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#1144796 - 10/04/07 02:25 PM
Winter Grass Length
HOF#13 Offline

Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 850
Loc: South Dakota
Ok lawn care professionals....Question.... Is it better to leave your lawn longer through the winter, or shorter, or does it not matter? I have been told both. I cut my lawn at 4" and have always just left it at that height for the last mow of the year, but some people swear by leaving it longer, or cutting it shorter for the winter.
Top Archived
#1144797 - 10/04/07 02:38 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: HOF#13]
Meat-Run Offline
Sr HSO Family

Registered: 09/21/06
Posts: 2528
Loc: Any town U.S.A.
I don't think there is a right or wrong lenght but what I do is cut my grass short as possible. Maybe even shorter than I would all summer. My reason is so when I rake my leaves in the fall there isn't much grass to "comb" through and it's easier to rake or blow them into a big pile with the leaf blower. My grass looks great every spring and easy to clean up after the snow melts.

my .02

mr
Top Archived
#1144798 - 10/04/07 03:48 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Meat-Run]
Powerstroke Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 12/08/03
Posts: 5635
Loc: Eden Prairie, MN USA
It's best to mow shorter in the fall, usually for the last one of the season. Normally go 1/2" to an inch lower depending on how short you mow during the year.

This will help prevent snow mold and other fungal problems from developing in the spring.

The only time I've heard of leaving it long is for people who do it to cover septic systems.
Top Archived
#1144799 - 10/04/07 08:30 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Powerstroke]
katoguy Offline

Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 01/25/01
Posts: 1238
Loc: Mankato, MN
Shorter grass keeps the voles away. I have terror pics to show what neighbors can do.
Top Archived
#1144800 - 10/04/07 09:44 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: HOF#13]
LwnmwnMan2 Offline

HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 2658
Loc: Stacy, MN
I'll either leave my properties at the same height, or if anything cut them about 1/2" shorter.

The cutting shorter though has more to do with making sure I do a good job with the fall cleanup, trying to suck everything out of the grass, than what height I'm cutting at.

Plus, if you cut just a 'hair' shorter, then more than likely when the grass is dormant, but before the snow, leaves aren't going to have quite as much to grab ahold as they're blowing from the neighbor's yard into yours, hopefully blowing right on through to the neighbor on the other side.
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#1144801 - 10/05/07 07:21 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: LwnmwnMan2]
HOF#13 Offline

Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 850
Loc: South Dakota
Hey, thanks alot everyone, I appreciate the responses. It looks like it's unanimous - cut it a 1/2" shorter.

Thanks again! Man, I love this site! Great people, great information!
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#1144802 - 10/05/07 07:27 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: HOF#13]
Ralph Wiggum Offline
HSO Legacy Member

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 5074
Loc: Crystal, MN
Thanks for asking! I was wondering the same thing the other day
Top Archived
#1144803 - 10/05/07 08:36 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Ralph Wiggum]
Scott K Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Pro Staff

Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 14939
Loc: Henderson, MN
Ok my question is, how do you know when it is your last cut of the year? If this rain and warmth keeps up we will be mowing into November
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#1144804 - 10/05/07 09:43 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Scott K]
LwnmwnMan2 Offline

HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 2658
Loc: Stacy, MN
Quote:

Ok my question is, how do you know when it is your last cut of the year? If this rain and warmth keeps up we will be mowing into November




When you wake up and your grass is now white...

When you bag up leaves, just count that as your last mow. If it starts to get shaggy looking (it'll slow down more and more, just not enough sunlight) and you have time to get it cut again, cut it again.

Our properties have been serviced as late as December 24th (leaves mostly) or we've been done as early as October 20th (snow).

You're not going to have a dead yard next spring if you leave your yard a little shaggy this fall. It's just a "suggestion" as a way to "hopefully" minimize winter damage.

I've seen yards where grass is 1.5" tall and there's still snowmold / vole damage.

The two biggest issues are snowcover, and then how severe the freeze / thaw / freeze / thaw cycle is next spring.

Much like trying to cover bushes. You're not trying to keep the heat in, you're trying to keep the frost in once the bush freezes.

A large area of concern with bushes is, that it gets warm in February, especially on the south side of a house, early March, so the bush starts to come out of dormancy. But then we get a lot of snow, or more cold, and ruin the new growth that started on said bush.

More and more bushes are becoming hardy for this zone, but there's just some suggestions and reasons why people do the things they do.
Top Archived
#1144805 - 10/08/07 08:11 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: LwnmwnMan2]
JustinG Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 709
Loc: Ely, MN
Ok, Now do you want the REAL answer on this one?

First off I will give you a little bio on myself:

I have been a Golf Course Superintendent for 10 years with 14 years experience working on 4 different golf courses. I manage 60 acres of turf and I also have a Turfgrass Management Degree. Blah Blah Blah. Anyways..

Starting around mid September, you should be leaving as much leaf material in tact as possible. Why? Because photosynthesis starts slowing down as the days get shorter and cooler. With photosynthesis slowing down, the grass plants are in the process of storing as much in the form of carbohydrate as possible at this time. Feeding is also important during this stage. You should be feeding your lawn with a 1:1 ratio of N to K. That means purchase a fertilizer such as a 12-0-12 (12%Nitrogen-0%Phosphorous-12%Potassium) for example. Apply the fertilizer at a rate according to a soil test reccomendation. Use a slow release (containg Water Insoluble Nitrogen or WIN) but, one that contains a little kick to it for some fast uptake. Something like Urea or Ammonium Phosphate or Potassium Nitrate would work.

Anyways, getting back. Leave your lawn at the longest length you can without having it look shaggy and unkempt. When fall arrives, your grass plants are internally storing carbohydrates, (Carbohydrates are Polysaccharides bonded with Disaccahrides to form long "chains". They are basically longer term food storage for plants). Carbohydrates are needed over the winter months to prevent the grass cells from freezing internally. Dormant grass is not dead...in fact, it is far from it during the winter months. Photosynthesis and respiration is still happening- it is just very, very slowly. The plants need all the food stored up as possible to survive long months under snow cover. That is why it is important to keep as much of the "Solar Collectors" or leaf area in tact as possible in the fall.

The Snow Mold Theory of "Mow it shorter to keep Snow Mold away" is the exact opposite of the truth. The shorter the turf, the MORE likely it will be struck with snow mold.

I just wanted to put away a few myths I have seen on this thread. Hope I was able to keep it in laymans terms...

Justin
Top Archived
#1144806 - 10/09/07 08:22 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: JustinG]
LwnmwnMan2 Offline

HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 2658
Loc: Stacy, MN
Justin - I agree with 100% of your post.

The comment about leaving as much leaf material intact as possible is hard to convince people of, not only in the fall, but all year.

I used to cut at 2" when I first started my business 19 years ago. Now I float between 3"-3.5", some properties are even cut at 4".

That's where I said I usually leave it at the same height, or if anything I cut 1/2" shorter because of the leaves.

Especially in a wet fall like this one is shaping up to be, leaves will get pushed down into the grass and it's a bear to get the wet leaves out. I would never cut SHORTER than an extra 1/2" on my properties, because I believe in leaving the grass as long as possible as well.

Once you can convince people that leaving the grass longer, they'll soon realize that diseases and weed infestation will be reduced dramatically, at least from my own experiences.

However, you start leaving it too long, then there's other issues as well.

Glad to have you aboard....
Top Archived
#1144807 - 10/09/07 04:07 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: LwnmwnMan2]
Powerstroke Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 12/08/03
Posts: 5635
Loc: Eden Prairie, MN USA
Fantastic info. I'm glad to be corrected about the snow mold thing. I worked for a nationwide lawn/tree care company for 5 years that was the rule every fall. I've never heard any different until now. The science and the logic of it makes perfect sense. I'm glad you helped clear this up.
Top Archived
#1144808 - 10/09/07 05:26 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Powerstroke]
JustinG Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 709
Loc: Ely, MN
Well, I am glad to be of service!

Have a nice fall, hopefully the rain will stop for awhile!

Justin
Top Archived
#1144809 - 10/11/07 10:37 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: JustinG]
Dave Offline

FishingMN Pro Staff

Registered: 01/18/00
Posts: 5908
Loc: Andover, MN
Been following this forum myself. I was gonna clip 'er short until I read this thread. THANKS.
Top Archived
#1144810 - 10/11/07 11:09 AM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Dave]
Bobby Bass Offline
Sr HSO Family

Registered: 04/27/05
Posts: 3703
Loc: lake Iwanttobethere
I tend to cut my properties on the high side. The lawn looks better and also fills in the bald spots/ thin spots. However at home I will mow the area that my dogs use lower as it it is easier to clean dog waste that I miss during the winter. Makes Spring cleaning easier. Must also take location in to consideration. Winter here in northern MN a little different then in Iowa
Top Archived
#1144811 - 10/22/07 09:20 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: JustinG]
LwnmwnMan2 Offline

HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 2658
Loc: Stacy, MN
Quote:

Ok, Now do you want the REAL answer on this one?

First off I will give you a little bio on myself:

I have been a Golf Course Superintendent for 10 years with 14 years experience working on 4 different golf courses. I manage 60 acres of turf and I also have a Turfgrass Management Degree. Blah Blah Blah. Anyways..

Starting around mid September, you should be leaving as much leaf material in tact as possible. Why? Because photosynthesis starts slowing down as the days get shorter and cooler. With photosynthesis slowing down, the grass plants are in the process of storing as much in the form of carbohydrate as possible at this time. Feeding is also important during this stage. You should be feeding your lawn with a 1:1 ratio of N to K. That means purchase a fertilizer such as a 12-0-12 (12%Nitrogen-0%Phosphorous-12%Potassium) for example. Apply the fertilizer at a rate according to a soil test reccomendation. Use a slow release (containg Water Insoluble Nitrogen or WIN) but, one that contains a little kick to it for some fast uptake. Something like Urea or Ammonium Phosphate or Potassium Nitrate would work.

Anyways, getting back. Leave your lawn at the longest length you can without having it look shaggy and unkempt. When fall arrives, your grass plants are internally storing carbohydrates, (Carbohydrates are Polysaccharides bonded with Disaccahrides to form long "chains". They are basically longer term food storage for plants). Carbohydrates are needed over the winter months to prevent the grass cells from freezing internally. Dormant grass is not dead...in fact, it is far from it during the winter months. Photosynthesis and respiration is still happening- it is just very, very slowly. The plants need all the food stored up as possible to survive long months under snow cover. That is why it is important to keep as much of the "Solar Collectors" or leaf area in tact as possible in the fall.

The Snow Mold Theory of "Mow it shorter to keep Snow Mold away" is the exact opposite of the truth. The shorter the turf, the MORE likely it will be struck with snow mold.

I just wanted to put away a few myths I have seen on this thread. Hope I was able to keep it in laymans terms...

Justin




Just thought I'd post a little update.....

First, October 22, channel 9, 9 pm news.... 1 of the 3 things to do now that's it's fall.... mow your grass 2" tall instead of 3" tall in the summer. Keeps fungus to a minimum, keeps it sheltered from the cold.......

Soooo.....

Also, yesterday I was talking with a prospective client that currently has a large national company fertilizing their property. They were told to cut the grass shorter to minimize the risk of snow mold...

What's funny is, channel 9 was using a person that sells product. The large national company has a HUGE sales office. Do you think that sometimes people tell others so that they're more likely to use more product down the road, rather than what's more likely healthier for the turf and the earth??
Top Archived
#1144812 - 10/23/07 07:38 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: LwnmwnMan2]
Powerstroke Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 12/08/03
Posts: 5635
Loc: Eden Prairie, MN USA
I'm not quite sure if its just propaganda or selling product or something that used to be the norm and only recently has things changed. I was always told that and I worded for a national lawn care company. We didn't mow, but we did provide the weed and feed and other services including fungicides.
Top Archived
#1144813 - 10/25/07 08:11 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Powerstroke]
JustinG Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 709
Loc: Ely, MN
Well, I gave you guys the science behind my answer. I will bet if you asked Channel 9 News or the lawn care company what the scientific basis for their answer is, you would probably get a blank look or an answer based solely on speculation.

For instance, I mow my greens at 1/8th of an inch, does that make them less prone to snow mold? I wouldn't have a job come spring time if I used that logic because my greens would be ravaged. I am not trying to sound like a know-it-all, but don't believe everything you hear.

Later guys,
Justin
Top Archived
#1338146 - 03/30/08 04:35 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: JustinG]
beer batter Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 11/14/03
Posts: 1107
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
So the snow has melted away leaving behind many patches of mold on the lawn. Does this mean my lawn was too long last fall? I would guess it to be around 2 inches. The places where I'm seeing mold is in the places where the snow is melting away last. Shadowy areas and hill sides where the sun doesn't reach well. As the snow/ice recedes, I'm seeing the moldy patches.

Now what do I do? I'm guessing it's too wet to rake at this point. Will it hurt the grass to leave the mold there until it dries out?
Top Archived
#1338181 - 03/30/08 05:11 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: beer batter]
LwnmwnMan2 Offline

HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 2658
Loc: Stacy, MN
I personally would say that 2" is too short, but that's just my opinion.

Also, yes, it's too early.

I saw some people yesterday and again out raking their yards.

It's not going to do any good, since we've still got soil temps in the upper 30's.

Still need a week of 50+ for the yards to agree that it actually is spring.

This next 5-10" of snow is just going to cover everything back up anyways.
Top Archived
#1338342 - 03/30/08 07:09 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: JustinG]
Quetico Offline
Sr HSOList.com Family

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 1422
Loc: Eagan
I'm an eco-friendly landscaper. So my answer to your turf questions is to make the conversion. ITS TIME FOR NO-MOW FESCUE LAWNS. Retire the lawn mower and fire the lawn service.

With a no-mow lawn this question would become irrelevant. You would mow the seed heads off your grass and thats all you need to mow it.
Top Archived
#1339501 - 03/31/08 03:17 PM
Re: Winter Grass Length [Re: Quetico]
FishingIdiot Offline
HSOShow.com Family

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 112
I left my grass long at the end of last season because it was supposed to keep it healthy - now my neighbors are telling me that I should have cut it short to avoid attracting the voles I now have.
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