The Key to a Weed-Free Lawn

July 7, 2013 | By | Comments (6)

No weeds in Grumpy’s lawn! Photo by Steve Bender.

You know that a weedy lawn marks you as an undesirable in the neighborhood and brings your face up first on many Google searches. So what if I told you there was a simple way prevent weeds that doesn’t involve weed-killers, fertilizers, or a friendly herd of goats? Would you try it?

Grumpy certainly hopes so, lest your face appear on even more Google searches that include the word “boob.” Because the secret is so easy even that rat, Edward Snowden, thinks it’s not worth stealing. Here it is. Mow your grass high.

Yep. That’s right. That’s all you have to do. Mow high.

You see, despite what you see your boob-like neighbors, the Pootwaters, do, grass doesn’t like to be scalped off at a half-inch. When you cut grass this short, you remove most of the grass blades that turn sun into food for the grass plant. So it get stressed, goes into survival mode, and stops growing roots. The lawn thins out.

And Then It Gets Worse….
Weeds, on the other hand, love a thinned-out, scalped lawn. If you are trimming the grass too short, the more dandelions, crabgrass, chickweed, plantain, sandbur, and spotted spurge you’re going to have. Keep scalping your lawn and pretty soon these weeds are all you’ll have. You’ll never do a Google search again.

How High Is “High?”
Grumpy suggests that no matter what kind of grass you have, you cut it no shorter than two inches. That’s how high he’s cutting his Bermuda lawn (above) and it looks great. Three inches tall is even better for bluegrass, tall fescue, St. Augustine, and buffalograss. Grass mown tall reduces weeds two ways. First, it quickly fills up empty spots where weeds would otherwise grow. Second, it shades the soil surface, preventing weed seeds that need sunlight to sprout from doing so.

Three More Benefits from Mowing High
1. Tall grass needs less water. It stays green even in droughts.
2. Tall grass needs less fertilizer, because tall grass blades make more food.
3. Tall grass is easier to mow (with a power mower) and produces less clippings.

Do As Grumpy Does
Raise the mowing height on your mower. Grow a beautiful lawn that takes little work. Then go make fun of the Pootwaters.


  1. Donna Suttles Taylor

    Thanks for all the info Steve. I had my husband to read this also since he does the majority of the mowing on our property. I am the helper & run the weed eater. He said it makes sense & will certainly give it a try. We also plant a vegetable garden every year & the fact that clover (which we have) attracts honey bees is just an added bonus to help pollinate our plants. Looking forward to a prettier yard without the weeds.

    July 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm
  2. Steve Bender

    Clover can actually be beneficial, as Kylee says, by fixing nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is the most important plant nutrient for grass. But some people don’t like clover because it attracts honeybees. I remember as a kid being stung many times on my bare feet by honeybees when I accidentally stepped on them while playing on the lawn. Just about any lawn weed killer kills clover. Maybe one reason we have so few honeybees nowadays is that we’ve wiped out a principal nectar source.

    July 8, 2013 at 10:58 am
  3. Kylee Baumle

    Clover actually provides more nitrogen for the grass! But I would like a little less of it, please.

    July 8, 2013 at 9:16 am
  4. Kathy Fay

    What’s wrong with clover? I love clover and wish I had more of it!

    July 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm
  5. Julie Alane Meigs

    I have a lot of clover too. I used Scott’s weed and feed stuff in the spring which took care of dandelion and some other weeds, but it didn’t even stunt the clover.

    July 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm
  6. Stephanie (@dirtyjobsfan)

    What about clover? I cut my yard high but I still have clover flowers. Especially this year. We have had more rain than normal for this Spring and Summer. My yard has become 50% clover.

    July 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

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