How to Measure Lawn Mower Cutting Height

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The cutting height of your lawnmower can have a direct effect on the health of your lawn. Level up on lawn care by learning how to measure lawn mower cutting height and its importance. Then dive into determining the cutting height of your lawnmower, whether the cutting height is automatically adjustable or not.

Why Should I Measure Lawn Mower Cutting Height?

You should measure lawn mower cutting height to ensure the health of your lawn. Here are several key reasons why you should be measuring:

Learning how to measure lawn mower cutting height
  • Not all grass is the same. There are over 100 different species of grass used for yards and many more varieties of grass within each species.
  • Having a full, green lawn includes making adjustments to the specific requirements of your grass so that it can heal quickly from the cut. Depending on your region, climate, and landscaping choices, the grass in your yard is one of the hundreds of varieties with its own likes and dislikes.
  • Grasses vary by species. Some grasses heal best when trimmed close to the root, while others should be cut further up the stalk for optimal results.
  • Once you know the best cutting height for your lawn, you can compare that to the cutting height of your lawnmower, and make adjustments if necessary.

To make this comparison and determine whether adjustments are needed, you must be able to determine the current lawn mower cutting height.

Determining Lawn Mower Cutting Height

There are two ways to determine the cutting height of your lawnmower. You can consult the owner’s manual, or you can measure the height of the blade.

Consult the Owner’s Manual

Most of the top cordless and corded mowers have adjustable blade heights. Adjustable-height lawnmowers have levers or dials that change the height of the blade. The numbers on these levers are usually numbered.

Preparing how to measure lawn mower cutting height

You might think that a ‘1’ would indicate a cutting height of one inch, but that isn’t how it works. Instead, the cutting height of each setting is listed in the owner’s manual. If you’ve lost your owner’s manual, many manufacturers make their product documentation, including manuals, available online.

If the user’s manual isn’t available or you don’t have an adjustable height mower, you can still find out the cutting height. You need to measure the height of the lawnmower blade. 

Bonus: learn how to sharpen your lawn mower blade without removing it from the mower.

How to Measure the Cutting Height of Lawn Mower Blade

Use this process to measure how far the lawnmower blade is from the ground, also known as its cutting height.

  1. Move the lawnmower onto a hard surface. Concrete is perfect, but asphalt or brick pavers will also work. Sidewalks work well for this purpose. You want the lawnmower to be evenly balanced on flat, hard ground.
  2. Take precautions. Remove the spark plug before bringing your hands anywhere near the blade. Most lawnmowers have consumer product safety features to prevent accidental turn-on, but the risk isn’t worth it. Lawnmowers cause over 4,000 injuries every year. Make sure the area is clear of pets and children before moving on to the next step.
  3. Open the deck. The inner workings of the lawnmower are protected by a shield called the deck. Lift this deck to expose the lawn mower blade. Use a block of wood to keep the blade in place. Be careful as mower blades are sharp.
  4. Measure the cutting height. Use a ruler or measuring tape to calculate the distance between the ground and the blade. Insert the measuring device from above and lower it so that one end is touching the ground. Read the cutting height where the measuring tape meets the blade.

If you can’t maneuver a measuring implement into the space, you can use a piece of paper or a block of wood. Insert the paper or wood so that one end is touching the ground. Mark the spot where the wood or paper meets the blade. Then, remove the wood or paper and measure it with a ruler or measuring tape.

  1. Close the deck. Replace the deck so that the lawnmower blades are no longer exposed.
  2. Restore the lawnmower to operating condition. Replace the spark plug or reconnect the spark plug wire so the lawnmower is ready for your next mow.

You might be surprised by the gap you find between the ground and your blade. Keep in mind that different types of grass require different blades and heights. For example, the best mower blade for tall grass will be set at a different height than one designed for short, manicured lawns.

Conclusion

Cutting grass at the appropriate height is a critical piece of lawn care. You can measure the distance between your blade and the ground using a ruler and a hard, flat surface. If you have an adjustable-height mower, consult the product documentation to determine the measurements of the different blade height settings.

Ellenkate grew up on job sites run by her family’s construction company. She earned her theater degree from The Hartt School, a prestigious performing arts conservatory in Connecticut. Her design and DIY work from her Chicago loft was featured in the Chicago Reader and on Apartment Therapy.