So you’re looking at some space that you have a use for but it’s completely overgrown. Fortunately, you’re not stuck with hand tools to reclaim it and you don’t have to buy a tractor, either. We’ll teach you how to cut large areas of tall grass using three different tools.
How to Cut Tall Grass With a Lawn Mower
If the area isn’t crazy overgrown, it’s very possible to use your lawn mower. A zero-turn riding mower is the easiest, but you can even cut tall grass with a push mower. Here’s how to do it:
- Sharpen your mower blade(s)
- Set up your mower for side discharge (if available)
- Set your mower deck as high as it will go
- Cut slowly, allowing the blade RPMs to stay high
- If a full deck width bogs the blade down, try cutting half widths instead
Once you get the lawn cut, you need to cut it a second time for a couple of reasons. First, you need to get it back to a maintained length—2 to 3 1/2 inches for most grass species. Secondly, you need to recut the clippings you made the first time around and distribute them as evenly as possible. Work in a perpendicular direction to the way you cut first to help.
It’s okay to make your second cut a day or two later, just don’t wait any longer than that.
The third cut is where it all comes back together. For this one, pick yet another direction to mow (if you already cut up/down and left/right, cut diagonally this time). The key here is to use the mulching feature on your mower and get those clippings from the first two cuts down in size as much as possible so they can feed the grass and help you avoid having to dethatch. Try to do this cut within a couple of days of the second cut. It’s a lot of mowing in a week, but it’s worth it.
The big question is, “how tall is too tall?” It depends on your grass species and how strong your motor is, but you can typically get 12-inch tall grass back under control with a lawn mower. Mowers with more powerful engines can even do a bit more. Battery-powered lawn mowers can also help, but you may need several more sets of batteries than usual to get it done.
How to Cut Tall Grass That’s 3 Feet Or Higher
Use a Trimmer Mower
Cutting really tall grass is a constant challenge for farms and ranches. Fortunately, those needs turned into solutions. One of the best ways to tackle it is with a trimmer mower. This isn’t just a walk-behind string trimmer. These tools use a much higher mass line with a far stronger engine.
What makes it work is that the grass doesn’t have to pass under the deck before it’s cut. The front of the trimmer mower is open, allowing you to push right into the grass or attack it from the side.
The downside is that this leaves you with very long cuttings compared to a lawn mower. On the other hand, it’s able to cut much faster since you’re not slowing down to let blade RPMs remain high.
How to Cut Tall Grass That Has Brush Mixed In
Use a Field and Brush Mower
When you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how to cut tall grass that’s thick or has brush mixed in, that’s where a field and brush mower comes into play. One part self-propelled lawn mower and two parts bush hog, these use an extremely high mass blade with an incredibly strong engine to plow through just about anything up to 2 or 3 inches thick.
While this machine doesn’t leave the clippings as long as the trimmer mower, they will be longer than a typical lawn mower leaves. In many ways, it looks like the grass has been pushed over even though it’s been cut.
When you’re trying to reclaim land that’s been a field for a long time or just trying to maintain pasture that you can’t get a tractor and bat wing onto, a field and brush mower is a great place to start.
Like the equipment we featured in our photos? It’s from DR Power Equipment. Click here to check them out along with a full range of outdoor power equipment.
Pro Tip: For large equipment such as a field and brush mower, consider renting one instead of buying if you don’t have consistent need for it.
Do you have any tips for how to cut tall grass? Leave them in the comments below!