How to Cut Tall Grass & Conquer An Overgrown Lawn (5 Steps)

A green lawn enhances your home’s appearance. Yet, grass needs consistent care to stay healthy. If your grass grows too tall, it’s essential to know how to cut tall grass properly to ensure you keep your lawn healthy.

If you’re wondering how to cut long grass, first you need to prepare your equipment, then gradually cut down the overgrown lawn in increments, and finally make sure you have the right tools for the job.

This article guides you through taming overgrown grass and creating a beautiful yard, step by step.

Key Takeaways:

  • Before you handle an overgrown lawn, sharpen your mower or trimmer blades, wear protective gear, remove debris from the lawn, and ensure pets and kids stay away.
  • If your grass is very tall, cut a little at a time, avoiding more than one-third in each session. This protects roots, aids recovery, and hinders weed growth.
  • Based on your preference and lawn size, pick from trimmers, mowers, scythes, shears, or sickles. The right choice improves efficiency.

By the way, our site is supported by visitors like you. Some links on this page may be affiliate links which means if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! You can find out more here.

Tips On Cutting Long Grass

How To Mow A Tall Overgrown Lawn

Mowing very tall grass isn’t easy. It might clog the machine or harm the lawn. Before you begin cutting, consider these tips for handling your overgrown lawn:

  • Prepare your protective clothing: You’ll need gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety glasses, rubber boots, and ear protection when using the mower and trimmer.
  • Check for debris on the lawn: Clear the cutting area of branches, rocks, and other objects to avoid damaging your equipment.
  • Keep pets and children away: Make sure your children and pets are moved to a safe area while you’re cutting the grass. No one should be nearby to avoid injury. You should also watch out for any creatures on your lawn, such as snakes, armadillos, or moles.
  • Pause often: When tackling an overgrown lawn, remember to take a breather frequently as your mower or trimmer can easily overheat. Gas-powered mowers tend to stall out when they’ve been running too long.

Proper lawn care includes regularly cutting your grass down to size.

How To Cut Tall Grass: A Step-by-Step Guide

cutting tall grass

One of the most common mistakes when dealing with an overgrown lawn is trying to cut all the grass in a single pass.

To maintain healthy grass, avoid cutting more than 1/3 of its height during one session. Excessive cutting can harm the roots and promote weed growth.

Remember, just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, this task can’t be rushed. Focus on cutting the top layer of your overgrown lawn and leave the rest for later.

Equipment Preparation Checklist:

Sharpened BladesEnsure your mower or trimmer blades are sharp.
GlovesWear gloves to protect your hands.
Long-Sleeved ShirtA long-sleeved shirt provides arm protection.
Long PantsLong pants help protect your legs.
Safety GlassesSafety glasses shield your eyes from debris.
Rubber BootsRubber boots keep your feet dry and safe.
Ear ProtectionProtect your hearing with ear protection.
String or Blade TrimmerUse it for cutting the top layer of tall grass.
Lawnmower (riding or push mower)Ideal for mowing the grass once it’s manageable.
RakeUsed to gather grass clippings and debris.
Brush Cutter (Optional)Helpful for cutting down brush and debris.
SickleA hand tool for cutting small patches of grass.
Grass ScytheIdeal for cutting grass up to 2 feet tall.
ShearsHandheld tool for cutting small sections of the lawn.
Brush Mower or CutterUseful for cutting down brush and debris.

5 Steps to Cutting Tall Grass

  1. Start by cutting long grass with a trimmer or weed eater. You can use a strong .080 or .0.95 trimmer line or blade trimmer before mowing your grass. Cut down a fraction of the grass (up to one-third) at a time.
  2. After removing the top layer of grass, wait a couple of days, and then use the trimmer for a second pass. If your grass is bent (common with neglected lawns), a trimmer or scythe can still effectively cut it.
  3. To allow the lawn to recover, water it before leaving it for a week. This is a good opportunity for you to take a rest and put your feet up.
  4. After a week, it’s time for a second trim. Again, use your trimmer or scythe to cut the grass down to less than 6 inches.
  5. Don’t forget to gather the grass clippings with a rake. You can always use them as mulch later. 

Additionally, if your yard has brush and debris, you can use a brush mower or cutter to help cut them down.

3 Garden Tools To Cut Long Grass By Hand

Aside from a string trimmer, you can use basic grass-cutting tools to remove the top layer of your overgrown grass by hand.

The most common hand tools are scythes, garden sickles, and shears.

But how do you cut extremely long grass with hand tools?

Cutting Long Grass With A Scythe

Stand in a comfortable position and hold the scythe by its horizontal handle. Using the muscles in your hips and thighs, start by swinging the blade with a back-and-forth motion and work your way through the grass.

For the best results, hold the cutting edge of the scythe parallel to the ground. This tool is ideal for cutting grass up to 2 feet tall.

But unless you are experienced in handling this tool, it may be best to try shears or a sickle.

Cutting Tall Grass With Shears

This small hand tool is ideal for cutting small sections of your lawn. Hold the handle the same way as a scythe, so that the blades are parallel to the ground.

Squeeze the shear blades to close them, then cut as you move slowly across the yard. Click to buy shears at Amazon.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0156092Z2&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=theyardandgar 20&language=en US

Cutting Overgrown Grass With A Sickle

Hold the sickle with your right hand as though you want to play golf.

Use gentle back-handed strokes to move the blade away from your body.  Buy at Amazon.

garden sickle

Next comes the fun part… mowing tall grass. Follow these last steps, and your overgrown lawn will soon be back to its ideal state.

Cutting Tall Grass With A Lawn Mower

how to cut tall grass

The mowing process will help get your grass down to the desired height. A lawn that has been trimmed before will make mowing easier, but it will still require some effort on your part.

Depending on the type of mower you have, you’ll need to adjust the height setting to between 4 and 6 inches. The goal is to make sure the final result is completely even.

A word of caution: don’t mow your lawn while the grass is wet. This will make it extra difficult to cut down, plus your mower won’t even work properly.

Don’t mow your lawn when the grass is wet; wait a few days until it’s completely dry before starting.

As mentioned earlier, this process takes time, so please be patient.

A step-by-step process for mowing tall grass:

Cutting overgrown areas of your lawn can be slow-going because the mower might struggle with the long grass. In case the machine stops, clean the blade area regularly to remove any blockage.

  1. After adjusting the mower to the highest setting, make the first pass to reduce the grass height.
  2. Time for the second pass. After you’ve reduced the grass height to a more manageable size during the first pass, change the mower setting by reducing the height of the blade before making a second pass.
  3. Remember to take your time, just like you did before, and clear out the blade during the cutting process. Otherwise, your mower will not work properly. At this point, leave the lawn for a few days to help it recover.
  4. After a few days have passed, the new haircut you’ve given your lawn will look more respectable.
  5. Now, for the third pass to achieve the final lawn height, set your mower to the usual 2 to 3 inches, which is ideal for your lawn.
  6. Now go over your lawn one more time so you can achieve a nice, even finish.
  7. Before you congratulate yourself and put away your tools, there’s the task of clearing grass clippings—an essential part of the process.
  8. For larger lawns, a leaf blower will efficiently clear up the clippings from the sidewalks. A broom will suffice for smaller lawns.

Depending on the size of your lawn, the cleaning part could be a day’s job so you might want to leave it until the following day.

Must-Have Tools For Cutting Tall Grass

When cutting grass manually, begin with a sickle or grass scythe, gradually reducing the grass to a mowable length of 3–4 inches.


For large lawns, opt for a gas-powered mower. An electric lawnmower is best used for small yards within the restriction of cable length.

A push mower is great for thick grass, though it demands some effort. Alternatively, consider a battery-powered, self-propelled mower with seven height settings and a 20-inch cutting diameter.

If you’re looking for the best gas or battery-powered lawn mowers, I did a detailed review of each one. Check them out.

Weed Eater Or Line Trimmer

You have the option between gas, electric, or cordless weed eaters. This tool makes the job of cutting long grass easier than a mower and is perfect for clearing areas of long, overgrown weeds or brush.

Once you become proficient with a trimmer, you can effectively maintain your lawn and prevent it from becoming a micro-jungle.

A battery-powered grass trimmer provides you with complete flexibility and movement around your lawn and yard.

Corded models of weed eaters typically limit you to the cord’s length and pose a risk of it catching on objects or damaging flower beds.

weed eater

To find the best trimmer for your garden, read our article: 8 Best Cordless Battery Operated Weed Eaters. It includes a detailed buying guide and firsthand reviews of premium and budget weed eaters currently available on the market.


This is a single, short-handled tool made to be used with one hand. The inner curve of the sickle’s blade is the sharp part.

A sickle is easy to store and much lighter than a trimmer, but it’s typically used for cutting small patches of grass.

You can easily remove overgrown grass with each swing, even if it’s up to a meter high!

Grass Scythe

The final tool we will look at is one of the most common hand tools for cutting long grass. Unlike a sickle, which has a single hand, a scythe is a two-handed tool.

It consists of a metal or wooden shaft, which is around 6 feet in length with an S-curve or straight shape.

The scythe’s handle is adjustable, and the blade can range from 2 to 4 feet in length.

Stop Overgrown Grass Before It Happens

By now, you’ve become familiar with how to cut extremely long grass using some of the tools I’ve mentioned above. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place? 

To prevent an overgrown lawn, simply mow regularly at set intervals.


If you’re going on vacation, mow the lawn the day before you leave. You don’t want to return and face the arduous task of mowing tall grass in your backyard.

Final Thoughts On Cutting Long Grass

When you’re dealing with an overgrown lawn, learning how to cut long grass with the right tools is essential to prevent damaging your lawn and affecting its recovery.

If you’re wondering how to cut long grass, start by preparing your equipment, then gradually trim the overgrown lawn and ensure you have the right tools.

With a regular schedule, you can keep your lawn looking pristine without needing to hire a professional.

FAQs about how to cut extremely long grass

What is the easiest way to cut long grass?

The easiest way to cut long grass is by using a string trimmer or weed eater to gradually trim the top layer of the grass. This prevents overloading the mower and allows for more manageable cutting.

How do I mow an overgrown backyard?

To mow an overgrown backyard, follow these steps:

1. Use a trimmer or weed eater to cut the top layer of the grass in sections.
2. Wait for a few days to allow the grass to recover.
3. Make a second pass with the trimmer or a lawnmower set at a lower height.
4. Repeat the process until the grass is at the desired height.
5. Use a rake to gather the grass clippings.

Can grass be too tall to mow?

Yes, grass can be too tall to mow. If the grass is excessively tall, it can overwhelm the lawnmower, clog the blades, and result in an uneven cut.

In such cases, it is recommended to gradually trim the grass with a string trimmer or weed eater before attempting to mow it with a lawnmower.

This approach ensures better results and prevents damage to the mower.

Can A Zero-Turn Mower Cut Tall Grass?

As long as you don’t let the grass get more than 6 inches tall you can use a zero-turn mower.

When dealing with taller grass and weeds, your zero-turn may get damaged or clogged. Use a gas-powered string trimmer instead for better results. 

What is the best tool to remove long grass?

The best tool to remove long grass clippings is a rake. Raking the grass clippings after mowing helps prevent thatch buildup and allows for better lawn health.

How do you mow tall grass without leaving clumps?

To mow tall grass without leaving clumps, follow these steps:

  1. Start with a high mower deck setting.
  2. Make the first pass to reduce the grass height.
  3. Bag or mulch the clippings during this pass.
  4. Lower the mower deck for subsequent passes, gradually reducing grass height with each pass.
  5. Ensure the grass is dry before mowing to prevent clumping.

Why should you not cut grass when it’s wet?

Cutting grass when it’s wet is not recommended because it can lead to several issues. Wet grass tends to clump, clog the mower, and result in an uneven cut. Additionally, cutting wet grass can stress the grass blades and promote the spread of diseases in the lawn. It’s best to mow when the grass is dry for optimal results.