If you got caught up in disposing of fallen wet leaves or winterproofing your home, you might not realize until the first frost of winter that your lawn is looking a little shaggy. Now, you might be wondering “is it ok to cut grass when it’s cold?”
You shouldn’t mow when your grass is frozen or when temperatures are consistently below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Below forty, your grass will stop growing almost completely, and mowing frozen grass can do a lot of damage to your yard. That said, you can still mow your yard early in winter if temperatures are above forty degrees for a week or more and the grass isn’t wet. Other than that, it’s best not to mow your yard between November and March.
Table of Contents
How Cold is Too Cold to Cut Grass?
Never cut the grass when temperatures are below freezing. Frozen grass blades are very brittle. Even the act of walking on frozen grass can cause some damage. Similar to watering grass when it’s cold, mowing grass that is frozen or frosted can cause extreme damage to the grass, weakening or killing it. Not only that, but grass grows very slowly in temperatures below forty degrees, so it can’t heal from this damage. Mowing frozen grass should be avoided at all times.
Be Careful During Early Winter Thaws
Don’t jump to cut grass and lawn care right after a morning frost or dusting of snow has melted. It’s bad practice to mow wet grass in any condition because it causes additional bruising and tearing of the blades, damaging grass. If there are not safe conditions for mowing, don’t mow.
Is it Bad to Cut Grass Before a Freeze?
You can mow before a freeze as long as conditions are above 40 degrees and the grass blades are not wet. During winter, your grass doesn’t stop growing completely, but it slows down to a crawl. The lawn care ideal is to mow your yard for the last time just before temperatures dip below 40. In spring, you’ll have a healthy and robust lawn.
Plan to Mow Before Winter
Weather patterns vary region-to-region and year-to-year, so there’s no definitive perfect date to mow your lawn for the last time for the year. However, for regions in northern and midwestern parts of the country, a good rule of thumb is to mow for the last time in late-October and resume mowing in March.
In more temperate regions that experience light snowfall and shorter winters, plan to mow for the last time 2–3 weeks before the average first freeze of the year. By then, temperatures should be cool enough that your grass won’t grow much before cold weather sets in.
Is it Better to Leave your Lawn Long or Short for Winter?
It can be detrimental to leave your lawn long in winter. In snowy areas with cool-season grasses, long grass serves as a ceiling that prevents snow from completely reaching the ground. It invites voles and other vermin who will tunnel under the snow and spend their winter under the snow “roof,” eating grass roots and destroying your yard. Snow mold and other lawn fungus can also occur when grass is left long for winter. A mowed lawn lets snow settle all the way down on the soil and discourages these pests and other diseases.
It’s a good idea to mow your lawn to a healthy height before winter sets in. A good practice is to leave the grass a little longer than you usually would. Add an extra half-inch to your mower height for your final pre-winter mow to ensure good winter grass health and a strong return in spring.
Why is it Good to Mow Before Winter?
In addition to keeping destructive pest animals out of your yard in snowy regions, mowing cool-season grass before winter also ensures your grass will launch vibrantly into spring. Long and unkempt grass will stay brown and dormant longer in spring, giving more opportunity for spring weeds to take root. Mowing before winter means better spring grass growth, which makes your lawn look great and discourages weeds.
Is it OK to Cut Grass When it’s Cold?
You should never mow grass that is frozen and should avoid mowing grass in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit whenever possible, as this could cause damage to the grass and impede its ability to recover. Also, don’t mow grass when it’s still wet during a brief warm period in early winter. Wait until temperatures have stayed above forty degrees for 7 days or more following a freeze, then mow.
While it’s good practice to mow your lawn to a manageable height before winter sets in, to discourage vermin and snow mold, and create conditions for lawn recovery in spring, it’s better not to mow than it is to damage your lawn with improper cold-weather mowing practices. Don’t be fooled by false-thaws that encourage your grass to spring up. In many regions, it’s best practice to stop mowing completely between November and March.