Riding Mower Scalping Lawn: Common Causes and Solutions

Scalping is a common issue for many homeowners, but it can be avoided with proper care and maintenance. Make sure you set your riding lawn mower blades to the correct height and avoid tight turns when possible. If scalping occurs, try to repair the damage as soon as possible to ensure your lawn remains healthy and attractive. This article will discuss the most common reasons for a riding mower scalping the lawn.

Riding mowers need regular maintenance to ensure a level cut, including sharpening the blades and oil changes. If the mower hasn’t been serviced in some time, it may not be able to make an even cut.

Riding Mower Scalping Lawn

Riding Mower Scalping Lawn

When mowing your lawn, it’s best to cut the grass to the correct height depending on the variety of grass you are growing. Don’t be tempted to cut your grass too short to avoid cutting it too often. Scalped grass can be prone to pests and disease, look patchy, and be less healthy. 

Here are some common reasons that your riding mower is scalping the lawn:

The cutting blades of the riding mower are worn or dull

Blades that are too thin, cracked, bent, or otherwise compromised can cause scalping of the lawn. To prevent this issue, check your mower blades regularly for signs of wear and tear. 

If you notice any damage, replace the blade with a new one to ensure the best cutting performance.

The mower is set at too low a height

Most riding lawnmowers have adjustable blade heights that allow you to customize the cut for different types of grass and terrain. If the blade is set too low, it can cause scalping of the lawn. To prevent this, ensure your mower’s blade height is set to the recommended level for your type of grass and terrain.

The mower deck is out of alignment

If the mower deck is not aligned correctly, it can cause uneven cutting, resulting in scalping of the lawn. To prevent this, check your mower’s deck periodically to ensure it’s properly aligned. If it isn’t, make adjustments as necessary.

You can also fit gauge wheels to your deck to help move the deck over bumpy or uneven ground. These are cheap, readily available, and easy to install on the front and back of your lawnmower deck. 

The mower tires are incorrectly inflated

Too little or uneven air pressure in the tires of a riding lawn mower can cause scalping of the grass. To prevent this issue, check the tire pressure regularly with an accurate tire gauge and adjust it to the recommended level.

Uneven ground

Uneven ground can also cause scalping of the lawn as the deck of the lawnmower will hit small bumps or hills. To combat this, try trimming the grass in a different direction and moving your mower more slowly. 

You may also landscape your yard and flatten the ground to prevent scalping. This can be done by digging raised areas and filling in any holes in the lawn. You can then go over the whole area with a roller to compact the soil and get it to the same height.

It’s a good idea to use a roller in the spring when the ground is damp. At other times of the year, you can water your grass well before using a roller. Damp earth is softer, and you’ll achieve better results. Be careful not to saturate your lawn. It just needs to be damp. 

Why is it important to avoid scalping your lawn?

Riding Mower Scalping Lawn

Scalping lawn causes damage to the grass, leaving it more prone to disease and pest infestations. Scalped grass does not contain enough root structure to survive in hot or dry conditions, making it difficult for healthy new grass to grow back. 

Additionally, scalping can leave bald spots that are unsightly and hard to cover up. In some cases, scalping can even cause soil erosion, making lawn maintenance more difficult.

To avoid these issues, it is crucial to ensure your riding lawn mower is set properly, so its blades are not cutting too low. Also, avoid tight turns and uneven drainage areas when using a riding lawn mower. Taking these precautions can help ensure your lawn remains healthy and attractive.


By taking the necessary steps to properly maintain your riding lawn mower, you can ensure that it won’t cause scalping of your yard. Following these tips and inspecting your mower regularly will help keep your lawn in excellent condition.