How to Mow Tall Grass: Take Back Your Overgrown Lawn

Your lawn has grown to exceptional heights beyond the capabilities of the standard lawnmower, and it’s high time to deal with it. But now your wondering how to mow tall grass when it’s completely out of control.

This how-to guide will give you the advice and tips you need to get started.

How to mow tall grass | Lawn mower cutting an overgrown lawn

Before taking on a project of this magnitude, consider renting or borrowing a ride-on mower from your local hardware store. If your property is large enough to require a tractor, then leasing one for a few hours might be necessary to mow tall grass.

However, if this doesn’t fit in your budget, follow these steps to cut high grass back down to size:

Safety First

First off, safety should always come first when operating any lawn equipment!

When mowing tall grass, make sure there are no children or pets nearby before getting started.

Always wear closed-toe shoes and gloves when mowing overgrown grass. Don’t forget to slip on your safety goggles to protect your eyes.

Also, make sure the grass is dry before you get started. Wet grass clumps up and becomes difficult to cut. Dry conditions are traditionally best for mowing. That being said, be sure to follow all safety guidelines during the summer months when fire risk is high.

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Measure The Height of Your Lawn

You’ve noticed the grass on your lawn seems to have grown to an uncommon height, and you need to give it a good trim. But, before you whip out your trusty lawnmower to start working your way around the lawn, there’s something very important you need to do first. 

The first step of cutting an overgrown lawn is measuring the average grass height. You can do this easily with any type of measuring tape or ruler. Measure from ground level up to the tip of your grass and note the height.

You must measure your lawn’s height before busting out any power tools because this will help you more accurately determine which tool can complete the task bests. 

A lawn is typically considered “overgrown” when its height exceeds six inches, and the grass grows in thick masses. 

If your grass hasn’t reached this height, it isn’t truly overgrown yet, and you could probably mow it as you normally would with a traditional or riding mower.

Tools for Cutting Tall Grass

Now that you’ve measured the lawn, you can determine which tool you’re going to need in order to tackle your overgrown lawn.

By using the right tools for the job you will save yourself a lot of time, frustration and avoid damaging your equipment.

Weed Whacker

String trimmer being used to cut tall grass.

If your lawn is overgrown with high tufts of grass, consider using an electric or gas-powered weed eater. Although these power tools aren’t specifically designed for mowing tall grass, they can handle the task if necessary. 

Since this tool is designed for cutting down weeds, you’ll want to take extra care when using it to trim your lawn.

Be sure to remember that you can only trim one third of the height of the grass before you risk putting your lawn into shock and possibly killing it.

Resist the urge to use the string trimmer to take the grass down to the ground.

Instead, just use it to take off the top third, then give your lawn a couple of days to recover before finishing up the job with a mower.

Related: Our Top Picks for the Best String Trimmers

Walk-Behind Brush Cutter

Brush cutter for tall grass

A walk-behind brush cutter is a great tool to tackle tall grass. They’re designed to how to mow tall grass, so they can take down high grass with ease.

You should handle this tool with care as it has sharp blades and takes a lot of power to run. This is still a dangerous and powerful piece of lawn equipment, but using it properly and responsibly will ensure you get the job done right without any accidents.

Choose one that has wheels to help you maneuver around the yard easily. If your brush cutter doesn’t have wheels, make sure it’s light enough for you how to mow tall grass safely and efficiently without injuring yourself or damaging property.


A scythe is an old tool that can tackle tall grass.

This tool is quite simple, and only requires the right technique.

To avoid cutting yourself while using the scythe, use caution when moving it through your yard. Always keep the blade on your left (if you’re right handed) with an overhand motion instead of an underhanded one. Y

You should also always wear protective equipment like gloves, boots, and pants that fully cover any area that how to mow tall grass might cut if necessary.

Although this may seem like a good option at first glance, it can be dangerous.

A scythe poses a risk of injury if you aren’t careful how you handle it. You also can’t adjust how close or how high up on the blade you shear.

If you are proficient with using a scythe, then this is a great option, otherwise we recommend you use something else.

Riding Mower

A riding mower is probably the best tool for the job in the event that your lawn’s height reaches far past six inches.

A walk-behind mower just won’t cut it, and you might risk damaging your lawn if you try.

A riding mower is typically able to cut grass that has grown up to 12 inches, making it an excellent solution for long lawns.

This option is the best choice because it can handle quite a bit of your lawn’s height without any problems. 

How To Mow Tall Grass: Step-By-Step

Once you’ve chosen how to mow tall grass, it’s time to get started.

  • First, you should always check your lawn for any trip hazards or other dangers that might pose a threat how to mow tall grass safely.
  • Make sure no children are allowed in the area so they don’t get hurt how to mow tall grass accidentally.
  • Be sure to start with proper maintenance of your equipment. Whether this is your push-reel lawnmower, weed whacker, brush cutter, riding mower or anything else, make sure everything is well-oiled and ready for the job.

You’ll need to check the blades on your mower at a minimum. If they’re not sharp anymore, consider replacing them for your own safety. Dull mower blades will make for a difficult job and a dangerous situation.

Once you’re ready, find a good path around the perimeter of your yard.

Pick your route, and start going. Take caution –especially if it’s covered in sticks or other debris.

The First Pass

No matter how tall your grass is, remember that you only want to trim the top one-third to begin.

Whether you are using a string trimmer, brush cutter or riding mower avoid trimming the entire blade off at once. You just want to remove the top layer of grass.

When you start cutting your lawn, make sure you travel slowly to avoid overworking your lawn mower causing irreversible damage. Tall grass takes a toll on the blades and the engine especially for extended periods.

If you are using equipment with an adjustable blade, be sure to set it at the highest setting.

After you make this first pass, the grass will need a few days to recover.

The Second Pass

Now that the grass is a more manageable height, it’s time for the second pass.

This is typically done with a traditional mower by adjusting the blade height to the highest possible setting.

If you’re using a mower at this point be sure to stop frequently to clear any clumps so you don’t damage the blades or clog your equipment.

At this point your lawn is probably almost ready for a regular mow, but remember to let the grass rest and recover for a few days.

Mowing To Regular Height

Once your grass is back at a normal height, it’s time for the last step: mowing your grass regularly.

This usually means setting your blade as low as possible and mowing weekly.

Final Thoughts on Mowing Tall Grass

Now that you know how to mow tall grass it’s important that you stick to a regular schedule so you can maintain your lawn and avoid this situation again.

The stress that trimming tall grass causes is bad for the overall health of your lawn and isn’t something you want to do repeatedly.

The best way to maintain a healthy lawn is to mow on a regular basis and practice proper lawn care. In the long run, maintaining an ideal mowing height will guarantee your grass gets the love and attention it deserves and your lawn will look great for years to come.

If the idea of spending multiple days trimming your overgrown lawn to the desired height, you can always contact a local commercial lawn care service and they will be happy to tackle the project for you.

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