There are times when your schedule and mother nature’s weather just don’t align properly. Not to mention the simple frustrations of a poorly timed sprinkler system! More than one Saturday afternoon has been ruined this way.
Of course, rain and disagreeable sprinkler systems are the only things that can dampen your lawn. From spring, through summer and into the early fall, evening dew from high humidity can settle on your grass. If the day is cool, or you simply have a bunch of trees blocking the eastern rising sun, it might take hours for the grass to thoroughly dry out.
These are precious hours wasted waiting for something as simple as condensation to go away. So, you might be wondering can you mow wet grass?
The answer depends on just how wet the grass is, as well as the kind of lawnmower you have.
In the peak of summer, one of the best ways to beat the heat, and spare your precious Saturday afternoon, is to mow the grass in the morning. The temperatures are usually low and the sun isn’t high enough in the sky to beat on you relentlessly.
If we’re just talking about a little bit of morning dew, moistening the blades of grass, then chances are most lawnmowers can chew right through it. Though you do have to be a little worried about clumps of grass being left behind on the lawn. Wet grass clippings tend to clump together. This can turn them into thatch, which settles down into the turf. If enough thatch builds up it could start to choke your lawn. Not to mention the need to seasonal aeration.
If the grass is completely soaked with morning dew, then you might need to give the sun a few hours to evaporate it. If you play your cards just right, you might be able to get the lawn mowed before it gets too hot.
Cutting The Grass After A Light Rain
In certain parts of the United States and Canada, summer is a time of sporadic rain. One minute you’re getting ready to mow, when suddenly the sky clouds over with a gentle summer cloud burst. It’s maybe not enough rain to ruin your day but still ends up being just enough sprinkles to dampen your lawn.
Lightly wet grass should be given an hour or two in full sun to properly dry out. Then you should be able to mow it confidently. Here again, watch out for clumps of wet grass clippings. If you’ve got a lawnmower with a bagging attachment or a mulching mode this is the time to use it. Up to 5 hours should be more than fine. Most importantly is you don’t want to mow if the ground is at all soggy.
Cutting The Grass After The Sprinkler Runs
There are times when even the most sophisticated lawn irrigation system can find a way to rain on your parade. If you catch it early on, and the grass was already a little dry you can just let the turf soak it up and you can mow in an hour or two. Though if the sprinklers have been running for a while, and they’ve put down a solid inch or two of water, you might need to give it several hours to dry out before moving. Especially if the weather is on the cool side, or the sprinklers were running in the late afternoon.
Why You Shouldn’t Mow Wet Grass
Heavy rains are just a fact of life, and they are often a good thing when it comes to making sure the deepest levels of your turf are getting good and saturated. Though they also tend to make the grass way too wet to cut. Sometimes for even a day or more afterward!
Right off the bat, you should never cut the grass in the rain or while the grass is wet. Not only is it bad for the lawnmower, especially electric lawnmowers, but it’s dangerous for you the operator as well. Water can get in carburetors, foul spark plugs, damage brushing, ruin headlights, and cause expensive electrical faults.
It’s also worth noting that walking over very wet turf can damage it. The delicate layers of roots, thatch, and pockets of air can become compressed under the weight of your feet or the wheels of the lawnmower. In a severe case, you might need to aerate your lawn in places to prevent dead spots.
Top Reasons Why Mowing Wet Grass Is Never A Good Idea
- Electric mowers run the risk of electrocution
- Uneven cutting due to bended grass closer to the ground
- Lawn clippings can clump on the ground
- More clogs in your mower
- Lawn diseases & fungus can spread easier
- It’s more difficult overall
- You can slip or fall
- Wheel ruts in the grass
- Staining on clothing
- Moisture is not good for any lawn mower parts
How Long Should I Wait After A Rainstorm To Cut The Grass?
If you just had a serious summer downpour or an all-day rain event then you will likely need to give the lawn a full day to dry out. Maybe more if the weather is cool and cloudy.
Wet grass tends to lay down when wet, so even if you can get the blades to hack through tall wet grass, chances are you’ll have a very poor harvest rate. When things do dry out and the sun shines you’ll likely find all kinds of inconsistent areas that need to be cut all over again.
Adding to this is grass having the annoying tendency to stick together when wet. You end up with clumps of grass clipping pepper the lawn, choking the soil and thatch.
Can Wet Grass Clippings Damage A Lawn Mower?
Wet grass clippings also have a tendency to clump up under the cutting deck, and can matt onto the textured areas of the cutting blade. Left unchecked the dampness of grass clippings can contribute to long-term rust and corrosion issues.
Ideally, you should clean grass clippings from under the cutting deck after every mowing session. These days a lot of high-quality lawnmower manufacturers are offering lawnmowers with a special deck wash feature. You simply connect a standard garden hose and the nozzle under the deck creates a pressurized spray that clears away stuck-on grass clippings.
It’s also worth noting that the cutting deck isn’t the only place that needs to be clean of wet grass clippings. A bagger is notorious for holding onto remnants of grass clippings. When they’re wet, a real risk of mold can develop, with some strains potentially being toxic. So, if you do have a bagging lawnmower, be sure to thoroughly wipe out the grass collection bin!
How To Mow A Wet Lawn
So, if for some reason you have no choice, there are a few tips to make it a smoother process. Of course we do not recommend it, but here it goes.
- Keep mower blades super sharp
- Cut smaller swatches at once to prevent caking
- Large wheels move easier, and cause less damage
- Use a Gas Mower, never an electric mower
- Add stabilizer to gas
- Raise wheels higher, putting less strain on engine
- Remove clippings immediately, don’t mulch or bag
- Clean and dry the mower as soon as you’re finished