How to Cut an Overgrown Lawn: All You Need to Know

Lawns can be a tricky thing - at their best they can look amazing, at their worse they are an unsightly eyesore. Overgrown lawns are especially bad, making even a handsome house look like a cabin in a jungle. While the simplest course of action would be to just hack away, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you go and do battle with your lawn.

Here we will go over a few tips that you will need to follow to ensure that your lawn comes out looking pristine. First we will go over what tools you will need and then make an assessment of the nature of your lawn. Then we will go over what prep work needs to be done before you start cutting away. We’ll conclude with a few pointers on what you need to do immediately after, along with the necessary upkeep.

Some of the Tools that you’ll need...

Before you step out to survey your lawn, you need to take stock of what tools you have. Depending on the height of the grass, you will probably need a couple hand tools such as machetes, axes, and pruners. When it comes to power tools items such as string trimmers and edgers will help you tackle the job ahead of you. Most importantly, you need to take a look at the type of mower you have. If you don’t have one, or are thinking about buying a new one there is a couple factors you need to keep in mind. If you are an individual with a smaller yard, then the traditional push mower is the best for you. These types of mowers have intuitive controls along with being more maneuverable than their bigger counterparts. Adjustable heights come standard, but there are also other features such as button start and automatic propulsion.


If you have a larger yard it is recommended that you get a riding mower. As the name suggests these types of mowers are ridable, allowing you to easily cut grass without all the hassle of pushing it around the yard. The rear engine mowers are smaller and cheaper than their larger cousins. These types of riding mower have a smaller deck that will allow you to load them easier onto trailers and get through openings. For a machine that is a bit tougher, take a look at the most common variety - the tractor riding mower. These tractors are larger than the rear engine counterparts and boast higher horsepower. Because of this higher focus on power, these types of mowers can tow small trailers and aerators without out any slowdown. For higher maneuverability there are the zero turn mowers. These classes of mower are typically the most expensive but has the unique ability to turn in a full 360 degrees of motion. The last ones are remote controlled mowers. They work like robot vacuums on your lawn.

Whatever mower you are using is integral that you only put in fresh, treated, or ethanol free gas. Ethanol has a tendency to break down over time and absorb the humidity in the air. This diluted gas can wreak havoc on smaller engines found on lawn equipment

Assessing your Lawn...

Before you get into hacking and slashing away there is a couple factors you need to keep in mind. First you need to assess what type of grass you have. Most grasses look and do best at a height of three inches - there are a few, like bentgrass, that can be cut down to as low as a half an inch. From here you need to see if you have any weeds. Larger weeds can sometimes be indistinguishable from some plants but have the unfortunate side effect of throttling nutrient absorption of your lawn.


Finally, be mindful of what season and tropic zone that you are in. Warmer months you want your grass to be a bit higher, while just before winter you're going to get it down to almost a buzz cut. This becomes more important the farther away you are from the equator. If you are closer to a coastal area, make sure you are cutting grass when it is dry - cutting wet grass can gunk up your mower along with exasperating any lawn diseases that might be present.

Get Rid of those Debris!

You need to prep your lawn to make sure you don’t damage any of your equipment or chop something down that you might want. Go around and remove any fallen branches and any personal items you might have laying around the yard. Any plants you want to keep that you’re worried might be destroyed in the heat of the moment should be marked with a bright piece of ribbon or plastic. This is also an ideal time to cut back on low hanging branches and thick weeds that might be too much for your mower or trimmer to handle. Have a machete or a set of pruners at the standby so you can trim them easily.

If you come across an aggressive bug problem in the form of fire ants or wasps, you should take them out now. There are smaller applications that you can target the nests with, or you can rely on granular product that go over the entire lawn. If you do the latter of these, make sure to wait about a day for the product to have its desired effect.

Take it Nice and Slow…

Remember, it’s best to tackle your lawn on dry sunny days. If you have a lawn height of two feet or more it’s best to start cutting with a string trimmer. This allows you to control what height you want to cut your grass. While it will seem attractive to just cut everything down as fast as possible, doing so will result in harm to your lawn. For extremely high grass you can cut as much as half, but anything under a foot you should only cut a third of the length at any one time. When the lawn has recovered in a couple days you should go back and trim it once more down to the desired height.

When you get to the actual mowing portion make sure you follow a pattern. Typically, you want to go either completely horizontal or vertical on any given day. If you have to come back and trim it a couple days later, make sure you go in the opposite direction. I.E. if you did a vertical back and forth pattern the first day, make sure you do a horizontal pattern on the next trimming. This ensures not only that your lawn absorbs the most nutrients, but also that your blades stay sharper longer.

Look for Trouble Spots…

After a strenuous cutting it is best to water your lawn, this helps foster recovery from the shock it has just endured. If you haven’t already, this is also a great time to apply pesticides. From here you need to see if there are any trouble spots around your yard. If you have brown patches, white circles, or yellow spots you might have a disease or fungus that has developed in the root bed. Ignoring it will only make it worse, and it’s best to apply fungicides and disease killers when your grass is at its shortest.


Keep Up the Upkeep!

After you have tackled your overgrown lawn the best course of action is to stay on top of it. Shorter lawns not only look better, but are healthier and produce less bugs. During the spring and summer months you should aim to cut your grass once a week. Before winter sets in go ahead and give your lawn a real close shave to cut back on browning. Remember, if the lawn does get out of hand again don’t cut too much at once and only cut when it’s dry.

Last Updated on