Bermuda Grass Mowing Height [How Short Can You Cut?]

Mowing a Bermudagrass lawn is such an important practice that can help control weeds and grow the turf thick. The mowing, however, has to be done right, meaning you should not mow too low or too high. So, what is the right mowing height for Bermuda grass?

The proper mowing height for Bermuda grass is 0.5 to 2.5 inches. For common Bermuda grass, set the mower at 1.5 -2.5 inches high; but for hybrid varieties, the proper mowing height is 0.5 to 1.5 inches. Do not cut more than 1/3 of the grass blades for a healthy lawn.

The rule of thumb for most grass varieties is that you should not mow more than 1/3 (one-third) of the grass blades. It has its own benefits as I’ll discuss below in this post but the most important of them all – it encourages bermuda grass to grow thicker faster.

What’s the right mowing height for Bermuda grass?

The answer is 0.5 to 2.5 inches. However, you can mow hybrid Bermuda grass varieties slightly lower at 0.5 to 1.5 inches while common Bermuda grass should be mowed higher at 1.5-2.5 inches. Mowing too short can scalp and damage the lawn, making it turn brown.

Here’s a table guide for reference:

Recommended mowing height:0.5 – 2.5 inches
Common bermudagrass:1.5-2.5 inches
Hybrid varieties:0.5-1.5 inches
New bermudagrass sod:1.25-1.5
January – April1 inch
Spring (first mowing)1¼ to 1½ inches
Summer0.5 to 2.5 inches
Fall0.5 to 2.5 inches

Pro tip: Set a higher mowing height if the ground is uneven to prevent scalping the lawn unless you’re trying to fix the bumpy lawn by adding topsoil, sand, or dirt. Keep in mind the right way to measure mowing height is to take the distance between the mower blade and the hard surface in your lawn.

Bermuda grass is best mowed at a height of between 1-2 inches. However, you can mow slightly below or over this height range depending on the conditions of your lawn, the specific location, and the grass variety you’re growing.

If you’re mowing at a height lower than 1 inch, the best type of lawn mower to use is a reel mower such as the Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower (which is highly recommended for Bermuda grass lawns).

For a newly established Bermuda lawn, we recommend mowing at a height of between 1.25-1.5 inches. You can then reduce this height gradually with every subsequent mowing, making sure you’re only making small height increments. For instance, if you’d mowed the lawn at 1.5 inches during the first mowing, you can increase it to 1.25 inches during the next mowing.

If your Bermuda turfgrass looks scalped or thinned out after a mowing session, it’s indicative of a lawn that has been mowed too low. As such, you should consider slightly reducing the mowing height.

Remember, however, that some varieties of Bermuda grass can be cut at a height of as low as two-inches. Finally, you should consider raising the mowing height of your Bermuda lawn if the turf looks stressed due to elements like inadequate rainfall and extreme temperatures.

Can you cut Bermuda grass too short?

You’ll want to avoid cutting your Bermuda turf too short, as this will cause damage to the grass by way of scalping and bare spots. Scalping refers to when you cut your grass too low to the point of exposing the stem tissues, leaving the grass with a yellowish appearance. Grass that’s cut too short will have lesser energy reserves, and will- therefore- be more vulnerable to weed invasions.

What’s more, since grass that’s mowed too low is less-capable of making energy through photosynthesis, it draws on energy that’s stored in the roots. This- then- hampers root development, weakening and killing the grass in the process. Finally, Bermuda grass grows by way of above-ground runners and underground rhizomes. Therefore, mowing too low can cause damage to the above-ground stolons.

Is it better to cut grass short or long?

It’s advisable to cut your grass short instead of long, as doing so promotes the rate of lateral growth at the expense of vertical growth. When turfgrass grows laterally wider, you end up with a thicker lawn that’s nice-looking. However, when mowing your grass short- say, at a height that’s slightly lower than one inch- you should use a reel mower which won’t scalp the turf.

There are instances in which you may want to mow longer. For instance, if you notice that your Bermuda grass lawn is showing signs of stress through blades yellowing after mowing, it could be that you’re mowing too low to the extent that you’re taking off more than one-third of the length of the leaf blades.

As such, photosynthesis is hindered and the grass becomes unable to make enough energy to sustain growth and development, resulting in the turfgrass becoming weaker and yellowing/browning. If this is the case, we recommend increasing the mowing height to allow more leaf blade surface area for photosynthesis.

Mowing Frequency for a Bermuda Grass Lawn

For a newly-established Bermuda lawn, the first mowing should be done when the grass is about three inches tall. For an existing Bermuda lawn, start mowing from around the end of winter- say, in March. At around this time, your Bermuda turf will be coming back to life from the winter dormancy stage and mowing will help remove the unsightly, brown blades of grass.

The second mowing should be undertaken when the lawn is fully established, which is usually around mid-spring. Subsequent mowings should then be undertaken at least every seven days. For a neater-looking lawn, such as those in golf courses and public playgrounds, you can increase your mowing frequency to every three days.

You can also alter the mowing frequency of your Bermuda grass lawn depending on the season of the year. For example, during the peak growth season in spring, you should mow your Bermuda grass every 3-5 days. As from mid-summer when temperatures are highest, you can reduce the frequency to once a week.

Once fall sets in, we recommend mowing your Bermuda lawn just once a month, or only when necessary. This is because warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass stop growing at around this time of the year. Finally, mowing your Bermuda lawn during winter isn’t necessary at all, as the grass will be dormant by this point, unless the lawn was overseeded with a cool-season turfgrass variety.

Does mowing Bermuda grass help it grow?

Yes, mowing your Bermuda lawn helps it to grow faster laterally, resulting in a denser/fuller turf. What’s more, a Bermuda lawn that’s frequently mowed grows evenly for a more appealing aesthetic. Finally, whenever you mow your Bermuda turf without bagging, the left-behind grass clippings form mulching; which supplies the growing grass with much-needed nutrients.

Mowing height for newly planted grass

The appropriate mowing height for newly planted grass depends on what variety of Bermuda turfgrass it is. For instance, warm-season turfgrasses like Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass have an ideal mowing height of 1.5 inches. On the other hand- cool-season turfgrasses like fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are best mowed at a height of between 2- 2.5 inches.

It’s important to know the ideal mowing height for your turfgrass, as it allows you to properly schedule your mowing frequency. What’s more, allowing your turf to grow too long can create a perfect habitat for insects and critters. Finally, a lawn that has been maintained at the proper height is usually visually appealing, and is also more resistant to pests, weeds, and diseases.

Apart from the turfgrass species, the proper mowing height is also determined by the season and the growth conditions.  We recommend adjusting the ideal mowing height of your turf as per the guidelines below:

  1. Whenever there’s drought, let your turfgrass grow taller and during the warm season.
  2. To improve the re-growth rate of your warm-season turf during spring (post-dormancy), mow lower to remove dead blades of grass.
  3. If your lawn is partially shaded, let the grass grow taller.
  4. For cool-season turfs in snow-prone areas, we recommend mowing shorter to reduce the chances of snow mold infestation.
  5. Depending on how tall your grass is, ensure to cut no more than one third of the grass blades during each mowing. This is because removing to much of the leaf blades minimizes the rate of photosynthesis, consequently affecting grass development.

References

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