Should I cut the grass short in summer so I can mow less often?

No. Cutting below 2 inches (1 ½" Bermuda) can stunt growth by severely stressing the grass. Being a plant, grass makes its food from sunlight through a process called photosynthesis. Removing too much of the blade will significantly disrupt this process as it hinders the grasses ability to feed and protect itself. Also this will cause the roots to contract and become short. Short roots will cause the grass to suffer during heat and drought because the soil dries out quickly at the surface and roots cannot reach the moisture and minerals that are available at greater depth.

Cutting too short will expose the soil to sunlight, which will spur weed growth. Cutting low in summer creates the perfect environment for weeds to out compete the grass. Weeds grow more quickly than grass and can survive a harsh environment. Leave the grass long in summer to better withstand heat and prevent weed growth. As a general rule, it is best to not remove more than 1/3 of the blade length during a cut.

However, cutting slightly lower can be effective to control weeds before and after the growing season (March –April, and November - Dec). During this time the grass is not actively growing and is storing energy in the root zone and rhizomes. Cutting lower and frequently at this time is a great way to control weeds, because cutting the tops off of weeds will prevent those plants from seeding and re-establishing. Leave the weed trimmings if they have not seeded, they will break down and become organic matter, which means more nutrients!

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