It is never a good idea to mow wet grass. But if you want to know how to mow wet grass because you live in a rainy climate, or it seems like it rains on every weekend where you live, then I’ll share my tips for mowing wet grass without damaging your lawn in this article.
But first, there are a number of reasons why it’s important to avoid mowing in wet conditions.
Let’s go over them here so you understand the risks.
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Reasons To Avoid Mowing Wet Grass
Here are the four reasons I don’t recommend mowing wet grass if you can avoid it:
- When you cut wet grass it becomes sticky and clumpy. This can clog your mower; and as you continue to mow it’s likely to clog repeatedly. This means having to clear the mower deck where the blade lives over and over again, which increases the risk for injury.
- Wet grass is a falling hazard due to its slippery nature. A fall itself can result in injury, but a fall with a mower could lead to a catastrophic injury. On a riding mower, this means that the mower itself can end up sliding and potentially roll over.
- You’ll get patchy results when you cut wet grass. Your grass blades will bend over due to the weight of the moisture, producing a patchy and unsightly mowing job.
- Experts claim mowing a wet lawn will lead to permanent damage. Root damage can result from riding mower tires, and clumps of wet clippings suffocating parts of your lawn are just a few ways you can damage your lawn. Cutting lawns in moist conditions can also result in fungus or disease gaining a foothold in your yard.
Mowing a wet lawn is unsafe, and it’s also inconvenient.
You’ll finish with soggy shoes, spend extra time cleaning clumps of clippings from your mower during and after you mow, and it’s likely that your mower will clog frequently as you navigate your yard.
If you’re bagging your clippings, your mower bag will be soaked (and it could get moldy).
I Get it, But I Have to Mow
If you really need to cut the lawn while the grass is still wet, I understand. If it has been raining for weeks, or if you work 6 days a week and every Sunday it’s raining you may be out of other options.
There are important considerations to make and rules to follow to ensure your safety and to avoid damaging your lawn.
Let’s dig into those here.
Is My Lawn Too Wet to Mow?
Before you mow after a heavy rainfall, evaluate the moisture content of your lawn.
Even if you have to mow a wet lawn, it might not be best to do so immediately after it rains.
There are different degrees of moisture that can change how effectively and safely you’ll be able to mow your lawn.
When it May Be Ok to Mow a Wet Lawn
Morning dew, at one end of the spectrum, can be just a small amount of moisture.
Dew typically is exclusive to the blades of grass and does not soak into the soil very much.
This kind of condition is more tenable; perhaps you really do need to mow the lawn that morning before work or errands in preparation for an event later. In that case go ahead.
When You Definitely Should Not Mow a Wet Lawn
At the other end of the spectrum, if you have experienced days of downpour then the ground is likely saturated with moisture.
Take a walk on your lawn before you mow. Are your shoes soaked? Are your feet sinking into the ground?
If so, the lawn simply isn’t dry enough to mow. Hold off.
What Mower Are You Working With?
The type of mower you are using is also important to consider here.
Wet grass can be a skating rink for a riding mower. If you’ve never seen a mower slide on wet grass or roll over it’s easy to downplay this risk, but I urge you not to.
A riding mower on wet grass will likely slide around on any kind of incline. The last thing you want is to tip or roll over when using a riding mower on a hill with wet grass.
This is true even on what seems like a small incline.
Wet grass is surprisingly slippery and can be very dangerous on a riding mower.
You also shouldn’t use an electric mower on wet grass … for obvious reasons.
Water is an electrical conductor. So using an electric mower in wet conditions increases the likelihood of electrocution or electrical shock.
What’s the Best Type of Mower for Wet Grass?
The most appropriate type of mower to use on wet grass is a gas-powered push or self-propelled mower.
It is also crucial for the blade of your mower to be sharp; a sharp blade won’t produce a patchy mowing job, even if your mowing wet grass.
Using a mower with a sharp blade also means your mower will be less likely to become clogged with wet grass. I have a guide about sharpening your mower blade if you’re interested in learning how to do it.
While not essential, adjusting your mower deck to the highest setting can also be helpful. This can help to prevent clogging or scalping your lawn.
You may be interested in my article about choosing the best lawn mower for wet grass if you live in the pacific northwest or another rainy region.
What Else Should I Know About How to Mow Wet Grass?
It’s never a good idea, but if you must mow wet grass:
- Use a walk-behind gas-powered mower,
- Set your mower deck on the highest setting,
- Pay attention and watch your footing, and
- Try to mow when the grass is wet but the soil isn’t saturated.
With that said, if you’re willing and able to wait until the grass is dry, there are a couple of signs your lawn is ready to mow:
- Wait until you can walk across your lawn without your shoes getting wet. Your feet should not sink into the ground due to water saturation.
- Wet grass tends to bend due to the weight of the water droplets, while dry grass will stand up tall.
If you can, avoid trying to mow your lawn first thing in the morning due to the morning dew, after rain, or generally during wet weather.
But if you have to mow a wet lawn, a lawn that’s simply wet from morning dew is the best of these bad options because the soil itself isn’t going to be saturated.
Mowing in an evening that follows a sunny afternoon is my preferred time to mow.
You can sit on the deck and enjoy a cold one after the kids are in bed, smelling freshly cut grass and looking out over your yard with satisfaction. Not bad.
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