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How Short to Cut Grass Before Winter?

There is a persistent rumour going around that cutting your lawn extremely short before the winter is beneficial, or even necessary to avoid growing mould under the snow.  (I also think that many people think somehow that cutting extra short will somehow turn your lawn mower into a leaf-sucking vacuum cleaner??)

This seems to arise from a misunderstanding about the plant health problems lawn debris can cause if left over the winter. Some people seem to think that leaving ‘long’ grass leaf blades on your lawn will invite the same mould problems a carpet of tree leaves would.

Wondering how short to cut grass before winter?

Here’s how short to cut grass before winter: The best length to cut grass before winter is 2.5-3 inches.  If you cut the blade too short, your grass may go hungry over the winter and will likely spend the spring recovering from shock.  This is the same mantra we repeat all summer and is true even in the fall.  There is never a valid time to mow down bluegrass, ryegrass, or fescues shorter than their ideal healthy height.

Stop shaving your grass down in the fall.

Perennial plants store food for the winter as temperatures drop in fall, and your grass is no exception. Grass stores carbohydrates in its roots and crown – the part of the grass plant right above the soil that the leaf blades grow from. Cutting too short shocks the grass, makes it harder for the plant to absorb the sun’s rays, and can easily damage the crown of the grass plant.

Mould grows on damp organic matter with poor air flow. If the debris – such as leaves – is in small enough pieces air can flow properly and it will break down quickly. Mould doesn’t have a chance to get started!

Three studies by Michigan State University showed that if leaves are mulched to dime-sized pieces 100 pounds of leaves (in an area as small as 1000 square feet) will break down easily . You don’t even need special equipment, a few passes of a sharpened blade on a mulching lawn mower will do the job. That means less raking and bagging, and fewer trucks hauling leaves to community compost or worse, landfill. Plus your lawn gets all those nutrients back! Just make sure you are having your lawn fertilized with a proper blend of nitrogen fertilizer to help complete the decompostion process.

Shredded leaves and fallen conifer needles also make good mulch under trees, helping to prevent moisture loss and returning nutrients to the roots. Rake or blow the needles or mulched leaves under a stand of trees and they will also benefit.

 

3 Steps to Winterizing Your Lawn

Tools needed: rake, lawn mower

Step 1: Cut grass the optimal length before winter

The best length to cut grass before winter is 2.5-3 inches. If you cut the blade too short, your grass may go hungry over the winter and will likely spend the spring recovering from shock.

Step 2: Let grass have room to absorb sun rays

Grass stores carbohydrates in its roots and crown – the part of the grass plant right above the soil that the leaf blades grow from. Cutting too short shocks the grass, makes it harder for the plant to absorb the sun’s rays, and can easily damage the crown of the grass plant.

Step 3: Rake or blow the mulched leaves under trees.  

Shredded leaves and fallen conifer needles also make good mulch under trees, helping to prevent moisture loss and returning nutrients to the roots.

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  • Coping with Covid Update: (updated 06/01/20)

    Hi Everyone, 

    I’m happy to share some good news during these crazy times. LawnSavers is servicing lawns in all areas as lawn care and pest control services that provide for lawn health are officially on the Provincial list of essential services due to the fact we can provide this service safely and with no personal contact!

    We do not expect any delay in our regular timing of applications (except from the brief wintry weather in May).  We put together an easy to read lawn care service timeline that you can use to know when to expect us for each scheduled service in your package. 

    I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and customers.  Safety and honesty are our two most important core values.  We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines that ensure “zero touch”.  We will not let our guard down on exercising our safety protocols!

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    Thank you all for your understanding and patience during these challenging times. Our team works hard, so if you are met with our exceptional service from our technicians or office team members- please give them a thumbs up to make them smile or let me know through a quick email to feedback@lawnsavers.com

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    Kyle Tobin
    Chief Environmental Officer