Lawn is mowed three inces tall and grass clippings are left in place.

What is this?

Mow grass with the blades on a setting of at least 3 inches high so your lawn has a nice uniform appearance and is at a lush height that allows for both weed control and strong grass roots. The only exception is the first and last mowing of the year – these should be about 2 inches tall. Leave grass clippings on lawn after every mowing where they will quickly break down and recycle nutrients back into the soil.

How do I do this?

On my own

Healthy Mowing Practices

  1. Raise your lawn mower blade to three inches after the first mow of the spring and keep it there until the last mow of the fall. Leave clippings where they lay.
  2. Keep your blade sharp for healthier grass. Sharpen it once a year. Local hardware stores offer this service. Dull blades don’t make clean cuts; instead you get a ragged edge that can weaken the grass.
  3. You don’t need to purchase any special mulching blades.  A study at the University of Illinois showed mulching mowers did not provide additional benefits over conventional mowers, providing healthy lawn care practices were followed.
  4. Mow on a regular basis and, if there are hills, in the direction safest for you.  Change direction periodically if desired, though mowing in the same direction is generally not a problem on residential lawns.
  5. Do not remove more than one-third of the grass blade’s height in any cutting as that puts stress on the grass.
  6. Do not mow when grass is wet, especially if the ground is soaked as that can cause soil compaction.
  7. The first and last mowing of the year should be about 2 inches.

Hire some help

If you use a lawn care service, observe their practices and thank them if they’re already using good habits. If they aren’t, this may be a good opportunity to talk with them and share your wishes. If you are looking to hire a lawn care company, check our list of lawn care vendors. Local vendors.  

Why is this important?

Good mowing habits lead to a healthier lawn which means you are then less likely to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Mowing has a major impact on lawn appearance and health, yet is commonly overlooked in terms of importance.  Raise your mower setting to three inches and you'll grow healthier grass with stronger, deeper roots. It will better survive droughts and shade out many weeds. Never cut the lawn to less than 2 inches because the roots will be correspondingly short and your lawn will be more susceptible to both weeds and drought.   

As long as the lawn is mowed on a regular basis, the grass clippings do not need to be collected. Grass clippings readily decompose and do not cause thatch. They’re rich in nitrogen so less (or no) fertilizer is needed.


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