I have some tall grass in my back yard and I would love to cut it but I am worried I could kill it by cutting like more than 80-90% (Hopefully not exaggerating) will kill the plant. Should I try to slowly cut it down to size or would it be fine if I gave it enough water. I would like to not have a brown patch in the back yard, even though it will not be seen to easy.

4 Answers 4


The lower parts of the grass probably aren't green right now because they're not getting much light or good air circulation.

It's usually not recommended to cut more than 1/3rd of the grass at a time. So you'd cut it down to 24", wait a few days then cut it down to 16", wait a few more days and cut it down to about 11" and so on. Well take about 6 or 7 cuttings depending how fast it grows in between cuttings.

With grass that high though it still may have other issues.

If it were me I'd just cut it down all in one shot or maybe 2 because it looks bad. Maybe bring it down too about 1ft with a string trimmer then about a week later go through the area with a take to clean up rocks and other debris and hit it with the mower on the highest setting then work down to your desired height.

Try to avoid mowing when the temp is greater than 90f. Start maintaining the lawn after you cut it. Give it some fertilizer and mow it regularly. Outs not going to l look great right after you cut it but it will recover. In the fall overseed it to help fill in any week areas which you'll undoubtedly have.

There was a similar question recently and you might find my answer to that one helpful as well. https://gardening.stackexchange.com/a/25308/2448

  • I'm a little puzzled by the regular info I see on here about not cutting grass by more than a certain amount each time. Is it because the grasses you grow for lawns there are not the same grasses we grow here in the UK? I have many times cut long grass down to 3 inches straightaway - if its really long, it looks brown underneath, but soon greens up and its fine. But that's in the UK, where lawns are always comprised of the same mix of grasses (fescue, bents,rye and the like), so I'm wondering...
    – Bamboo
    Jun 13, 2016 at 23:15
  • @Bamboo same types of grass in my area. I've seen lawns go unmaintained that are mowed once or a month or less the overall lawn tends to get weak and more prone to develop weeds and disease. I think when the grass goes to seed it may also introduce some undesirable grasses but that's just based on my observation from afar. I see more bare patches develop too. When the grass gets too high then cut drastically energy is put into shoot development and roots stop growing. Can lead to too much stress when heat comes in without water. See ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/TURF/ESTABLISH/onethird.html Jun 14, 2016 at 0:04
  • thanks for the info. Agree that cutting infrequently and taking off a lot, or too short, all the time causes problems, but I wonder whether our weather makes a difference - Ive often cut an overgrown lawn right down (in different gardens), but only the once - thereafter, its been properly maintained, and there's been no problem.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 14, 2016 at 1:07

Turf care position: Oh Noes!!! Also, 2" is too short, unless you are going for a golf-green, which is a whole other level of fuss (and even shorter.) 3" is about as short as you should cut normal lawn grass. Among other things, cutting the top too short kills off the roots which makes it less able to get water for itself. Taller grass equals deeper roots.

Practical "whacking the overgrown stuff in the orchard": it will probably live. I can't say I care much if that stuff turns a bit brown for a while, so I suppose it might. But you might want to put your mower as high as it goes, then give it a week, then cut it back to 3". But hayfeilds put up with "several feet" to "a few inches" multiple times a year without expiring....


It sounds like you're trying to make hay.

follow these steps:

  • Cut it down
  • collect it (so it doesn't cover your good grass)
  • use it for animal feed, or take it to the compost pile

No it may look dead for a while but it's fine. Grass is pretty tough go ahead chop it down and let it get some sun.

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