Raise the Blade

Your lawn mower blade is adjustable

Raising your blade so that the grass is three inches or longer after mowing can improve the health of your soil and your lawn. It also helps improve the health of our waterways, including Lake Champlain.

What is healthy soil and why is it important?

Healthy soils are rich in organic matter (decomposing plant or animal matter), hold nutrients that are readily available for plants, and host many micro-organisms. They have more space between soil particles and retain moisture.

Healthy soils help your lawn capture rainwater that has picked up pollutants on the ground surface. As the water soaks in, nutrients and other forms of pollution are filtered by the soil. This cleanses the water that soaks in and reduces stormwater runoff from the surface, helping to make our waterways cleaner.

When soils are compacted, they are not able to absorb as much rainwater. Longer grass means longer roots, which aerate the soils and help retain more moisture. This not only improves water quality, but also results in a lush lawn that is more drought resistant. Longer grass also shades out weeds.

Lake Champlain Sea Grant Raise the Blade research

Lake Champlain Sea Grant and the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension conducted research to determine if differences in soil and grass health exist between lawn cut to 2″ and lawn cut to 3″ where clippings are allowed to decompose. Ten local businesses/organizations allowed researchers to use a portion of their lawn to manage and study over time.
Learn more about the Raise the Blade research >>

How do your lawn mowing practices compare to others

In 2017, Lake Champlain Sea Grant and other Lawn to Lake partners asked people across the Lake Champlain watershed to share information about their lawn mowing practices. The poll provided useful information that has helped focus the Raise the Blade campaign. One interesting tidbit is that a surprising number of people in urban areas use goats, sheep, alpaca, or scythes to mow their lawns!
View the survey results infographic >>


Lawn Tips

  • Cut your lawn to 3″. This will allow roots to grow deeper, aerating the soil and help the soil hold more water.
  • Leave the clippings. Grass clippings provide natural fertilizer and give you more time to enjoy other activities.
  • Remove only 1/3 of the grass blade. This reduces stress to the lawn and provides drought resistance.

Read more healthy lawn tips