When to first cut the grass after winter, according to lawn and garden experts
Wondering when to first cut your grass for the season? Professional gardeners and lawn experts explain the best time to cut grass after winter
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Knowing when to first cut grass after winter is crucial for a luscious lawn that'll thrive all summer long. Get it wrong and you run the risk of damaging the health of the grass.
While now may feel like the perfect time to awaken the lawn to welcome a new lease of life after it's been left dormant for months, the slightly milder weather doesn't necessarily mean it's the opportune time to get the mower out and start replicating the latest garden trends.
Similar to assessing how often you need to mow the lawn, the answer will vary slightly depending on the condition of your grass and the weather in your area. But getting the timing right is key because with just one bad mow all your hard work and lawn maintenance can be undone.
We spoke to lawn care professionals and garden landscape experts who revealed the best time to cut your lawn for the season - plus, tips on how to get the first trim of the year just right.
When to first cut grass after winter, according to experts
As the winter starts to ease, those with a backyard will start to think about getting out there to prep the grass ready for summer, but when and how you first cut the grass after winter is crucial for a happy, healthy patch of turf for the rest of the year ahead.
"Getting the timing right is the key to keeping your lawn healthy and making sure that you are doing no unnecessary harm to it," warns Chris McIlroy, a lawn expert at The Grass People (opens in new tab). "As a rule of thumb, we recommend waiting until temperatures are consistently above 8 degrees before you think about mowing your lawn. When temperatures are below 8 degrees, your grass is typically in a state of dormancy, where it grows a very small amount, so slowly, it’s almost unnoticeable."
"Depending on where you live, those temperatures will come at different stages of the year. Make sure that if there is any sign of frost you avoid mowing as this can damage grass blades and increase the chance of diseases taking hold in your lawn," Chris explains. "You should also avoid mowing grass when it’s wet, try to cut on days when the grass has had a chance to dry, and don’t cut early in the morning if there is dew on the lawn."
"It’ll vary depending on your local weather, but we’d normally recommend doing the first cut of the year in late March or early April to be sure that frosts have ended," advises Gemma Vincent, Product Manager at Hayter (opens in new tab).
"For the most part, it will be during the month of March when you begin to mow," agrees Chris. "By April, if you haven’t already started, all parts of the country should be experiencing temperatures where they can. Begin by mowing as grass requires it, this shouldn’t be much more than twice in April. Once the weather starts to pick up in May this can be pushed up to once a week."
5 expert tips for the first grass cut after winter
"Mowing the lawn is one of the more straightforward tasks when looking after your lawn’s health but there are a couple of rules to follow to make sure you’re doing everything right," explains Chris.
So here are five simple rules and gardening tips the professionals recommend when carrying out the first cut of a lawn after winter...
1. Get your lawn mover serviced
You might not have thought about your lawn mower since it went into hibernation last year, but now is the time to give it a once-over. "Make sure your mower is in good condition," advises Chris. "A quick service, making sure blades are sharp, is well worth the time and effort as it could prevent lots of hassle down the line."
Gemma adds: "If you’ve had your mower serviced during the offseason, great – newly-sharpened blades will help ensure your first cut is as smooth as possible."
2. Inspect the ground and remove debris
"Always inspect the ground for snow or frost before you start mowing," advises Chris Bonnet, the founder of Gardening Express (opens in new tab). "If there is any, wait until it melts, but make sure that the ground is not too wet or soft.,"
"Remember to remove any debris, such as fallen sticks or stones that could harm the blades of your mower. This is important because making sure the blades are sharp is essential for an even cut and healthy grass growth."
3. Avoid cutting grass too short
The same applies to general lawn mowing maintenance, but with the first cut after winter, it's even more essential not to cut the grass too short for the sake of your mower. "You should make sure that you cut your grass on the highest setting on your mower so as not to shock the blades," warns Chris.
"It’s important that you avoid cutting your lawn too short on the first cut" agrees Gemma, "try not to cut each blade of grass more than 1/3 of its pre-mow length. After the first cut, you should aim to keep your grass at a consistent length throughout the course of the gardening year.”
Chris elaborates, "Following the first cut, you can drop the mowing height to the recommended height for your lawn. For fine lawns, the generally recommended height is 10-15 mm, for general-use lawns the recommended mowing height is 25-40 mm."
4. Aim for the longest lengths first
You don't need to mow your lawn as thoroughly as you normally would for the first cut of the year. Instead, cut the longest lengths first. "With the cutting blade raised a little higher than usual make sure to mow the longest patches of grass first, then go on to the shorter sections if needed," advises Chris.
"Grass doesn’t appreciate a hard cut at the start of the year, so you will often just take a small amount off the top. On a first cut, you may only cut those areas of the lawn that have grown a lot. You will gradually lower the blade over the next couple of cuts and therefore end up cutting the shorter sections later on."
5. Remove cuttings after the first cut
Like us, the lawn will be in need of some warming sunny rays so be sure to clear the cuttings off the lawn after the initial cut after winter. "After first mowing, remove the cuttings to allow the grass to be exposed to the little sunshine that there is," suggest Chris Bonnet.
At other times of the year, experts advise that leaving the cuttings on the top can provide the thriving lawn with valuable nutrients. So if you're not worried about the appearance you can leave them for future mows, but for now, remove them so the grass can absorb the sun's rays.
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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