This article is by Turf Magazine
Determining the best mowing height can be debated for all regions and turfgrass species. Cutting at the ideal height, regardless of season and conditions, results in lush, healthy lawns that fend off weeds, drought and disease. Cutting too low, and especially to the bottom of the grass crowns, results in lawns that cannot resist weeds. Read what these LawnSite members discuss for determining lawn height for winter.
1STRIPER1:We live in northwestern Wisconsin (USDA zone 3B-4A) and have the typical turfgrass for this part of the country. Sixty percent bluegrass, 25 percent fescue and 15 percent perennial ryegrass. For the last mowing of the year before the snow fl ies, I’ve been trying to keep the height at about 1.75 inches. Starting in August, I gradually take the lawn down from 3.5 inches (mid-summer height) to the final 1.75 inches, then in spring, I gradually increase the height. I fertilize three to four times per year, depending how hot and dry the summer is. What are your thoughts on the final winter height?
KerbDMK: You are going to get a million different opinions on this, but I’m going to assume you are lowering your cut for good reasons that you have not explained to us in the fall. It would be my opinion that you should let the grass grow to the height you want to keep it for the summer before you mow in the spring. I recommend that you do some research of university information and decide what you want to do.
Mr Efficiency: I used to mow all the time lower in spring, summer and fall — until this year. I am keeping height up until just before the first snow. Leaves are a little more difficult to blow but I am convinced after my yearlong test on my own lawn that high mowing height is much better for the health of the turf and the environment. My final cut before snow falls will be around 2 inches but keeping it high until the last minute so the turf can get as much sunlight on long blades and continues to shade out any fall weeds that may want to grow.
KerbDMK: Just for the record I’m planning to do the same as Mr Efficiency this year because I have problems with voles and snow mold. If you don’t have those kinds of problems, you are better off not lowering the cut at all. The longer grass will help to prevent winter desiccation. I like to encourage people to fnd out why they are doing things the way are doing them. The universities have all of that information readily available and they have actually studied those things for many years. It’s difficult for any of us to give you all of the answers you may need and we often don’t know all of the particulars of your individual situation.
River: I just cut at 3.5 to 4 inches just like normal. If I cut it too low, it just gets snow mold. And we get serious snow from Lake Michigan.
Mark Oomkes: Mice (vole) tracks are not harmful, maybe a bit unsightly, but they go away quickly. The voles are still there going through your lawn, they just aren’t as visible. Snow mold is not in and of itself caused by leaving the grass cut longer.