How To Mow Tall Weeds & Grass

Tall weeds and grass pose a difficult challenge for gardeners mowing their yard after a period of neglect.

Tall weeds often have thick, tough stems, and it requires extra force to cut them down.

So in this article, we take a look at how to mow tall weeds and grass and the tools that can help you do it.

Let’s dive in.

Mowing Tall Weeds & Grass

To successfully mow tall weeds and grass it’s important to use the right tool. Most lawn mowers used on residential lawns struggle when faced with big weeds. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you quickly mow tall weeds down:

High Weed Mower

High weed mowers are self-propelled walk-behind mowers that give you extra power and weight for flattening and cutting tall weeds. It’s probably overkill to use a high weed mower if you only have a few weeds to take care of. But it makes it easy to mow areas of thick weeds that would take a long time to cut by hand.

You can also use a high weed mower for cutting areas of brush. But it’s less comfortable and requires more effort than a flail mower or brush hog.

Remember to use eye protection in case sticks or stones are thrown up from the mower. And wear ear protection while you work to protect your hearing from the noise.

Flail Mower

If you want to cut large overgrown areas of thick weeds and grass, you’ll find it easier, quicker, and more comfortable to use a tractor with a flail mower attached behind.

The flail mower rides on the ground on big rollers, and features ‘flails’ — T or Y shaped pieces of bent metal — attached to a rotating drum (1). As you drive the tractor up and down through the weeds and grass, the drum spins, and the evenly spaced flails provide a thorough cut to all the vegetation it rolls over. A flail mower can even cut down weeds with woody stems, shrubs, and small saplings.

Because the flails are hinged instead of fixed, they don’t break or bend on impact with rocks or tree stumps.

A flail mower mulches material better than a brush hog and provides a more even cut with fewer long tufts left behind. In particular, a flail mower does a better job of mowing tall grass.

A flail mower is also easier to maneuver in tight spaces and around trees, and it works better on a small tractor than a brush hog. It’s also a better choice for mowing weeds in your pasture.

Brush Hog

A brush hog is another powerful tool that’s ideal for mowing thick areas of weeds, grass, and brush. Similar to a flail mower, you attach the brush hog behind your tractor.

A brush hog knocks down big weeds quicker than a flail mower and doesn’t require as many passes to cut weeds and brush with woody stems. This makes it a better choice for clearing heavy brush.

You can run a brush hog at a higher speed than a flail mower, so it mows large areas quicker. But it provides a rougher cut, with more uneven tufts left behind than a flail mower.

A brush hog has a rotary blade that’s usually quite dull. The blade whacks its way through thick weeds and grass with force (2). The rotary motion of the blade ejects more plant material, sticks, and stones than a flail mower so you have to be more careful when using it around people.

String Trimmer

You can use a string trimmer to mow tall weeds and long grass. If the weeds have thick stems, equip the trimmer with a steel line.

Using a string trimmer is easy. You carry the tool and point the bottom end with the trimmer line close to the base of the weeds you are trying to cut. The trimmer line slices through the weed stem and cuts the plant down.

The drawbacks of using a trimmer are that it takes longer to cut through large overgrown areas of weeds compared to a high weed mower, flail mower, or brush hog. And a string trimmer might not be able to cut through tall weeds with very thick or woody stems.

Related: How To Cut Weeds In Your Backyard

tall weeds and grass

How To Mow Tall Weeds & Grass

1. If you can, remove all visible debris that might hamper the blade of your cutting tool, such as rocks and pieces of wood.

2. Quickly pass over the area with your chosen tool cutting the weeds and grass closer to the ground.

3. Are you mowing a lawn and need an even cut? Go back over the area with a walk-behind mower, riding mower, or zero-turn mower to cut the weeds and grass to the same size.
Water the lawn after you finish cutting.

4. A week or so later, mow the lawn again at a high lawn mowing height to encourage thick healthy grass that makes it harder for weeds to grow.

FAQ

What happens when you mow over weeds?

Mowing over weeds damages the plant. Repeated cutting prevents the weed from flowering and spreading seeds around your yard. Removing the plant foliage also stops it from photosynthesizing, and eventually, its root system will exhaust, and the plant will die.

Can you mow thick weeds?

You can mow thick weeds, but you’ll need to use the correct tool for the job. Many lawn mowers, such as reel mowers, fail to cut through thick weeds, particularly if the weeds have tough stems. So you may need a powerful tool such as a high weed mower or flail mower to successfully mow thick weeds down.

Can you mow over tall weeds?

You can mow over tall weeds, but not all lawn mowers are suitable. Most push mowers and self-propelled mowers will struggle to cut down tall weeds. And even the majority of riding mowers are unsuitable. Instead, use a tool built for the job, such as a brush hog, flail mower, or high weed mower.

What is the fastest way to cut tall weeds?

If you only have a small number of tall weeds to cut, the fastest way is to use a string trimmer or a hedge trimmer. The fastest way to cut a large area of tall weeds is to use a brush hog or a flail mower towed behind a tractor.

Can a push mower cut tall weeds?

You can’t use a push mower to cut tall weeds on its own. First, you need to cut the tall weeds down to a manageable size using a weed wacker, brush cutter, brush hog, or flail mower. Then use the push mower to cut the weeds and grass to an even length.

Featured Image: Harry Rose


References:

  1. Flail Mower – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flail_mower
  2. Brush Hogs & Rotary Cutters: Multi-purpose Tools For The Small Farm – https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2019/10/brush-hogs-and-rotary-cutters-multi-purpose-tools-for-the-small-farm/

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