Does Cutting Grass Make It Spread?

A lush, thick lawn is the goal for many homeowners, and why wouldn’t it be?  It looks nice, it feels nice, and it will keep the weeds out on its own, making your maintenance work easier! But your lawn is patchy and you wonder how to get your grass to spread?

Cutting grass will encourage it to spread. The speed that your grass spreads usually depends on your type of grass. Some grasses spread quickly by sending out runners. Other types of grass don’t spread as fast. Either way, cutting grass encourages it to put it’s energy into roots and new shoots instead of height. This will help your grass to both spread and thicken.

What’s the best way to get your grass to spread and thicken, and how does your mowing affect it?

Does frequent mowing thicken grass?

Frequently mowing your yard, (if you’re following the correct practices), does help to thicken your grass.   As long as you don’t cut more than 1/3 off the top, and keep the total leaf height to at least 5cm, regular mowing keeps your grass healthy, and promotes lateral growth.  When you stop grass from being able to grow taller, it redirects the energy into sending off new shoots, resulting in thicker grass!

Another way you can promote thicker lawn with your mowing, is to mow in different directions.  When you mow the lawn along the same route every time, you train the grass blades to grow that way.  By changing it up, and mowing from different directions, you will encourage the leaves to stand up straight.  This means that there’s more space for new shoots to grow alongside the current ones, so your lawn grows thicker (and feels softer).

What happens to grass if you don’t cut it?

The short answer is that when you don’t cut grass, it continues to grow taller (and starts to look untidy). 

When your grass spends its energy in growing up, it stops sending out new shoots, and becomes patchier.  Longer grass requires more nutrients to maintain the continued growth, and your grass ends up competing to survive and grow (your lawn is actually made up of hundreds of individual plants, not just the one!).  As a result, some of the plants will die, so while your grass will be taller, it will also become thinner.

If you stop mowing your lawn, you’ll also be giving weeds freedom to grow.  While growing taller is detrimental to the overall health of your lawn, the taller a weed grows, the more it thrives, and the harder it is to remove.

Because of the 1/3 rule when cutting grass, when you do mow it again, you’ll need to mow it down gradually in a few passes over several days to get it back to the recommended height.  Trying to cut it all the way down in one go will shock the grass, and it will take time to recover, if it survives. You’ll also have a lot more clippings to deal with than usual, which you will need to rake up.

If you don’t cut grass, (depending on the type you have), it will eventually go to seed.

Should you let grass go to seed?

There aren’t really any benefits to allowing your grass to go to seed.  To reach the stage where your grass is ready to seed, you have to let it grow tall enough, which brings with it the problems mentioned earlier: a patchy, less healthy lawn, increased weed growth and general messiness.

There’s the also the question: why do you want it to seed?

If it’s to add more grass seed into your lawn so that it will grow thicker, then it better to sow bought seed.  Grass grown to seed in backyards is generally infertile, so the seeds won’t help to spread and thicken your lawn.  Developing the flowering seed heads also takes energy that the grass would otherwise be using to grow thick and healthy.

If your goal is to have a thick, lush lawn, then letting your grass grow to seed isn’t ideal. 

Will grass spread to bare spots?

Whether your grass will spread to bare spots on its own depends on a few factors. What type of grass do you have? Is the bare patch fertile soil, or poor quality?

There are a few different ways that grass spreads; if you have a type of buffalo grass then it sends out runners. This type of lawn will spread out into the bare spots (unless the reason there’s no grass there is lack of sun or other environmental factors).  

If you have a seeding grass variety, you will be waiting a long time for your grass to spread shoot by shoot, into new areas. In this case, the best way to deal with bare spots in your lawn is to overseed your lawn. Read on…

Can you put lawn seed on top of grass?

You can put grass seed on top of grass. It’s called “overseeding” and is a standard method used to fill out thin or patchy lawns. The newly sprouted seed fills in any gaps, (even tiny ones) and keeps your yard looking thick and lush.

To make the most of overseeding, mow your lawn first. Then dethatch or rake vigorously before sowing the seeds so that they can penerate the soil. Then keep the soil moist for the next couple of weeks and watch your grass thicken before your eyes!

How do I get my grass to grow thicker?

If you want thicker grass, you need to give it a little extra care. 

First, check your soil. You can try every strategy on growing thicker grass, but if your soil is lacking, then your grass will always struggle.  Give yourself (and your grass) a head start and make sure you’re planting in quality soil.  The next essential is to keep it well-watered; a thirsty lawn is a yellowing lawn.  If you don’t have time to water your lawn every evening, try installing an irrigation system so that you can set and forget.

Once the foundations for a healthy lawn are in place, you can build on it with other lawn care tips:

Mowing to get thicker lawn

Proper mowing practices keep your lawn healthy and will lead to a thicker lawn.  Follow the advice mentioned earlier in the article.

Remove weeds to grow thicker grass

Weeds compete with the grass for space, water and nutrients.  Pull out those competitors, and let your grass fill in the areas where they were growing.  As your grass thickens, you won’t need to worry about the weeds as much, as there will no longer be any room for them to grow.

Dethatching to promote thicker grass growth

Thatch is the dead roots, shoots, and other organic matter that builds up at the base of the grass. Removing this layer will allow air and nutrients to reach the soil, as well as better water penetration and drainage.  It will also clear the space for more grass shoots to spread, building a thicker lawn.

To remove the thatch, you can either use a dethatching tool or give your grass a vigorous rake. 

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