Effective cutting height

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1. The actual height at which grasses are cut. Varies from bench setting, depending on degree of thatch and flotation of cutting unit. See also Cutting height and Bench setting.

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In the above photograph the actual cutting height often differs from the bench setting due to factors including the mowing unit.
Source: Ohio State University Turfgrass Program

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There are devices like the one above that measure the actual or effective mowing height.
Source: Ohio State University Turfgrass Program