We all know how satisfying mowing a lawn is right? When you cut dry grass, the clippings scatter, shred down and disperse evenly leaving you with a nice clean cut. It feels amazing to walk across your lawn barefoot too!
But what do you do when the grass it wet?
Your lawn may be wet and super over grown and the forecast is nothing but rain every day for the next week. The question then becomes – should you still cut the grass?
You’ve probably already heard that mowing a wet lawn is not something you should do and that’s generally good advice. Cutting wet grass can be an absolute nightmare for numerous reasons. Most obviously, it can be dangerous, especially if the ground is slippery. It’s also a pain to deal with all those nasty clumps in your mower deck and on the top of your grass. Mowing in the rain often turns into a complete mess, and it’s obviously much better to cut when things are dry.
In in this article, I’ll explain to you more about why cutting wet grass can be a bad idea, and I’ll also share some tips on how you can sometimes get away with it if you’re adamant to get it done.
So how do you know if it’s too wet to mow?
If you’re out walking around in the morning and the ground feels like a sponge, you’re probably going to have a hard time. The amount of moisture you may have can vary a lot though. Sometimes the ground may be a little damp from the early morning dew, but you could also have massive puddles in your lawn caused by many days of heavy rain.
Pushing your mower through a river is never going to work, but what about trying to cut grass that is just a little wet?
This can still be difficult, and it can have consequences to your lawn if you’re not careful.
Problems with cutting wet grass
Let’s begin with some things that can go wrong if you try to mow when the grass is wet.
You’re going to end up with clumps all over your lawn
Not only do clumps of wet grass look terrible, they can also cause areas of your grass to die by smothering certain spots.
Inviting fungus and disease into your lawn
Another consequence of those wet clippings in a swampy environment is that you’re more likely to get lawn disease and fungus problems.
It’s much harder to cut get a clean cut
Mowing wet grass can really churn up the lawn. You can end up pulling out the roots if you’re not careful. This can cause some long-lasting damage.
You can leave track marks all throughout your lawn
The ground is soft when wet, and mowers are usually pretty heavy. It’s really easy for the wheels to dig into the grass leaving horrible ruts in your lawn. These are certainly not a good look. I would always avoid mowing grass on hills when its wet. Its highly dangerous, and your mower is likely to slide around and just completely tear up the grass.
If you’re going to do it anyway…
But what should you do if you really need to mow? We’re all busy right? It’s not like we have unlimited time to mow the lawn.
Maybe you’re running a lawn care business and you have a lot of yards to mow while there is mostly rain forecasted for the week ahead. Maybe your grass length is starting to get out of control and you really need to do something about it.
The good news is, you can absolutely get away with cutting wet grass under the right circumstances, especially if you have a light push mower or a reel mower. If you do decide to go for it, be sensible and don’t try to cut on really thin turf that’s not well established.
Here are some tips to cut wet grass IF you absolutely must. Know that it’s usually not going to be easy.
Of course, you should take each situation as you see it and be extra careful.
How to cut wet grass
Pick up those clippings
Try and pull up as many of the grass clippings as possible. The wet grass will be nasty to deal with. If it has already stopped raining, it might be wise to finish all of your edging and trimming first before you go back to pick them up so they have a chance to dry out a little. Any left on the lawn will just end up clumping. I find it helpful to disperse some of these with a blower. You could also just go with a standard yard rake.
I’d recommend raising the mower height to the highest position possible
This will save you from having to deal with so many clippings after cutting the grass.
Sharpen your blade
You don’t want your blade to rip the grass. A sharp blade will help to get a nice clean cut.
I recommend using this Multi-Sharpener & Garden Tool (link to Amazon).
Don’t cut more the half of the length of the grass blades in one cut
You’ve probably heard of the 1/3rd rule, right? The typical advice you’ll get is not to cut off more than 1/3d of the blade height in one mow. If it’s wet, you’ll want to be even more conservative with this.
Quickly remove wet grass from sidewalks
If you’re making a mess on your paved areas, you’ll want to clean them up as fast as possible. Once the grass dries out, it’s going to stick. Getting grass stains out of concrete is no easy task, trust me. It can take multiple attempts with a pressure washer to get rid of them.
Don’t make too many sharp turns
Ease into the turns and try to do the least amount of damage as possible. It’s better to take these slow and come to a full stop before turning to avoid tearing up the wet grass.
Remove clumps from underneath the mower after you’ve finished
You’re going to get a lot of clogged up grass in your deck and between the blades which you’ll need to remove.
I’d recommend using this MoJack Deck Scraper (link to Amazon). It’s a pretty handy tool you can use to scrape out the deck.
Avoid lawn striping
It’s not going to work! Juts focus on a nice clean cut without pushing the grass down any more than you need to.
What type of mower should you use on wet grass?
Now is not the time to bring out your riding mower; These require firm and dry soil. You could also cause quite a bit of damage to your lawn and leave rut marks if you’re pushing something heavy on wet grass.
I’d recommend using a standard push mower or a reel mower for this. They are going to be easier to control, and you run a lower risk of getting stuck with something that’s lighter. Its also nice to have something that has an even distribution of weight across the rear wheel system. This minimizes the risk of leaving muddy rut marks.
Stay away from electric lawn mowers when the grass is wet for obvious reasons.
Would I recommend that you mow the grass when you have a massive amount of water in your yard? No. If you don’t have to cut it, don’t waste your time. On the other hand, if your grass is just a bit wet, it’s not the worst sin you can commit, and there are times when you don’t have much of a choice. Sometimes it can rain four or five days in a row and you can’t help but to get out there and get it done. The most important things to be aware of are the wet clippings and the risk of leaving rut marks all over your yard.
You can absolutely get away with cutting your grass in the rain under the right conditions. If you have established turf and the correct equipment, you should be fine. Make sure your mower is lightweight and take extra care to prevent yourself from slipping.