Skip to main content

Manage your overgrown lawn in 8 easy steps

Tips for cutting your tall grass

An overgrown lawn is certainly an ugly sight. You may have purchased a new home whose previous owners let the yard go, or maybe you've just been neglecting it yourself. You don't have to be ashamed — this is a common tale, especially when life gets busy.




3 hours

What You Need

  • String trimmer

  • Garden hose or sprinklers

  • Fork or aerating tool

  • Rake

  • Grass seed

  • Lawn mower

Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with an overgrown lawn, getting your lawn looking pristine requires a bit of work, since the best way to cut long grass actually happens in eight total steps. Here's how to cut tall grass as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can tackle your overgrown lawn once and for all.

Lawn mower cutting grass

Remove debris and large weeds

When a lawn is overgrown, you never know what could be hiding among the tall grass. The goal here is to ensure you won't damage your lawnmower while mowing, and also to make sure you'll be safe walking through your own lawn.

Step 1: Take some time to roam around and gather any debris that can't be mowed over, like sticks, large weeds, or dead plants.

Step 2: This is also a good time to decide what plants you want to keep and which can be pulled up and tossed out. Remove any plants you won't be saving and get rid of them during this step.

Lawnmower on cut grass in backyard

Trim down the top layer

Unfortunately, with tall overgrown grass, you won't be able to use a standard lawnmower for your first trim. This would be a lot of strain on your mower, and it could get jammed with clippings, overheat, or possibly become damaged. Instead, it's recommended that you use a string trimmer for that first hefty trim. Using your trimmer, cut down the top layer of grass, working in sections to keep yourself from getting overly exhausted.

Watering grass

Give the grass a good water

Your grass will need a bit of TLC at this point since such vigorous maintenance can be a shock to it. Water the whole lawn generously and wait a few days or up to a week before moving on to trimming again. That way, your grass can recover from the trauma of such an intense cut.

Address drainage issues

While you're watering, note any areas on your lawn that are puddling with water and appear to be having trouble draining. You may also notice a drainage issue a couple of days later since the grass and dirt underneath will still be wet. Poke around these areas with a fork to aerate your lawn a bit and help with drainage.

Go in for a second trim

If your grass is at a low enough height to mow on the highest setting without cutting more than one-third of the blades, go ahead and begin mowing. Since the grass will still be fairly tall, we recommend mowing in smaller patches to give your mower a rest in between. Trying to tackle the whole lawn at this point may cause overheating or other damage to your mower.

the best bow rake for tough jobs

Rake up the trimmings

You may be tempted to leave the trimmings as mulch, especially since it will be a lot of work to remove such a large amount. The huge volume of trimmings, however, will actually not be great for your recovering lawn. Leaving them on your lawn will block out needed sunlight and prevent the growth of new grass.

Reseed your lawn

An overgrown lawn tends to have some spots of unhealthy grass. When certain areas grow faster and longer, they take up more nutrients from the soil and even block out needed sunlight for the areas that are a bit slower at growing.

Also, as we noted prior, such vigorous trimming can be a shock to your lawn, so you may notice some areas that begin struggling to stay healthy after your initial trim. Get your lawn healthy again by reseeding in areas that are bare or discolored. Be sure to water generously after reseeding to get those seeds germinating.

good lawn maintenance
Petar Tonchev

Keep up with regular maintenance

After you've trimmed back the tall grass, watered, removed all of the waste, and reseeded, it's now time to set up a regular lawn maintenance schedule — and stick with it! This means, most importantly, regular mowing.

Step 1: Use the standard rule for your mowing routine, which is to cut tall and mow often. You want to avoid cutting more than one-third of your blades at a time so that the grass can establish strong roots.

Step 2: Be sure to mow in different directions to encourage upward growth.

Step 3: Additional required maintenance for your lawn will include weeding, watering, and fertilizing when necessary.

Managing an overgrown lawn is certainly not the most enjoyable experience. Between the multiple trims, the raking, the watering, and the daily upkeep that comes after, you may have some sore muscles for a few days. All that effort will be worth it, though, since you'll finally be able to enjoy a beautifully pristine lawn that will boost your home's curb appeal. Don't get discouraged. Get that lawn in order so you can enjoy the benefits of your gorgeous yard.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
How often should you water new sod? What you need to know
Lawn maintenance 101: How to water new sod
Lawn sprinkler

If you're looking to replace your lawn, sod is a quick and simple option. You'll just want to pay close attention to how often you water your new sod once you lay it down.

It's important to note that sod isn't cheap. Professional installation of just 500 square feet of sod, an area slightly smaller than two parking spaces, typically costs upward of $750 for materials and labor. Even then, most landscapers can't guarantee a healthy and flourishing lawn. If it dies, you have to pay even more to replace it.

Read more
How to install a security light with a motion sensor in 3 easy steps
how to install security lights shutterstock 1340722961

Your home is your haven, and it should be where you and your family feel the safest. Keeping your home protected with a home security system is the most comprehensive way to guard it, but if you're not ready for that financial commitment, you can always install a motion-detecting security light outside. To answer any questions you may have, we'll discuss the benefits of motion sensor lights and how to install them quickly so you and your family can sleep a little easier.

Benefits of a security light with a motion sensor
While they don't come with all the bells and whistles of a complete home security system, outdoor motion sensor security lights give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to keeping your home secure.
Improve security
Of course, the primary benefit of a security light with a motion sensor is that it deters would-be intruders. Not only would an intruder be caught off-guard by the sudden burst of light, but they are likely to retreat and move along since they don't want to be seen.
Promote safety
Falls happen in the driveways and walkways of homes not only when the ground is wet or iced over, but also when it's too dark to see any trip hazards. With a motion sensor light, every time you enter or exit your home, you can be confident that you'll have a light to illuminate the way, preventing slips, trips, and falls.
Outdoor motion sensor lights also mean you don't have to remember to turn your outdoor lights on and off every time the sun goes down or a guest arrives. The light simply turns on when your movement is detected, with no effort on your part.
Since full home security systems can be pricey, motion sensor security lights present a more economical way to secure the home without breaking the bank.
Where to install motion sensor lights
For the motion sensor on your outdoor security light to be most effective, install it in a location with no obstructions, like trees or parked cars, that would otherwise prevent it from sensing movements in the area.  Ensure the sensor is approximately 10 feet above ground level and in such a position where any movement that occurs in the area will travel across the motion detector instead of moving directly toward or away from it. Cross movement is more easily detected by the sensor, so make sure it's perpendicular to any walking path.

Read more
10 bad ideas for your front yard that will kill your curb appeal
front porch with wall lantern lighting

You may be thinking about all the projects you want to tackle outdoors thanks to the warmer weather. While you may have grand plans to improve your curb appeal, taking the time and patience to properly land on a front yard design is important. If you want to ensure you're staying on trend and not dating your home, there are some common mistakes to avoid. These will help with the resale value of your home and leave you the envy of all your neighbors.

Landscaping mistakes
These are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid when thinking about landscaping your front yard.
Not having a game plan
One of the biggest mistakes is not having a plan when it comes to the design and layout of your landscaping. This can leave your yard feeling disjointed and your plants at risk of looking overgrown and out of place. Meet with a local garden expert or map out your front yard, including where all plants, trees, rocks, water features, and flowers will live. This will help ensure things don't look too busy or sparse, and it will make your yard feel well thought out.
Using the wrong plants
Understand which plants work for your exact yard. If they need full sun or partial shade, or require a lot of maintenance, it may be a disaster waiting to happen. Not only do you need to consider placement in terms of sunlight, but different flowers and plants have varying schedules of watering, so you want to know exactly what's expected before you plant them.
Too many decorations
Everyone loves a yard that changes with the season in terms of decor, but you can overdo it. You want to avoid garden decor that makes your front yard look tacky or cheap (we're talking to you, plastic deer), so keep decorations to a minimum.

Read more