What Temperature Is Too Cold for Mowing the Lawn?

This is a question that many homeowners ask themselves when they are deciding whether or not to mow their lawn.

If you are too, then chances are there are some other questions in your mind as well, like the following:

  • Should I even be mowing grass in winter?
  • Should I wait for spring to mow the grass?
  • If I really wanted to, what would be the best way of mowing grass in winter?

This blog post will answer all those questions in-depth. By the end, your mind will be made up and you will no longer need to spend any more time thinking about when or how you should mow your lawn.

When Is It Too Cold to Mow the Grass?

When you’re dealing with temperatures at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius), there’s a pretty good chance that your grass can sustain some damage if you try and cut through it. When that happens, expect brown patches of dead turf in areas where the ground was exposed and left vulnerable by your mower blades.

So unless you absolutely need to, wait until it’s over 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside to mow your lawn. Otherwise, you risk causing a lot of damage to your lawn which will cost a lot of money and effort to fix.

Watch Out for Early Winter Thaws

When it starts to warm up and there’s no snow on the ground, you might be tempted to run your mower again after a long period of inactivity. After all, warmer weather is ideal for working outdoors, right? That’s right. However, you should keep an eye out for early winter warmth as it often leads to false thaws that result from frozen precipitation melting off rooftops before hitting the ground (snow) or directly onto roads (freezing rain).

Cutting grass during those false thaws will cause more damage than good. Why? Well, if you didn’t know already, cutting grass in wet conditions involves a significantly higher risk of bruising, tearing of the blades, and damage to the grass.

Avoid Cutting Grass Before an Upcoming Freeze

It’s never a good idea to cut grass quickly before an upcoming freeze. When you do that, your mower blades will be tearing up your lawn rather than cutting through it with the same ease as they would during normal conditions.

Not only does this cause damage to the turf itself, but also tears apart previously-bound dirt clumps which leads to more visible browning of patches in areas where blade tips were exposed for longer periods.

So if possible, watch the weather forecast and if they predict an upcoming freeze, then try to wait until after the next warm period to mow your lawn. The snow on top of frozen ground will have completely melted off by that time. So there won’t be any ice underneath waiting around long enough for you or your mower blades to tear it unexpectedly.

Should You Even Be Mowing Grass In Winter?

As we just discussed, you can mow grass in winter as long as the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But just because you can does not mean you should. Doing so comes with some unnecessary risk.

You can avoid that risk by either waiting for spring or planning ahead and mowing your lawn before the winds of winter.

Why It’s Best to Mow Your Lawn Before Winter Hits

The best time to mow your lawn is before the winds of winter arrive. That’s because it’s easier to avoid the perils of mowing wet grass when it hasn’t rained or snowed in a while.

When you have that luxury, your only worry comes from dry patches being exposed by blade tips which is much more manageable than having areas torn up during a false thaw event after a recent period of precipitation.

Furthermore, when you mow your lawn near the end of fall, your lawn stays in shape throughout the winter season.

Why It’s Best to Leave Your Grass Short for Winter

Leaving your lawn long is a bad idea for winter. Since tall grass is what keeps snow from completely reaching the ground, it’s what invites voles and other vermins that tunnel under the snow. They stay under the snow throughout winter, eating grass roots and destroying your yard.

So when you’re cutting grass near the end of fall, make sure you cut it as short as possible without causing any damage.

How Can You Mow Your Lawn Safely During Winter?

If you either really want to or have no choice but to mow your lawn in winter, here’s how you should go about it.

First off, make sure you’re mowing when the grass is dry. When it’s wet and growing at a faster rate than normal (due to warmer weather), then that higher level of growth will be much more likely to tear up your lawn.

Second, ensure that blade tips never touch the ground. Otherwise, they may get caught by hard dirt clumps of ice underneath which causes damage even if blades themselves are not directly touching anything harmful.

Third, don’t cut any more than one inch of grass. Otherwise, you may end up causing more damage than good. During winter, the more length of grass you cut, the riskier it becomes. So stick to cutting only one inch of grass — the length recommended by grass experts.

Fourth and last, make sure you have the right gear and clothes on. It’s hard enough to mow in winter as it is. You don’t want to face additional troubles, such as catching a cold, exposure to frostbites, or cutting grass with inadequate equipment.

Final Thoughts

It’s standard practice to cut your grass to a manageable height before the winter season begins.

However, you may be tempted to cut your grass even during the winter season in order to ward off pests, snow mold, and to keep your lawn looking good. But we advise against it as doing so can do more damage than not mowing your lawn for a couple of months.

That being said, if you really want to or have no choice but to mow your lawn in winter, then take the safety steps discussed earlier.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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