As Autumn transitions into drab, more wintery days, the question on every gardener's mind is: 'when should I stop cutting my grass?'
While many of us eagerly anticipate the moment we can stow away our lawn mowers and stop fretting about our garden landscaping, it's crucial to understand that grass doesn’t stop growing during the colder months – it simply slows down.
We reached out to three gardening experts for their advice on when to stop cutting your lawn, and asked them to share their top tips for ensuring your grass stays healthy all winter long.
When should I stop cutting my grass?
David Hedges-Gower, chairman of the Lawn Association, says the answer to this depends solely on the weather, but a general rule is "if it doesn’t stop growing then don’t stop mowing".
Mowing is an essential pruning technique that encourages lawn thickness and robust growth. "The idea of a 'last cut' before winter isn’t necessarily beneficial for your lawn," explains David. "Regular mowing maintains a tidy appearance, removes debris, and contributes to the overall health of your lawn."
Chris McIlroy, grass expert at The Grass People, agrees: “Generally, the first frost of the year in the UK happens in early November. Once temperatures dip below 5°C, your lawn should essentially enter a dormant phase," he explains. "However, some regions might experience milder climates, allowing for minimal growth."
Chris Bonnett, CEO of Gardening Express adds: "A final trim in early November with bolster the lawn’s resilience against winter's harshness, setting a solid foundation for vigorous growth come spring".
David is one of the UK's leading lawn experts, with over 30 years' experience in the industry. He is Chairman of the Lawn Association, an educational platform for homeowners and professionals, and founded the world's first lawn care qualification.
Is it ok to cut grass in winter?
Our gardening experts are all in agreement that regular garden maintenance is key to a healthy lawn in the colder months. Cutting your grass in winter is absolutely fine, as long as you don't cut it too short.
"A tidy lawn is paramount, especially in winter," says David Hedges-Gower. "Neglecting to cut it can lead to an accumulation of leaves and debris, potentially paving the way for disease and a general decline in grass quality."
Grass can become too wet, long and ‘leggy’ if left for too long, so The Lawn Association recommends adjusting your mower to a higher blade setting during winter and ensuring regular blade maintenance.
On the flip side, Chris McIlroy highlights the risks associated with cutting grass too short in winter: "Exposing the grass to frost and disease can inflict long-term damage," he cautions. "For areas grappling with uneven growth explore effective grass-seeding techniques".
Can I mow my grass in frosty conditions?
According to Chris McIlroy, you should only mow your lawn in winter if it's necessary and if the conditions are favourable: “It is not advised to mow if there is a heavy frost, snow expected, or if the ground is very wet. But if your grass is looking overgrown, and the weather is dry and above 5°C there’s no harm in getting the mower out.”
Mowing during periods of frosty weather is fine, but during an actual frost will cause damage, says David Hedges-Gower. “So, let the frost lift off the leaf blades and to help dry the lawn before mowing, blow the dew off the grass which will allow it to dry better,” he adds. “Then mow away as normal.”
Chris Bonnett is CEO of Gardening Express Ltd & Bonnetts Garden Village.
He founded online gardening retailer, Gardening Express, in the late 1990s to elevate the mail-order plant industry through a commitment to quality and innovation. Today, Gardening Express stands as one of the largest independent online Garden Centres in the UK.
How can I keep my grass healthy over winter?
"Preparing your lawn for winter involves more than just a final trim, says Chris Bonnett. "Maintaining your lawn during the colder season is vital for ensuring its resurgence come spring".
It’s important to ensure your grass is well-fertilised and free from debris to maintain optimum health. That means raking away dead leaves, weeding and potentially scarifying your lawn when required.
Gardening Express also recommends occasionally aerating your lawn during winter to prevent soil compaction and to improve nutrient absorption. However, it's important not to overdo this, as aeration is typically undertaken in early spring or autumn – when grass is actively growing.
What month can I start mowing my grass again?
"Lawns tend to thin out the most during winter due to the extreme weather," says says David Hedges-Gower. "So, it’s better to look at the ‘next cut’ rather than the last or first. Our environment is changing and warmer winter months will cause the grass to still grow. It’s a helpful way of not just keeping the lawn healthy, but a good reminder to view the lawn occasionally. A mistake that many can and will make.”
McIlroy concludes: “Just like stopping to mow your lawn, starting to mow it again is very much dependent on your location. We normally use March as a guideline on when to start regularly mowing your lawn again, as temperatures typically begin to rise and growth will start to speed up again".
If you're looking to replace your mower before the next grass growing season, it's worth researching the best cordless lawn mowers and the best petrol lawn mowers to make light work of cutting your lawn.
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Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.
- Gabriella DysonAssistant Editor