Mowing the lawn regularly is an important part of lawn care and maintenance. It helps keep the grass trimmed to an even height and can play a role in making the lawn thicker and healthier. But does simply mowing the lawn help thicken it up?
Mowing alone does not thicken up a lawn. However, when done properly and combined with other care practices like watering, fertilizing, and aerating, regular mowing can encourage thick, dense grass growth over time.
Does Mowing Actually Thicken the Lawn?
On its own, mowing the lawn does not stimulate new growth or make the grass itself any thicker. Cutting the grass blades has no effect on the density, number, or quality of the grass plants in the lawn. It simply trims them to an even height.
However, mowing is still an important part of lawn thickness and health for a few reasons:
- It prevents overgrowth and competition – Letting the grass grow too tall allows the blades and canopy to become dense and crowded. This can cause the lawn to thin out over time as grass plants compete for light and other resources.
- It encourages even growth – Cutting all grass plants to the same height prevents some areas becoming too thick and others too thin. Even growth allows for optimal lawn density.
- It allows other practices to thrive – Proper mowing height and frequency creates ideal conditions for fertilizing, watering, aerating, and other thickness-promoting lawn care tasks.
So while the mowing itself does not stimulate new growth, it facilitates lawn care practices that do help thicken up the lawn when done consistently over time.
How Does Mowing Promote Thicker Grass?
Here are some of the main ways regular mowing helps create optimal conditions for a thicker lawn:
Prevents Overgrowth and Competition
Letting grass grow too tall causes thinning over time. Once the lawn exceeds the ideal mowing height for the grass type by more than 1-2 inches, the grass blades and canopy become dense and crowded. This leads to increased competition between individual grass plants for sunlight, nutrients, and water.
Without the resources to properly thrive, some grass can become weakened and thin out. Overly long blades also bend down on top of each other, blocking sunlight from reaching the lower grass plants. This essentially suffocates the lawn.
Trimming the lawn down to the appropriate height with regular mowing prevents overgrowth. This maximizes light availability and access to nutrients and moisture for all grass plants.
Encourages Even Growth Habits
Failing to mow specific areas of the lawn regularly leads to uneven growth. Some spots become tall and overgrown while others remain trimmed and tidy.
Having different grass heights and densities across the lawn can thin out the shorter areas over time. The overgrown sections hog sunlight, nutrients from fertilizer applications, and available water supply away from the rest of the lawn.
Mowing uniformly helps encourage all areas to grow at an even rate. This prevents defined thin and thick patches from developing.
Allows Other Thickness-Promoting Practices to Thrive
Proper mowing height and frequency creates the ideal growing environment for grass plants. This allows other important thickness-promoting lawn care practices to work effectively, including:
- Fertilizing – Grass fertilized at the right time with a properly balanced nutrient ratio will respond with lush, dense growth. Mowing ensures the fertilizer can easily reach the soil and be absorbed by the grass rather than becoming lost in overly tall growth.
- Watering – Appropriate lawn mowing height encourages deeper grass root systems. Deeper roots are better able to absorb moisture from irrigation and rainfall. Properly watered grass will fill in thicker.
- Aerating – Punching holes in the soil with aeration relieves compaction and allows nutrients, air, and water greater access to the grass roots. But aeration is only maximally effective on a lawn mowed to the proper height.
- Overseeding – Slits and gaps in the lawn are best filled in with grass seed when the surrounding area is mowed to the ideal height for new seedling growth and development.
Best Mowing Practices for Thick, Healthy Grass
Mowing at the right height, using sharp mower blades, and maintaining proper mowing frequency helps ensure a thick lawn. Here are some best practices:
Mow to Ideal Height for Grass Variety
Each grass type has an optimum mowing height range that should be maintained for lush thickness:
|Grass Type||Ideal Mowing Height|
|St. Augustine||2.5-4 inches|
|Kentucky Bluegrass||2-3 inches|
Use Sharp Blades for Clean Cuts
Dull mower blades tear and shred grass rather than cutting cleanly. This causes lawn damage and provides entry points for disease and pests. Investing in sharpening or replacing mower blades regularly results in clean cuts that help grass plants stay healthy and thick.
Maintain Proper Mowing Frequency
Grass should only ever be trimmed by 1/3 of its total height at a time. Mowing too much at once, known as scalping, stresses grass plants. For lush thickness, time mowing frequency so no more than the top 1/3 of grass height is removed.
During peak growing seasons, this usually means mowing every 4-7 days. Reduce mowing to once every 7-10 days during cooler weather when growth slows.
Combining Mowing with Other Thickness-Promoting Practices
While mowing alone does not affect lawn thickness, it serves as the foundation for growing a lush, dense lawn. The mowing practices outlined above allow the following additional thickness-boosting practices to work most effectively:
Applying grass fertilizer provides nutrients like nitrogen that encourage vigorous growth when other conditions are also ideal. Time fertilizer applications for peak effectiveness by:
- Fertilizing during the main growing seasons of spring and fall.
- Choosing a balanced fertilizer formula designed for the grass variety.
- Following product labels for correct application rate and method.
- Mowing 2-3 days after fertilizing to allow time for nutrient absorption while preventing too much increased growth.
Pulling plugs from the lawn provides the following thickness benefits:
- Alleviates soil compaction for better development of deep, dense roots.
- Provides space for air, water, and nutrients to fully reach grass roots.
- Enhances conditions for increasing microbial activity to support plant growth.
- Opens up space for new grass seed when overseeding thin or bare patches.
For best results, aerate the lawn in spring or fall when grass is actively growing. Mow 2-3 days before aerating to allow for deeper plug removal.
Overseeding with grass seed boosts lawn density by thickening up thin or bare patches. Ideal overseeding practices include:
- Mowing short and removing debris to establish good seed-to-soil contact.
- Choosing seed variety well-suited for growing conditions and compatible with existing grass type.
- Applying seed starter fertilizer to provide initial nutrients.
- Watering daily to keep seed bed moist for germination and establishment.
- Mowing high initially after germination and gradually lowering to normal height.
Proper lawn watering keeps grass consistently hydrated for optimal growth. Time and adjust watering schedules based on:
- Grass variety water requirements.
- Seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and temperature.
- Monitoring soil and lawn to provide enough water without oversaturating.
- Watering early to allow grass blades to dry during the day, reducing disease risk.
Improving Lawn Density Takes Time
While mowing height and frequency guidelines provide a foundation, transitioning to a thicker lawn is a gradual process. Noticeable increases in density can take 4-8 weeks or longer through consistent mowing and supporting lawn care practices.
Ongoing maintenance is also required. Proper mowing should be kept up as part of a seasonal lawn care plan. Fertilizing, aerating, overseeding, and watering also need to be adjusted over time to match changing environmental factors and the lawn’s evolving thickness goals.
When to Seek Professional Help for Lawn Thickness
DIY lawn care devotees can see great success improving lawn density on their own over time. However, various circumstances may call for professional expertise and equipment to revitalize lawn thickness quickly and effectively.
Seeking professional lawn care is recommended if the lawn is thinning due to any of the following underlying issues:
- Severe weed or pest infestation.
- Serious disease issues.
- Significantly compacted soil.
- Extensive bare or nearly bare patches.
- Drastic grading or drainage problems.
- Deterioration from excessive shade, traffic, tree roots, or other stresses.
- A need for complete reseeding/sodding due to grass variety mismatch or complete lawn failure.
The right lawn care professional has the expertise to diagnose underlying issues and the equipment and capabilities to correct them efficiently. This provides the restored starting point for ongoing DIY thickening practices to reach their full potential.
Mowing alone does not inherently thicken up a lawn. However, following proper mowing height, frequency, and technique makes it possible for other important thickness-building lawn care tasks to thrive. When paired with fertilization, aeration, overseeding, and proper watering over time, mowing serves as the foundation for transforming thin, patchy grass into a lush, dense lawn.