Scalping Your Lawn: When and How to do it

March 15, 2023
Featured image for “Scalping Your Lawn: When and How to do it”

What is scalping?

Scalping the lawn is cutting the grass extra short, and is a specialized technique that should not be used regularly. However, if performed properly, this technique can be useful. The Cleanest & Greenest lawn on the block always starts with a good scalp!

Why should I scalp my lawn?

Scalping will remove dead grass, buildup, thatch, and debris and help the soil to warm up faster. Faster soil warm-up means the green, new growth will occur sooner rather than later in most cases. This will often make your lawn an early riser, and the envy of the neighborhood! 😁

When should I scalp my lawn?

Warm season grasses such as Bermuda or Zoysia must be scalped in early spring before they come out of winter dormancy (generally the last half of March in Oklahoma). The vast majority of your grass is likely either Bermuda or Zoysia, and here’s pictures of what they each look like:


  1. Do not scalp if your lawn was installed within the last calendar year.
  2. If your lawn is Zoysia and has not entered into a fully dormant state over the winter, the extra stress on the lawn may not promote a healthy green-up as it would if it were fully dormant. This is rare, but in this case, a good old-fashioned raking is the best option to remove the mess from last year!
  3. Do not scalp any fescue grass ever. Fescue is cool season grass that grows in shady areas. You may have a small amount of fescue grass under trees that you’ll want to avoid scalping – see pic below.

How do I scalp my lawn?

Scalping your bermuda or zoysia grass is very easy.

  1. Cut your grass to ½” to 1” max to promote a healthy spring green-up.
  2. Bag your clippings – this is the only time each year to do this. 

All of that crunchy, brown lawn debris does not belong in your yard! This is one of those rare occasions when you should bag your clippings. The thatch is what nature couldn’t process and reuse from last season and can stifle new growth by starving it of sun and oxygen. 

Once the new grass grows in, cut it at the proper height for your grass type. This typically means you should remove roughly ⅓ of the length on each mowing, cutting it down to 2” to 3”. In those shady areas where you have Fescue or other cool season grasses, you’ll need to retain a longer blade in the range of 3-4” or more year-round. 

If you have questions, please contact our office or your technician on our next visit!

REMEMBER: Scalping fescue or other cool season turf is NEVER advised!


About the Author