When to cut grass in winter — and when to leave well alone

man in coat mowing grass
(Image credit: Getty)

When to cut grass in winter — this is a topic that can cause some division. If you are gazing out over your garden beating yourself up about scruffy flowerbeds and a less than pristine lawn then we are here to – hopefully – make you feel a little better.  

Although it can be disheartening to see your garden design looking rather bedraggled, knowing that this is quite normal should help a little. "Over summer, gardens provide a sanctuary away from the business of life, but over winter they start to look dilapidated," adds Chris Bonnett from GardeningExpress.co.uk.

While there are most certainly jobs you can do to maintain and protect plants and trees in your garden, when it comes to your grass, less is often more. 

Here, we take a look at when the best time to mow your lawn during the winter months is and how to get your grass in tip top condition for when the warmer seasons roll around again. 

When to cut grass in winter — is it a good idea?

According to the RHS, the best time to mow grass is between March and October, when it should be cut weekly or fortnightly. Mowing it this regularly during this time should rid your lawn of weeds and mean your grass is dense and lush. 

But what about after October? You might be asking 'when should I stop cutting my grass' and put the lawn mower away to hibernate for winter? In general, once temperatures drop below 5˚C, the grass is unlikely to keep growing anyway.

"In winter, grass grows at a slower rate due to the colder weather. As a result, it is not necessary to mow your lawn unless the weather is mild and the grass keeps growing," says Nick Wood, the horticulturalist of Gardening Express

However, David Hedges-Gower, one of the UK's leading lawn experts, and Chairman of Lawn Associationhas these words of advice: "If it doesn’t stop growing, then don’t stop mowing," he says. "By taking the top off the grass during the winter months, you keep the grass tidy, remove leaves and debris and make the appearance better."

That said, once winter weather really sets in, it is important to be aware that mowing grass in certain conditions could really cause damage to your lawn. 

"Before each mowing session, be sure to check for any snow or frost on the ground," says Nick Wood. "If you see any present, wait until it melts before mowing, but ensure that the ground is not too soft or water logged. Make sure that the temperature outside is at least 5°C so that your grass can fully benefit from the trimming and stay healthy throughout the winter months."

frosty grass

Avoid cutting grass after a frost — it could well damage your lawn.  (Image credit: Getty)

What is the best way to mow grass in winter?

If your grass is still growing in winter – and this is a distinct possibility in milder weather – take care when mowing but don't feel you have to avoid it altogether.

"The best way to mow your grass during winter is to raise the cutting blade a little higher than usual," says Nick Wood. "Start off by cutting the longest sections first and working towards shorter areas of grass.

"Remove the clippings from the surface to expose grass to what little sunlight there is and make sure to clear any debris before you begin mowing, like sticks or stones that could damage your mower blades. 

"Finally, it is also important to make sure your mower blades are sharp for an even cut and to get healthier grass growth in spring."

Both the best petrol lawn mowers and electric versions will come with a range of cutting blade height positions. 

Mum and daughter mowing grass in autumn

After October, as autumn begins to draw to a close, it is often unnecessary to cut grass as often as it is in the height of summer, but if the weather is very mild, you may well find yourself needing to mow for longer.   (Image credit: Getty)

When should I cut my grass after winter?

So, as winter merges into spring, just when is the best time to dust off the mower and get back in the mowing mindset?

Although March is often suggested as the best time to carry out the 'first cut of the year', it is often a case of using your common sense. If the winter has been a mild one then you may well find you need to mow sooner than this.

This first mow after winter needs to be done with a little care. The RHS suggest choosing the highest blade setting on your mower "to avoid choking the mower with clippings."

They go on to say that should the grass have got really long, a quick strim and rake might be required before mowing. The best cordless strimmers are great for tackling hard to reach areas of grass that have begun to get too long.  

It is also helpful to bear in mind that experts recommend keeping grass between 25mm and 50mm long and that you should avoid removing more than a third of the grass blade length at once.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.