a scarifying rake and work your way methodically across your lawn until you’ve covered all bases.
If your grass looks awful afterwards, don’t worry! This is completely normal. Scarifying isn’t pretty, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
If you’re mowing long grass in spring, now is a great time to fertilise.
By choosing a high-quality fertiliser, you can prevent weeds and moss from returning. Plus, you’ll be giving your grass an added boost of life.
Make sure you follow the instructions and only give your grass the recommended amount. Applying too much fertiliser can quickly kill off your grass.
Grass is highly versatile, so, even if it looks a little deflated after a hefty cut, it should start thriving again in no time.
However, if you notice a few bare patches here and there after scarifying, now is a good time to re-seed.
For the best results, check the sowing instructions and make sure you keep your grass hydrated if the weather isn’t forecasting any rain.
How to Prevent Overgrown Grass
Sometimes, overgrown grass is unavoidable – like if you go on holiday for a long time or move into a new home that hasn’t been well kept. But prevention is always easier than curing!
To prevent your grass from getting really long again, make sure you:
- Cut regularly during spring and summer, without cutting it too short – Depending on how warm the weather is, weekly or fortnightly cuts are best
- Trim your grass before going on holiday – Especially if your trip is during the spring or summer
- Give your grass a final cut before winter – While the rate of growth will slow down in winter, long grass can turn boggy in cold and rainy conditions
Not Worried About Curb Appeal?
If you have the space and it won’t affect your curb appeal, consider leaving a patch of really tall grass in your garden for the local wildlife.
While it may not look as nice as a neatly trimmed lawn, overgrown grass creates a lovely home for all sorts of critters – including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers and butterflies. It can even entice a few hedgehogs and squirrels!
If leaving a patch of long grass isn’t an option for you, you can read more about how to attract local wildlife to your garden here.