How to Cut Grass That Is Too Long

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We’ve all been there. Sometimes you let your lawn get way to long and you may be wondering about what is the best way to cut it down to size. If you have to cut grass that is too long or out of control, don’t panic. Although the process of cutting overgrown grass is very simple, there are a few things that you need to be aware.

When you’re trying to mow a lawn that is massively overgrown, it is very easy for the vents in your lawn mower to get clogged and the engine to overheat. It’s also more likely that you’ll need to take care of weeds after your first cut; these are much more likely to appear during this time and will need to be taken care of in order to prevent bare patches from appearing.

Mowing an overgrown lawn can be extremely satisfying so continue reading to learn how to cut grass that is too long. 

Evaluate the Situation

When you notice that your grass is too long, the first step is to assess your lawn and determine the scope of the project.

You need to get an idea of how long your grass is before you can determine what your initial steps should be.

In some cases, it may be massively overgrown and in others you may have left it just a few weeks longer than you should have.

Your approach to each case will be slightly different but you should never cut more than one third of the grass at one time. This means that you will either need to raise your mower up to the correct setting or even use a grass trimmer first. 

Check for debris in the grass

Before you begin cutting any of the grass, the first step is to go through the yard and check for any debris that maybe in the lawn. When your grass is long, there’s the possibility that large twigs or branches are hiding up under the grass. You should be aware of these and it’s important for you to remove them since these items will could potentially damage your equipment.

Use a Grass Trimmer for the First Cut

It’s important to remember that you should never cut the grass down by more than a third of its height at any one time with your lawn mower.

If you cut too much of the lawn at once, you could potentially damage or kill the grass.

If you do not have an adjustable mower or you don’t know how to go about doing this, you can use a grass trimmer or a scythe to take the top few centimeters off.

It’s definitely easier to do it this way, and it is much better for your mower too. 

Your lawn mower can have trouble with grass that is too long because it can get clogged up and overheat.

You can start with the trimmer or the scythe and then you can water the grass again and let it recover before you cut it with the mower.

Raise Your Mower and Cut the Grass

Even though you may have taken the top of the grass off with a grass trimmer, you probably need to raise your mower all the way up to the highest level it will go to before you begin to cut the grass. Usually this will be at around 6”, but it will depend on the mower you are using.

You still want to follow the rule that you cannot cut more than a third of the grass. If you cut too much of the grass at the same time, it may cause the grass to turn a yellow color.

Next, go ahead and remove the mulch plug. We need to bag to avoid getting clumps in the lawn.

Pick any direction you wish and begin mowing. Take your lawn striper off for this. This is not the time to be pressing the grass down. One the second pass, mow in the opposite direction to the first cut. For example, if your first cut was from north to south, the second pass should be from east to west.

You want to do this when the weather is cool and in order to avoid damaging the lawn, multiple cuts are not something you want to be doing too often. It’s ok to do this every once in a while, but try to keep a consistent and regular lawn care practice for the best results.

Finally, once you have mowed the lawn to the correct height, you should water the grass again to help it to recover. It may seem tedious to cut your grass in these steps, but this is the best way to make sue its help in the healthiest state possible.

Finish Cutting the Grass and Removing Weeds

If you need to cut your grass one more time to make sure that it is short enough, go ahead and do it a few weeks after the previous cutting.

The next stage involves removing the weeds in your lawn. This is important to because you don’t want to end up with patches of lawn that have no grass. Weeds can damage the remaining grass and it’s difficult to achieve that aesthetic lawn look with patches caused by weeds, so you’ll want to waste no time in getting rid of them. 

Scarify the Lawn

Before you start to scarify the lawn, you need to prepare it. You will first need to look over the yard to locate and remove any perennial weeds. These are more likely to be present if the grass was overgrown and can be removed by a cheap weed remover manually.

Although it’s a little time consuming, using tools like this weeder (link to Amazon) are excellent for getting under the roots to pop out the weeds.

Finding as many of these as possible and digging them out will prevent the scarifier from cutting up the perennial roots and recycling them back into the lawn which could leave you with even more weeds.

In Order to Scarify a Lawn, You Will Need…

  1. Lawn mower
  2. Scarifier – Although it’s possible to do this by hand with a rake, it’s a lot harder work so we recommend using an electric scarifier.
  3. High quality grass seed to overseed the lawn with.
  4. Tools – for general maintenance

How To Scarify the Lawn

Once you have the above items, you are now ready scarify the lawn.  Scarifying the lawn is a very similar to process to using a lawn mower.

An electric scarifier looks similar to a lawn mower at a first glance. On the bottom, you will see a selection of steel blades which spin into contact with the turf. As a result, the blades cut through the top layer and this pulls out all of the thatch and severs the grass which stimulates new growth. Scarifying the lawn removes thatch, dead grass, moss and other debris.

It’s a fairly rough process that may leave an initial unappealing look however the good news is, you will end up with a lawn that looks a lot fuller once it has recovered about 4-6 weeks later. It’s the best thing you can do to get your lawn looking amazing.  You can also aerate the turf after scarifying the lawn if you want to go all out.

Again, it is important to stress here that your lawn will not look great immediately after scarifying. Don’t panic! This is normal. Just be patient and in six weeks time when the new chutes start to come up, you will be able to see all the fruits of you hard work.

After a few passes with the scarifier, you should expect to see plenty of dead grass, moss and other debris on the lawn.

Finally, we recommend using the lawn mower once again as you would do normally. This step is optional but this is a great way to pull up anything else that may be on the surface of your lawn.


Once you have finished cutting the grass, getting rid of any weeds and scarifying the lawn, you now want to add some seed to the yard. This will help bring some new growth to the lawn which it now needs.

To do this, split your lawn seed into two buckets. Perform once pass with one bucket and then go the other way with the other bucket to make sure you have evenly distributed the seed. Give it a good water and you’re done.

You can fertilize the seeds after you apply them as long as it isn’t close to winter. You never want to fertilize the grass when it is getting close to the time that it will go dormant. 

I recommend this starter fertilizer from Scotts (link to Amazon). It’s great for new grass! It also has weed preventer in it too.

In addition, you need to consider protecting the seeded areas. This is so that birds aren’t able to fly down and eat them.

Your grass will grow more quickly than you might realize, and it won’t take too long!

And you’re done! Hopefully a few weeks has passed and you have been successful is getting your lawn looking good. It’s important that you make sure to commit to a regular lawn care routine. Be sure that you water and mow it regularly so that it doesn’t get out of control again and this way you’ll keep your grass in the best shape possible. 

Final Words – How to Cut Grass That Is Too Long

Sometimes people find that their lawn grows too long. It can happen more quickly than you might think and it can certainly be overwhelming to look at it. You may have no idea what to do about it, but if you want to know how to cut grass that is too long, the above steps will be enough to get you back on track. 

First, you need to assess the situation and look at how long the grass is and what kind of debris is in the yard. Then, you can use a grass trimmer or a scythe to trim the top off of the grass. Be sure to give it time to recover and water it before you cut it again. 

Next, you can raise your mower and cut one third of the grass off the top. It may still be long, but you need to take your time so that you don’t overstress the grass. You can water it again and allow it to recover. You can cut it again if you need to, or you can get to work making sure that the weeds are removed. Once the weeds are removed, the final step is to reseed the lawn.

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