If you’ve been away on a long summer vacation and returned to a garden that looks more like a meadow than a lawn, don’t worry. It’s happened to all of us.
Sometimes it doesn’t even take a month-long vacation to face such a situation. All you need is a week-long rainfall and before you know it, your lawn is looks like the Amazon jungle!
Want to get tips on how to cut extremely long grass? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together everything you need to know and do to tame your wild lawn.
Tips for Tackling Your Overgrown Lawn
Cutting long grass isn’t as simple as pushing the mower, as you risk clogging the machine or even worse, damaging the lawn itself. Before you start the cutting process, make a note of my following tips to tackle your overgrown lawn:
- Sharpen your blades: make sure your mower and scythe blades are sharp and in good working condition. If you have a gas-powered mower, tune-up the engine to prepare it for the heavy job ahead.
- 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 strimmer.
- Inspect the lawn for debris: the area of the lawn that requires cutting must be free from tree branches, rocks, and any other debris. Otherwise, your grass cutting machinery will get damaged.
- Keep pets and children away: make sure your children and pets are moved to a safe area whilst you’re cutting the grass. In fact, no-one should be nearby to avoid injury. You should also watch out for any creatures in 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 strimmer can easily overheat. Gas-powered mowers tend to stall out when they’ve been running too long.
- Cut the lawn in spring or summer: as a rule of thumb, never cut your overgrown grass in winter. The stress of regular trimming during the cold season can play havoc on the grass’s recovery.
How you cut your overgrown lawn now will affect it for the rest of the season! This is why you should carefully follow my recommendations to achieve the best results.
How To Cut Tall Grass: A Step By Step Guide
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when tackling an overgrown lawn is to try and cut all the grass on the first pass. NEVER attempt to cut more than 1/3 of your long grass in one session. It will damage the roots and encourage the spread of weeds.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your task won’t be a day’s job to accomplish.
So before you start with the ‘Mission Possible’ remember to only cut the top layer of your overgrown lawn and leave the rest for later.
These are the tools you’ll need for cutting tall grass:
- A string or blade trimmer
- Safety equipment (see my protective clothing section)
Step 1. Start by cutting long grass with a strimmer or weed eater: you can use a strong .080 or .0.95 trimmer line or blade trimmer before finally mowing your grass. Cut down a fraction of the grass (one-third).
Step 2. Once you’ve removed the top layer of the grass, use the trimmer again a couple of days later for the second round. Even if your grass is bent (this happens if the lawn has not been maintained for a year or so) a trimmer or scythe will efficiently cut the grass.
Step 3. To allow the lawn to recover, water it before leaving it for a week. This is a good chance for you to take a rest and put your feet up.
Step 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.
Step 5. Don’t forget to gather the grass clippings with a rake. You can always use them as mulch later.
Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of a strimmer or weedeater to cut their overgrown lawn. If you’re one of them, I have other suggestions. Go to the next part to learn how to cut extremely long grass using hand tools.
How To Cut Extremely Long Grass By Hand
Aside from a strimmer, you also have the option of using 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 use them to cut your overgrown grass?
How to use 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 best results, hold the cutting edge of the scythe parallel to the ground. This tool is ideal for cutting the grass up to 2 feet tall. But unless you are experienced at handling this tool it may be best to try shears or a sickle.
How To Use A Shear
This small hand tool is ideal for cutting small sections of the lawn. Hold the handle the same way as a scythe so that the blades are parallel to the ground.
Squeeze the shear blades together to close the blades and cut as you move slowly across the yard. Click to buy shears at Amazon
How To Use A Sickle
Hold the sickle with your right hand as though you want to play golf. Use gentle back-handed strokes so the blade moves away from your body (no I’m not teaching you how to play tennis). Make sure no one is nearby as the blades are very sharp! Buy at Amazon
Next comes the fun part…mowing tall grass. Follow the final steps and soon your jungle-like lawn will be back to how it should be.
Mowing Tall Grass
The mowing process will help get your grass down to the desired height. A previously trimmed lawn will be much easier to mow, though the task will require quite a lot of effort on your part. Depending on the type of mower you have, you’ll need to adjust the height setting, which is usually 4-6 inches. The goal is to make sure the final result is completely even.
A word of caution: don’t mow your lawn whilst the grass is wet. This will make it extra difficult to cut down plus your mower won’t even work properly. If the grass is wet, wait a few days until it’s completely dry before starting to mow. (Well, we did say the whole thing will take time…so be patient).
Follow our step by step process for mowing tall grass
Step 1. After adjusting the mower to the highest setting, make a first pass to reduce the grass height.
Be warned: this will be a long and slow task as the mower might struggle to work through the long grass. In case the machine stops, clean the blade area regularly to remove any blockage.
Now grab yourself a cold drink and take a pause.
Step 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.
Step 3. Remember to take your time just like you did before and clear out the blade during the cutting process. Otherwise, your mower just will not work properly.
Leave the lawn now for a few days to help it recover.
Step 4. After a few days have passed, the new haircut you’ve given your lawn will look more respectable.
Now it’s time for the third pass in order to get the lawn to its final height. Adjust your mower to its usual height, which is between 2 and 3 inches. This is the ideal setting for your lawn. Now go over your lawn one more time so you can achieve a nice even finish.
Before you pat yourself on the back and put all your tools away… there is the dreaded clearing of grass clipping, that’s all part of the process.
Step 5. 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 well be a day’s job so you might want to leave it until the following day.
Best Tools For Cutting Tall Grass
When cutting tall grass there are four stand-out tools. If you have access to power tools, start off with a strimmer or weed eater and strim down to around 4-6 inches. If cutting grass by hand, start off with a Sickle or Grass Scythe, work your way down to a length you can eventually mow of around 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 the cable length.
A push reel mower is ideal for thick grass but it does require a certain amount of energy. There is also the battery-powered self-propelled mower that comes with 7 height settings and 20 inches of cutting diameter.
Weed Eaters or trimmers
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 weed or brush.
Once you get the hang of using a strimmer, you’ll be able to maintain your lawn preventing it from turning into a micro-jungle.
A battery-powered grass trimmer provides you will complete flexibility and movement around your lawn and yard. Corded models generally leave you restricted to the cord length and the potential of the cord catching on objects or worse still damaging flower beds.
For a detailed insight into how to choose the best trimmer for your garden check out the article below 8 Best Cordless Battery Operated Weed Eaters, featuring a detailed buying guide and giving a first-hand review of the best premium and budget weed eaters on the market right now.
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. With each slash, you can easily remove the overgrown grass, even if it’s up to a meter high!
The final tool we will look at is one of the most common hand tools for cutting long grass. Unlike a sickle that has a single hand, whereas 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. The handle of the scythe is adjustable and the size of the blade can be anything from 2 to 4 feet long.
Prevention is Easier than Cure
So 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 if you avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place?
Setting up regular mowing at intervals is all it takes to help you prevent an overgrown lawn. The next time you put your doctor’s visit or a party date on your phone’s calendar, don’t forget to include the mowing task as an alert.
Tip: 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 How To Cut Extremely Long Grass
When you’re dealing with an overgrown lawn, learning how to cut extremely long grass with the right tools is essential to avoid damaging your lawn and affecting its recovery.
Once you get the hang of using a weed eater or a scythe, you’ll easily accomplish the task without hiring professional help!