We’d all like to be able to set a date for that final mow of the fall, but turfgrass growth has a little something to say about that!
The real answer can be a little more complex than a fixed calendar date. As long as your grass is growing, it still needs mowing. Watching weather trends and understanding winter dormancy for both cool season and warm season turfgrass is a much better approach.
Cool season grasses include annual ryegrass, creeping bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. These grasses typically are in active growth in spring and fall and don’t reach dormancy until soil temperatures reach about 45 degrees. This usually occurs when air temperatures consistently stay below 50 degrees.
Warm season grasses include bahiagrass, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass. Active growth for these grasses is typically in the warmer summer months. Warm season grasses go dormant when soil temperatures reach around 55 degrees. Air temperatures need to stay below 60 degrees for this to occur.
Based on year-to-year weather patterns, you may see great variance in the last mow of the season from one year to the next. When the time finally does come, be sure you’re still following the 1/3 rule (do not remove more than 1/3 of grass height in one mow) to gradually leave your grass around two inches tall.
When all the stars finally align after a busy growing season and you’ve finished that final mow, sit down and enjoy a winter break well-earned!