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Do I Need to Cross-Cut My Lawn?

Cross-cutting, or mowing patterns, is something that lawn care professionals get a lot of questions about. A lawn is cross-cut when it’s mown twice in quick succession with the mower set at a high height for the first, then a medium height for the second.

Some take this a step further, mowing in specific directions with each mow to push the grass so it lays in a different direction for each row. This changes the way light reflects off the grass, creating an alternating, striped effect on the lawn.

Cross-cutting isn’t an essential part of your lawn care regiment, but it does have definite benefits.

How to Cross-Cut Your Lawn
To cross-cut your lawn, simply mow once with your mower at a high deck height – probably the tallest or second-tallest setting, then set the mower to a lower height and mow again. During each mow, alternate directions for each row of grass.

The second mow gives you greater control over how the grass lays, allowing you to push the grass into a simple checkerboard or an intricate, striped pattern of your choosing.

If you are going for the striped look, leaving the grass a bit longer can make the effect stand out more clearly. Striping works best with cold season grasses like those in the central and northern U.S. as grasses in warmer climates are more rigid and won’t bend as much. If you’re a true lawn artisan, you can also pick up a lawn striping kit to further emphasize striping.

Benefits of Cross-Cutting

1. Spreads Grass Clippings
Passing over the lawn a second time lifts the lawn clippings from the first mow and spreads them across the grass, which has a natural fertilizing effect, feeding nitrogen from the clippings back into the soil.

2. Aesthetic
If you want curb appeal for your home, cross-cut lawns do the trick because they have a manicured aesthetic that looks intentional and well-maintained. The grass will only take a day or two to stand back up, but it’s a good look while the pattern lasts. You can even create your own patterns that really show off your home.

3. Separate Into Two Mows When Grass is Long
When caring for any lawn, it’s important to respect the 1/3 rule: Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade’s height in a single mow. Cutting more can be too much for the grass to easily recover from, sometimes even suspending its growth altogether.

When you mow twice, even in quick succession, you make it easier for the grass to sustain itself after a taller mow. So, while most of the benefits of double-cutting are aesthetic, there are some cases where it’s the right thing to do for your lawn’s health.

4. Can Trim Lawn Shorter
Since you can cut further down each blade of grass while double-cutting, you’ll be able to mow the lawn shorter without compromising the vitality of the grass. This can mean more time until your next mow or if you like a shorter lawn for aesthetic purposes, cross-cutting is a great way to achieve this without scalping your yard or risking any dead patches of grass.

With this in mind, happy mowing.

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