Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by Mark Brian
You have overgrown grass on your lawn, and it’s a bit of a challenge to mow it. Tall grass is not only difficult to mow, but it also has some lurking dangers. In case you have a large garden, mowing tall grass with a riding lawn mower seems like the best option.
It’s no joke to mow tall grass. It can take you somewhere between a day or a week to mow it all. Following the guideline will save you time and possibly money. So, let’s get started.
Things You Will Need:
You will need a little more than a riding lawn mower for mowing. In addition, certain garden tools can help you in this pursuit. You will need:
- Metal grinding disc to sharpen blades
- String trimmer
- Protective goggles, gloves, and boots
- Grass Bagger
Step by Step Guide to Mow Tall Grass with a Riding Lawn Mower
- You should start with choosing the time when to mow. It is preferable to mow in the dry season in spring, summer, or early fall.
- Prepare the area before mowing by removing any stumps, branches, debris, mulch, plastics, and stones.
- Sharpen your riding mower’s blades because it will take a lot of mechanical energy to mow tall grass.
- Have a grass bagger ready to put all your grass clippings in it.
- Trim the grass so it can be manageable.
- Allow the grass to rest for a day or two after trimming to avoid its stress or hibernation mode.
- After that mow the grass slowly by keeping the throttle down and cutting height high.
- Mow the grass in reverse circuits.
- Rest the mower between sessions. If you choose to discharge your grass, then make sure the discharge chute is on the mowed side.
- Clean the riding lawn mower in intervals while mowing tall grass to avoid damage.
1. Choose the Right Time
The best time to mow tall grass is on a dry sunny day, anytime in spring, summer, or early fall. Tall grass is generally thicker, often clumped together. This gives rise to the wet mist that surrounds it. Moreover, mowing wet grass after rain will cost you your lawn mower.
Dry days are preferred because the humidity is much less. In other words, you can have more control over grass and riding a lawn mower. Moreover, it is easy to cut the grass when it is dry.
2. Prepare the Area
A close inspection of the area will help you remove all the possible hazards lurking behind tall grass.
Remove any stones, plastic, mulch, debris, branches, and tree stumps beforehand. Also, mark anything that cannot be moved but may damage the mower’s blade with flagging tape.
Apart from the debris, this tall grass is home to a lot of rodents and snakes. Beware of any sudden movements, and use protective glasses, gloves, and boots meanwhile. Moreover, remove anything that may seem small but can be big at blade level.
3. Prepare Your Mower
Preparing your riding lawn mower to mow tall grass will not only save you time but also help keep the machine safe.
Mowing tall grass is one of the most taxing things that a lawn mower can do. So, sharpening its blades with a grinding disc will help mow tough grass easily.
Next, you should check the mower deck and clean it. Make sure that the side discharge chute is working and able to throw grass at its full potential. It will be a bummer if any of these things stop working during a mowing session.
4. Attach a Bagger or Mulching Bag
It is an option to attach a bagger or a mulching bag with or without a kit while mowing tall grass with a riding lawn mower.
However, it will save you a lot of time after cleaning. Usually, attaching a bagger is no big deal, but you can always learn how to attach one.
Bagging and mulching are almost similar things with different purposes. Such as a bagger will simply bag all the grass clippings. While a mulching bag will collect grass after it is clipped into tiny pieces by mulching blades.
5۔ Trim the Grass
Earlier people used shears or scythes to get rid of tall grass but let’s be honest. It’s impractical to mow down a whole lot of grass with just a pair of grass shears.
Riding lawn mowers are great, but they are not designed to mow tall grass. Moreover, untrimmed grass will keep getting stuck in the mower.
So to solve this problem, string trimmers are used to mow down almost one feet grass. String trimmers have a whirling filament line attached to a motor that cuts grass or weeds in no time.
Sudden excessive cutting will put the grass in stress mode so only trim what is necessary. However, you should hand pluck any grass or bush that is thicker than your thumb, by using a scythe or a string trimmer.
6۔ Rest the Grass
It is very important to rest the grass for a day or two after trim. Otherwise, you will be risking the health of your lawn. After the first trim, the grass may be still not on the mower height.
Immediately mowing grass after trimming will put it at risk of dying. So after one or two trims with sufficient gap, start mowing the lawn.
7۔ Mow Slowly in Portions
Switch to a riding lawn mower after the grass is trimmed. You can use a rake to remove the extra thatch and mulch from the ground to ease the grass. Now the lawn is ready for mowing. It will be easier to mow in portions than all in one go.
Slow but steady wins the race of mowing tall grass with a riding lawn mower. Keep the throttle or speed of the mower down, with the cutting height set at the highest setting. Cut at 4 to 6 inches of grass.
One of the most common mistakes is to throw the grass clippings in the unmowed area. Mowing the grass in reverse circuits will allow the machine to use minimum energy.
By keeping the mower blades half in the mowed area and half unmowed, you can achieve greater quality.
Side discharge is an important part of mowing tall grass. If you are not using a bagger then you should make sure that the chute is facing the mowed area.
Additionally, you can lift the discharge 2 to 3 inches higher, so the grass falls further away.
9۔ Rest the Mower
Sudden heating up of a riding lawn mower can cost you dearly. So this is why resting the lawn mower every 30 to 40 minutes is recommended.
A 15 minutes break at minimum between the sessions can improve quality and save your mower from the burn.
Closed deck mowers like John Deere, Craftsman and Cub Cadet require more often cooling than open deck lawn mowers. The reason being the closed engines that make the heat escape tedious.
10۔ Clean the Mower
Your first inclination might be to have a lemonade after a demanding mowing session. However, you can also use this time to clean the mower blades of any grass clumps. Also, checking the side discharge chute for any blocking grass will be good.
Things to Consider While Mowing Tall Grass with a Riding Mower
Type of Grass
Two main types of grass are usually planted. Cool season grass and warm season grass. Apart from this, grass quality is also of importance. Every grass has its own set of requirements, that if unmet can lead to its drying out.
Additionally, standard and premium grasses are taken care of differently. It is advisable to mow tall premium turf in a minimum of 3 to 5 days to keep it from going into stress mode.
Although most grass types are greener in mid summer, you can choose any dry day to mow them. Mowing tall grass with a riding lawn mower in early spring or early fall when the grass is still dormant is preferable. Some grass types tend to lose color when dormant, so don’t take the grass for dead and follow the protocol accordingly.
Type of Blades
Some of the most common blades used are mower blades and mulching blades. For instance, mower blades set at their highest setting are suitable for mowing tall grass with riding lawn mowers.
The key element in cutting sturdy tall grass is how sharp and fast the blades work. Dull blades can hamper the mowing process. Also, they can damage the grass beyond repair with uneven cuts.
A common problem faced while cutting tall grass is the amount of clumping in the deck. Clumped grass can not only be an obstacle to blades but also damages the mower belt. Therefore, taking regular breaks and cleaning the mower while mowing tall grass is important.
When cut grass is accumulated in mass under the blades, it can dull them. Moreover, without a side discharge, the grass will clump and be dumped on the lawn in a mush. However, using a side discharge at higher angles will expel the grass far enough or bag it without clumping.
Tall grass often serves as an ecosystem. All sorts of insects, rodents, and snakes can be present in them. By mowing the grass slowly, you are not only preserving your grass but also giving time to these small animals to flee.
On the other hand, weeds destroy the grass. Look out for any small weeds that could be left. However, do not try to mow over a shrub or a tree stump, or even a thick weed. These can be hand pulled, scythed, or trimmed if any left.
Maintenance After Mowing Tall Grass with a Riding Lawn Mower
Proper maintenance of grass after mowing it will encourage a healthy lawn. Moreover, you can avoid any overgrowth and weed by following a schedule.
Usually, freshly cut tall grass has enough moisture to sustain it for a week. However, if you see signs of dehydration and chapped earth, consider watering. Otherwise watering once or twice will suffice. However, keep in check the grass type and its subsequent water requirements.
Every grass is different in the time it takes to grow. Such as Zoysia grass is slow growing compared to Bermuda grass. In peak season, you may need to mow once or twice at a high setting compared to off season mowing once in two weeks. Nonetheless, scheduling your mowing sessions will help maintain a manicured lawn.
Fertilization is very subjective to each grass. For example, St. Augustine grass needs to be fertilized only once around the year. On the contrary, Bermuda grass requires fertilizer every 4 to 7 weeks. Grass mulch serves as an excellent nitrogen fertilizer.
There is no herbicide around that will kill the weed but leave the grass. Most herbicides will damage your lawn at the least. So, hand pulling is the most effective way to get rid of weeds. However, sometimes it is impractical so you can put salt at the base of weeds or simply spray a mixture of salt, dish soap, and baking soda on the weeds.
How to Prevent Grass from Getting Long?
The most common way in practice for keeping the grass in check is mowing it regularly. However, some unpopular ways are present to slow grass growth. One method is by adding a layer of grass mulch and on top of it some newspaper mulch. It will fairly hamper the fast growth and will enrich soil nutrients as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How tall is too tall to cut grass?
Grass anywhere between 7 to 10 inches is considered too tall for a lawn mower. Some riding lawn mowers can tackle up to 6 inches of grass, but most have the highest setting at 4 inches. Tall grass needs to be trimmed before mowing.
Should I leave grass clippings on the lawn?
If you are not planning to mulch your lawn, then it is best to bag the grass clippings. Bagging the clippings makes the after cleaning manageable.
What happens to grass if you don’t cut it?
Naturally, the grass will grow if you don’t cut it. However, in the absence of proper care, it usually becomes patchy, dry out in places, or catch some insect, viral or fungal disease.
Is it better to leave the grass longer in hot weather?
Scalping or burning the exposed grassroots is a major concern in summers. So, it is good to maintain 2 to 3 inches of grass. Yet the shadow resistance of your grass type should be kept in view.
What time of day is best to mow lawns?
The best time to mow the lawn is between 8 am to 10 am when the grass is dry of any dew. Depending on the weather, any dry day can work. However, avoid mowing in the evening or at night.
Mowing tall grass with a riding lawn mower is a feat in itself. We have tried to cover all the points to make the process smooth for you. If you still have any questions, feel free to ask. We are happy to help.
Happy Mowing to You!