Should you mow before winter, when it’s cold, or after the winter season is gone?
Deciding on the best time to mow your lawn is a daunting task for most homeowners. It’s recommended to cut before the fall frost and up to 2 weeks after the last spring frost to resume mowing.
Frost can damage fresh cut grass and lead to grass rot, patches of dead grass, yellowing or browning grass, and poor greening up in spring. Grass doesn’t grow when temperatures drop or repair itself after mowing, something that can expose it to frost damage.
In this detailed article, we delve into how frost can damage your turf, the ideal time to mow your grass, and some ways to reduce frost damage.
Does Frost Damage Fresh Cut Grass?
Frost occurs when the temperatures go below 32 degrees, and freeze happens in the blades of your lawn.
Frost can damage fresh-cut grass. Each time you cut the grass and leave an open wound. The wound needs time to heal as your lawn is also a living organism.
When it’s warm outside and there is plenty of sunlight, the grass repairs itself as it’s continuously growing. It can heal more quickly. However, when the temperatures drop towards the freezing point, the grass stops growing and remains exposed to frost.
Unfortunately, frost causes harmful effects to the grass, and you may end up with:
- Grass fungus or rot
- Yellowing or browning grass
- Reduced green-up in spring
- Sections of dead grass
Fungal lawn diseases and rot are common in such scenarios. One thing to note is that damage will depend on the grass species.
For example, St. Augustine grass develops a yellowish or brown hue in the damaged spots. In contrast, Bermuda grass gets a patchy appearance and may eventually die if the frost season continues for a prolonged period. That’s why it’s not advisable to mow when frost is in the forecast.
What is the Ideal Temperature to Cut Grass?
The best temperature to cut grass is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can trim it before the cold weather if the temperatures are above 40 degrees. Cutting your grass when the blades are also dry is recommended.
Those in temperate regions with short winters and light snowfall need to mow at least two weeks before the average first freeze. The temperatures at this point are cool enough to allow your grass to set in before the cold starts.
Mowing when the temperatures are cool also ensures that the grass launches into spring vibrantly. The practice discourages weeds and makes your lawn look and feel lively.
Is It Okay to Cut Grass Before Frost?
It’s okay to cut grass before frost sets in, but avoid trimming it when it’s too close to the first snowfall.
You should note that frost forms when the temperatures go below a freezing point. Frost doesn’t need standing water to form like ice. Frost contains ice crystals that form from water vapor in the air. That means wet and dry grass can be covered by frost.
The reason frost damages freshly cut grass is that it adds moisture to the blades in frozen water vapor. Unfortunately, when the temperatures are below the freezing point, that means the grass doesn’t have time to heal and grow. Your lawn may end up with disease and rot. That’s why you need to avoid mowing your lawn during the winter months.
If you’re planning on cutting grass, mow at least a week before the first frost and a week after the last frost to protect your grass from damage.
Also read -> How to Protect New Grass from Frost.
Is It Bad to Cut Your Grass When It’s Cold?
It’s not recommended to cut your grass when it’s cold and the temperatures are under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s because the low temperatures not only damage the grass but also limit its ability to heal later in spring. Although it’s advisable to trim the turg to a certain height before the cold weather sets in to reduce mold, snow, and vermin, it’s also vital not to cut when it’s cold as this could damage the lawn.
Does Grass Continue to Grow After Frost?
Grass doesn’t stop growing after frost. What happens is that it grows at a slower rate compared to when it’s warm outside.
Preventing Frost Damage on Your Lawn
It’s not too late to minimize the effects of frost across your lawn. Here are some tips on how you can prevent frost damage on your lawn.
- Water the Turf in the Evening
Watering your lawn allows the moisture on your turf to evaporate overnight. As the vapor evaporates, it creates heat around the grass blades. That means the grass will have a higher temperature as the air temperature drops below a freezing point. Your lawn won’t be exposed to freezing temperatures that could damage it.
- Avoid Walking on a Frosted Lawn
Don’t walk on a frosted lawn, even if the frost isn’t visible on the grass. Use a driveway or sidewalk as walking across the lawn can still damage the grass blades.
- Fertilize the Lawn in Late Fall
Fertilizing your lawn gives the grassroots strength and provides nourishment to help your turf survive through the winter season. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer jumpstarts growth and feeds the grassroots. Once these nutrients are absorbed and distributed, you can be sure that your lawn will withstand the frost season. Avoid applying any fertilizer when frost is present on the property.
Remember that mowing after fertilization disrupts the root growth. The fertilizer should give your grass the much-needed nutrients lost from the hot season and feed the roots during the cold season.
It’s tempting to mow your lawn to have it look tidy during the winter season. However, you need to be careful when cutting grass, as doing so when it’s close to frost could end up damaging your turf. Avoid mowing when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, when the grass is wet, or when the grass is dormant. You don’t want to end up with browning grass or dead patches of grass. It’s best to avoid cutting grass two weeks before the frost season and at least a week after.