No matter what size lawn you have, you know it has to be cut regularly through the growing season. Most of us backyard turf masters use a gas or electric-powered mower. But what if you have a small yard or the lawnmower is broken—or you have a lot of time on your hands? You might be wondering how to cut grass without a mower…
Whatever the reason, we’ve compiled a few clever options for those of you who want to give mower-less grass cutting a try and still maintain a healthy and attractive lawn.
Before we get started let’s be clear on something. The fastest way to mow your entire lawn, especially if you have a large yard, is to use a lawnmower.
However, if you have a very small lawn or just a few small areas with grass, going mower-less may be a great and budget-friendly option for you.
In fact, you might be surprised to learn that alternative methods are available and can be quite effective.
Ways to Cut Grass Without a Lawnmower
Over the years we have talked to a number of homeowners who don’t need or use a mower.
This is usually because:
- There is only a little bit of grass that doesn’t justify a mower.
- They can’t afford a lawn mower.
- The grass has gotten too tall to use a mower.
- Environmental concerns regarding emissions or power used by electric and gas mowers.
- A lack of confidence when it comes to maintaining, starting, and/or using a traditional mower.
- The mower isn’t running (of course this happens when the grass is in desperate need of a trim a solution is needed pronto)
Below you will find a variety of different ways to trim your lawn without using a mower.
Unlike a lawnmower, a string trimmer doesn’t take up much storage room, making it a great tool if you don’t have the space to store a mower.
Many people who have a yard already have a string trimmer (also known as a weed eater or weed whacker) to knock down weeds in the grass or flower beds, so it makes sense that you can run your weed whacker over the lawn to keep it cut.
If your trimmer is electric, make sure you’ve got a long enough extension cord to reach the whole yard. It’s a pain to run out of power cord and have to keep unplugging and replugging to finish. Better yet, buy a cordless, battery-powered model that gives you free rein to move around the lawn.
A string trimmer is a great option for an overgrown lawn that is full of long grass that a mower can’t handle.
Talk about going old school; cutting tall grass with a scythe evokes images of American pioneers on the prairie. But, for an environmentally friendly mowing option, slinging a scythe is it.
Basically, a scythe is a tool with a sharp, double-sided blade, usually curved, that you swing back and forth as you walk through the grass. With a handle of about four feet in length, it definitely takes some practice to master the smooth, even swing needed to cut down the grass evenly.
Traditional scythes work best when the grass is slightly wet, like after light rain or early morning dew. You’ll need to make sure the large metal blade stays sharp too. Otherwise, cuts will be ragged and rough.
There are variations of the scythe that can also be used to cut the grass:
- Weeding sickle: Basically a scythe with a shorter handle, usually about two feet in length.
- Grass whip: A modern version that has a straighter handle and a slightly curved blade.
- Sling blade: Not just a great Billy Bob Thorton movie, it’s also a common tool with a 30-inch handle and a flat, double-sided, serrated blade.
Another plus is that this tool makes cutting grass a peaceful and quiet as possible. If you’re worried about lawn mowing etiquette, you know this will make your neighbors happy. Especially if you like to get your yard work done early.
Hedge trimmers look like an extra-long chainsaw turned on its side. Someone took the idea of garden shears and gave us the hedge trimmer with its powered, double-sided, vibrating blade that effectively slices through weeds, grass, and shrubbery.
Hedge trimmers make a pretty good alternative to a lawnmower but will take some practice to perfect just the right motion for an even cut. They’ll work best on taller grass; with shorter grass, you’ll have to bend quite low to the ground to ensure the blade actually meets the grass.
Safety Tip: Hedge trimmers can cause injury or damage if you accidentally cut someone or something. Make close attention to the surrounding area and keep an eye out for pets and children. Be sure to steer clear of the power cord if using an electric model.
Cutting grass with garden shears might be considered “shear madness” but for those with a postage stamp yard and lots of time, these are an option to consider. Garden shears are simply big scissors with overly long cutting blades.
The best way to use shears gets you up close and personal with your lawn. You’ll need to get down on all fours, (or sit on a garden cart) hold the blades parallel to the lawn, and cut carefully but firmly to get a nice, even cut. If you twist the shears or pull rather than cut, you’ll wind up with an uneven cut or uprooted clumps of grass.
We definitely wouldn’t suggest using this method if your dealing with large areas, but this can be an easy solution for pathways or a little island of grass in your yard.
Be sure you get started make sure you grab of pair of gardening gloves and knee pads to make the process as pain free as possible.
Cordless Grass Trimmers
For an alternate method to using human-powered garden shears, try a set of wrist-friendly cordless grass clippers.
Battery-powered Grass Clippers are what we like to call the “beard trimmers” of the lawn mowing world.
They’re great to have on hand for those times when you can’t or don’t want to use a mower.
Perfect for trimming in tight spots or small areas, they are a great tool that every homeowner should keep on hand.
One attachment looks like a mini-hedge trimmer blade, and the other looks like giant scissors with multiple blades. You can use either attachment to cut small sections of grass with less muscle required than handheld shears.
Grazing goats, sheep, or cows in the front yard of a suburban home will definitely raise some eyebrows with the HOA, but there is some merit to using grass-chewing animals to keep your grass cut.
Those in rural areas or with larger areas of grass to maintain (and no HOA rules to worry about) should definitely consider adding a few of these ruminant animals to the mix.
- Sheep are the clear favorite. They love to eat grass, and they won’t chow down on things they shouldn’t—like shrubbery. While not the fastest, they are steady grazers and effective at keeping a lawn neat. Like residents of one Ohio town, you may even be able to rent out sheep for your lawn care needs.
- Goats are known for eating pretty much anything. While they do eat grass, it’s not their first choice for a meal, preferring weeds, leaves, shrubbery, and hay. Goats may be faster eaters than sheep, but you run the risk of losing your bushes and flowering plants in the process.
- Cows aren’t really a serious option for city dwellers; let’s just leave them to those who have a field for a yard. However, it’s worth noting that a few cows can cut down a good-sized area in just a few hours.
More Lawn Care Tools You’ll Love
How do you cut tall grass without a mower?
If your lawn is overgrown, the last thing you should do is chop it down all at once. For the health of your lawn it’s important that you never trim more than 1/3 of the blade height off at a time. Doing so can put extreme stress on the grass and cause severe damage.
All of the tools above can help you to cut tall grass without a mower, with our favorites being a weed eater or hedge trimmer. These tools give you the control you need to make sure you just trim off the top.
If your grass is so tall that you have trimmed a third of it and it’s still too tall, give it 3-5 days to recover then trim another third.
Can you cut grass with scissors?
You can, but it will be very time consuming. The blade length of scissors is simply too short to make good progress quickly. Instead scissors are best used around things like sprinkler heads or in tight spaces.
Honestly, at the end of the day, most of us aren’t likely to trade in our electric or gas lawnmower and go all-in on one of these genius grass-cutting ideas. But for those who want eco-friendly options that may work in the right place, you’ve now got some legit possibilities to keep your lawn looking good without using a mower.