As any gardener knows, a beautiful, finely-manicured lawn doesn’t just happen – it requires a lot of care and a certain amount of hard work. Along with tasks like watering and fertilizing your lawn, mowing is one of the key jobs that will help your grass stay lush and healthy.
There are many aspects to cutting your grass, like how often and how much you should mow – and we’ll touch on these briefly at the end – but first, we need to deal with the central question concerning the best time of day to mow lawn. Let’s look at this now.
The best time to mow: mid-morning
The general consensus among gardeners is that the optimal time to mow your lawn is between around 8 am to 10 am. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Before 8 am, your grass may still be damp from dew, from rain or from your automatic irrigation system (in many cases, around 5 am is the ideal moment to give your grass a drink). However, by about 8 am, your lawn should mostly have dried out and will be ready for a trim.
After 10 am, temperatures begin to rise, which is worse for you, worse for your grass and worse for your mower. If you cut when it is too hot, your grass will be under increased stress, your lawn mower may overheat, and you won’t particularly enjoy the activity either.
The next best time to mow: late afternoon
If you can’t drag yourself out of bed at the weekend early enough to mow between the hours of 8 am and 10 am, all is not lost – you can opt for the second-best option, which is late afternoon, around 4 pm to 6 pm.
Again, by this time, the worst of the midday heat has passed, and temperatures begin to cool – as we have already mentioned, this is better for you, your grass and your mower.
However, it is still early enough to give your grass time to recover before nightfall. The grass is at its most susceptible to attack by fungal infections after dark, and if it has just been cut, it will be weakened further, inviting diseases to strike.
For this reason, not mowing too late in the day will allow the grass to recover sufficiently to be able to resist infection during the night.
Best to avoid: early morning
For people who hate mornings, we have some good news – there’s no need to get out of bed early to cut your lawn since 6 am to 8 am is the worst time to do it.
Early in the morning, your grass will still be wet – either from dew, from rain or from irrigation – and wet grass may clog up and damage your mower.
Furthermore, rolling a mower over wet lawn may damage the grass, leave visible ruts and compact the soil – none of which are things you want. For all these reasons, you’re better off just staying in bed and doing it a bit later in the day.
Also avoid: midday
Another time best avoided is midday. This is when the sun is at its highest and hottest, and mowing the lawn at this time will put your grass under the most stress.
Remember, a lawn consists of thousands of tiny plants, and cutting the tops off them all and then exposing them to the scorching sun is clearly not something they are going to appreciate.
Also, this is when your lawnmower will become hottest – as will you – so for these reasons too, midday is a good time not to mow.
And also avoid: evening
From everything we’ve already said, you can probably guess that evening is also not ideal. Yes, it’s cooler, so you and your lawn won’t be sweltering under the midday sun, but the grass won’t have enough time to recover before nightfall.
As we mentioned, this is when grass is most at risk of being attacked by fungal infections, so it’s best not to cut the lawn too late to give it plenty of time to recover.
A couple of caveats
Of course, up to now, we have been talking about some imaginary average climate where it is cool at night, there is dew in the morning and it is hot at midday – however, this is not always the case.
In reality, conditions change throughout the year, they change depending on where you live, and they change from one year to the next – so you need to adapt your mowing schedule to your local situation.
For example, if it rained heavily last night, don’t wait patiently until the clock strikes 8 am and then wheel out your mower because the grass will still be wet. Similarly, if the weather is cool at midday and there is no burning sun overhead, mowing is fine. Use your common sense.
When you mow your lawn is important, but it’s not the only consideration. Here are a couple of other useful tips you should know about cutting your grass.
- Always use sharp blades
One of the most important tips to remember is to always use sharp blades. Blunt blades will tear the grass instead of cutting it, damaging the plants and putting them under extra stress.
- Mow little and often
The best way to keep your grass healthy is to mow little and often. It’s much better to take a little off the top once a week than to go and scalp it once every month.
This kind of mowing schedule will encourage healthy growth while also promoting deeper root development – putting your grass in a better position to withstand drought conditions later.
- Follow the “one-third” rule
Even if you do accidentally allow your grass to grow too long, always follow the “one-third” rule – never cut more than a third of its length in one go. If you do, you will be putting it under extra stress, making it more susceptible to disease or drought.
Look after your grass and understand when to cut it
As we have explained, there are good times of day and bad times of day to cut the lawn. However, as long as you understand why these rules apply, you don’t need to regard them as being set in stone. If you need to cut your lawn in the middle of a mild and overcast day, it will still be ok – your grass might not enjoy it, but it won’t suddenly all die off and need replacing.