Each weekend in spring, summer and fall, millions of people fire up their mowers and cut the grass in their yards. A few hours spent mowing the lawn can be a great time to get some sun and some exercise in the great outdoors.
As fall gradually transitions to winter, homeowners may wonder when to stop mowing their lawns. Each lawn is different, and when to stop mowing may depend on a host of factors including local climate and the type of turf. In addition to climate and turf, you can keep an eye on these conditions to determine when the time is right to put your mower away for the winter.
Frost: Warm-season grasses typically go dormant after a couple of significant frosts. Make note of each frost during fall. Frosts are most noticeable in the early morning hours, so be sure to check lawn conditions each morning as the weather begins to grow cold. Frost can sometimes be noticeable without even going outside, but you may need to go outside to check on days when the previous night was especially cold. If you must go outside, stay off the grass to protect it. Two or three frosts might be enough to make warm-season grasses go dormant for the winter. Cool-season grasses may keep growing and require mowing even after a few frosts, so it’s imperative that you determine which type of grass is in your yard.
Soil temperature: If it’s hard to determine whether frost has occurred, you can try checking the temperature of your soil to decide if you need to keep mowing. Lawns may not grow as quickly in fall as they do in spring or summer, and growth may not be as visible to the naked eye during this time of year as it is in other times. Homeowners can routinely check soil temperature to determine if their grasses have stopped growing. Warm-season grasses tend to stop growing once the soil temperature is consistently at 55 F or below, while cool-season grasses tend to stop when temperatures are 45 F or lower.
Falling leaves have long been a barometer used by homeowners to determine if they need to keep mowing their lawns. That’s not necessarily a reliable metric, as grass can still keep growing even if leaves have been falling for weeks. In addition, using a mulching mower when leaves begin falling is a great way to provide the lawn with nutrients it can use throughout the winter. Some trees shed their leaves more quickly than others, but it’s a good idea to keep lawns mowed if trees are still retaining more than half of their leaves.
Homeowners can keep an eye on these conditions to determine when the time is right to put their mowers away for the winter.