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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Water Protection > Recommended Mowing Techniques

Recommended Mowing Techniques


Regular mowing with a sharp blade set at the proper height keeps grass growing vigorously so it covers the soil surface. For most lawns, a grass height of 2 to 3 inches provides a good quality turf. Continually scalping turf seriously weakens grass plants and invites pests and weeds. Grass clippings can be left on your lawn when it is mowed regularly at the recommended height.

If you have a small lawn, consider using a push mower to reduce air and noise pollution.

During the summer, raise the mower blade 1/2 inch to help your lawn tolerate stress. Taller grass screens light from the soil surface, providing some weed control. It limits the establishment of weed seeds—such as crabgrass—that need light to germinate. It also encourages a slightly deeper root system, so roots can gather moisture and nutrients from a larger soil volume. This gives the grass plants a greater degree of stress tolerance. When grass has grown very tall, it’s better to lower the cutting height gradually, rather than cutting back all at once, to avoid unnecessary stress on the plants.

Leave grass clippings on your lawn whenever possible. They won’t contribute significantly to thatch build-up. As they decompose, they’re a valuable organic source of nutrients, especially nitrogen. In fact, yearly nitrogen applications may be reduced by 1/3 to 1/2 when grass clippings are returned to the lawn. Mulching mowers and mulching attachments for standard power mowers can reduce clipping size, increasing the rate at which grass clippings decompose. Removing about an inch of the grass blade usually produces clippings that decompose fairly quickly.

Be sure to sweep up and recycle clippings that fall on driveways, sidewalks or streets.

MDA Contact

Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division