Scalping a Lawn – Pros, Cons and Aftercare

During optimal growth, scalping a lawn can help grass to growth dense and lush. However, setting your mower blade to its lowest can have a significant impact on the heath of your grass. It can either be beneficial or damaging.

Scalping a lawn refers to cutting grass too low to expose the stems of the blades of the grass. Lawn scalping can be done intentionally at the beginning of the season or it can happen accidentally when mowing in bumpy or low spots of the lawn.

Lawn Scalping Pros

When done correctly on the right type of grass, scalping helps in clearing away winter debris and thatch from your lawn. It also help in getting more sunlight to the soil which kick starts more growth of grass after winter frost. Through scalping you can see if your lawn is uneven or bumpy so that you can fix the problem.

Lawn Scalping Cons

Many lawn care experts advise against scalping your lawn. Grass blades are important parts of the plant where photosynthesis takes place. Clipping off grass blades leads to inefficient production of food to the remaining part of the plant including roots. This can make your lawn weak and susceptible to weeds, pests, stress and diseases.

Lawn scalping is also a potential for increased soil erosion. Grass blades provides for a great ground cover which also prevents surface runoff. Cutting grass to the lowest height can also affect overseeding if you have plans to. Some foliage is necessary for protecting germinating seed from direct sun, wind and heavy rainfall.

What is the best mowing height for grass

Lawn scalping comes with more harm than good and thus better to stick to recommended mowing habits. These include proper lawn mowing heights and frequency. To avoid cutting grass too low or too high, consider the following factors:

1. Grass types

Every type of grass has a recommended mower blade height. Grass plants vary in their stem structure which can determine how the plant will survive when the blades are cut. Cool season turf grows the most during the cool temperatures of spring and fall. This is when you’ll want to mow low or regularly.

Warm season grasses starts growing actively in warmer weather of spring and peak in the summer. Spring is therefore the best time to mow the warm season turf to help remove dead grass blades and allow more sunlight to the soil.

2. Season

Lawn grasses grows at different rates based on the time of the year. During spring, there is more active growth and you’ll probably be mowing every four to five days.  A lower blade height will probably allow more sunlight to the stems and roots of the emerging grass.

During summer and drought, encourage grass to grow tall and only mow once every one to two weeks. Switch blade to higher settings to avoid scalping or cutting too short.

In the late fall mow your lawn frequently and probably short when the grass is about to stop growing towards early winter. This will adequately prepare your lawn for the turf season ahead. Without pre-winter mowing, lawns can grow moldy fungus.

3. Grass height

This is where the general rule of thumb for mowing applies: The one-third rule states that; mow your lawn when the grass reaches about one third higher than the recommended height. For example if 3 inches is the recommended mowing height for your lawn, wait until the grass is about 4 inches tall.

Mowing grass too high can also create problems to your lawn. Doing it above the recommended range reduces tillering and encourage matting of the grass thus inviting disease and pests.

4. Lawn care

How you water, fertilize and control pests in your lawn determines how often you need to mow. A well balanced manicured lawn does not require too much mowing. Avoid too much watering or fertilizing so that grass can have a standard growth that requires normal mowing.

What to do after scalping a lawn

After scalping, check for low-lying areas and add top soil. This will prevent accidental scalping of your lawn the next time you mow. Depending on how much rainfall in your area, you’ll also want to give grass a good watering.

To enhance faster grass recovery, apply chelated iron across the lawn as directed on the packaging. Iron is a natural composition of chlorophyll. This is the only way to avoid starving your grass of this essential element.

Depending on the type of grass, reseeding may also help your lawn to thicken faster. Apply some starter fertilizer and seed. Alternatively you may re-sod scalped patches for faster establishment of your lawn.


While lawn scalping may have some benefits, it is best done by professional lawn care experts. To do it yourself can be harmful to your grass and you better not attempt it. Stick to healthy mowing habits and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Leave a Comment