A frost covered lawn.

What’s the Ideal Grass Height for Winter Dormancy?

Mowing the grass at the right height before winter settles in helps it survive the snow and cold. The best grass height for winter generally depends on the type of grass and other factors. This article will discuss everything about it, along with maintenance tips and how to choose a lawn mower.

Understanding the Basics of Ideal Grass Height for Winter Dormancy

Most grass types enter dormancy in winter to get protection from the cold and to conserve energy. During this period, the grass becomes inactive and stops growing. You might notice your lawn turning brown and looking dead. But if the lawn is prepared for winter, it will easily bounce back in the spring. If not, it might be dead for real.

Mowing the grass at a recommended height is one of the crucial steps for winter preparation. Cold season presents a unique set of challenges for lawns, like the risk of developing winter fungal diseases and pest infestation. Mowing at the ideal height protects the grass from most of these issues.

The ideal grass height for winter dormancy varies depending on the grass type. The ideal mowing height range for warm-season grasses is 2 to 2 ½ inches high. Warm-season grasses need more sunlight to flourish. On the other hand, grasses that thrive in cooler temperatures, also called cool-season grasses, are typically cut to about 3 inches.

Differentiating Between Rye and Fescue Varieties for Best Results

Ryegrass and fescue grass are two grass types commonly found in Canadian lawns. So, let’s discuss more about these grass varieties.

Both fescue and ryegrass are cool-season grasses, but they still have differences. Ryegrass needs at least six hours of full sun exposure a day for optimal growth, density, and color. Neither grass can withstand high temperatures, but fescue grass prefers more shade than ryegrass.

As cool-season grasses, fescue and ryegrass do not stop growing in winter. They are strong grass types, which is why they are usually planted in sports fields, playgrounds, hotels, and other places with high lawn foot traffic. They enter dormancy when the daily temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

Tips for Maintaining Ideal Grass Height During Fall and Winter

Depending on the type of grass you’re growing in your lawn and the temperature in your area, you may still need to continue mowing even in winter. It’s crucial to keep the grass less than three inches during cold months, no matter its type. Below, we’ll discuss why you shouldn’t keep the grass too tall or short.

When mowing the grass in winter, there are a few rules to follow.

  1. Don’t mow the lawn when the ground is wet or the grass is frozen. If you cut the grass under these conditions, you’ll be causing serious damage to your lawn.
  2. Never remove more than 1/3 of your grass blades in one mowing session.
  3. Remove all debris and cuttings from your lawn. They will only prevent the grass from absorbing the sunlight they need.
  4. Feed your lawn to keep it healthy and strong.

If you’re growing grasses that go dormant in winter, fall is likely the perfect time to give your lawn one last trim before it goes to sleep. You can follow the same rules mentioned above. The important thing to remember when mowing in the fall is to get the timing right. The perfect time for the last fall grass cutting will vary depending on soil temperature and your local weather conditions.

Pros and Cons of Cutting Grass Too High or Too Low

Is it better to leave your lawn long or short for winter? The answer is to keep the grass in the ideal mowing height range.

Some people cut their lawns so short, thinking they’ll have to mow less. This strategy may buy you a few extra days between mowing, but your lawn will likely pay a price in the long run.

While cutting grass short may lead to beautiful, dense turf grass, it also stresses your lawn. Cutting grass is like pruning plants. If you mow too low, the grass won’t have enough leaf surfaces that could photosynthesize, and it can weaken the grass.

Leaving the grass to grow too long isn’t good either. Frost and snow in winter can fold long grass blades, making the grass susceptible to rotting and fungal diseases. But there are also a few benefits to mowing high. It minimizes the risk of scalping, promotes the establishment of a more robust root system, and controls weeds by shading the soil surface.

When you can’t remember the ideal mowing height of grass for winterstick to this rule of thumb: do not mow more than half of your lawn’s total height.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Lawn Mower for Ideal Grass Height

If you don’t have a mower and are planning to purchase one soon, keep these tips in mind. You’ll find various lawn mowers in the market, so choosing the best one can get overwhelming. To make decision-making easier, consider these factors to get the right machine for your needs.

Lawn Size

You can use a lawn mower of any size on any lawn. But the issue here will be the mowing efficiency. Smaller mowers cover smaller areas, so using them on huge lawns will take too much time and effort. Large lawn mowers may be appealing no matter the size of your lawn, but maneuverability and storage space can become an issue if you have a smaller space.


Mowers nowadays come with bells and whistles. Some are equipped to handle mulching and bagging clippings. This type of mower is called a two-function mower. There’s also a three-function mower that features side discharging in addition to mulching and bagging.

The Terrain

The level of mobility of lawn mowers varies. A standard push mower can turn easily, making it ideal in a level yard. However, it may not be the best choice for uneven lawns with obstacles.

Lawn Mower Maintenance

Like any piece of equipment, lawn mowers require maintenance to stay functional. A properly maintained lawn mower with a sharp blade ensures a clean cut, which minimizes the damage and stress on the grass. Some mowers are high-maintenance, while others are not. Determine how much maintenance work you’re willing to do when choosing mowing equipment.

Strategies for Keeping Your Lawn Healthy and Beautiful in the Cold Season

Maintaining a healthy lawn in winter requires strategic care. In addition to proper mowing, continue regular watering to prevent dehydration, but adjust frequency based on temperature and precipitation. Apply a winter fertilizer rich in potassium to strengthen the lawn’s resilience. Ensure you clear fallen leaves promptly to prevent mold and disease. Aerate the soil to enhance water absorption and nutrient uptake. Lastly, avoid heavy foot traffic on frozen grass to prevent damage.

Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Lush Year-Round With LawnMart

All these tasks can be tedious, time-consuming, and back-breaking. LawnMart is here to do all the heavy lifting for you. We won’t mow for you, but we can help take care of your lawn the natural way all year round. Contact us for more information or to get a free quote.

Winter Mowing FAQs

What height should I cut grass for winter?

It depends on the type of grass you have. But generally, the average mowing height for winter is between 2 to 3 inches. Ask a lawn care expert near you to determine the precise mowing height for your lawn.

How tall should grass be in summer vs. winter?

Again, it depends on the type of grass you have and your location. But you should keep the grass slightly taller in summer and a bit shorter in winter.

Does grass grow in winter?

It depends on your location. Grass can still grow in winter as long as the temperature does not drop below 10 degrees Celcius.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.