Reasons You Should Not Cut Wet Grass
There are plenty of reasons not to mow after it rains. From the clumps and messiness to the health of your lawn, here are the main reasons you should just wait until the grass is dry before you pull out the trusty lawnmower.
Keeping your grass at the correct height is important for the overall health of the lawn. It keeps the blades of grass standing straight. However, it is best to grow the grass a little more than it is to cut the grass while it is wet.
The moisture will weigh the blades of grass down towards the ground. As the moisture evaporates, some blades will have more moisture than others left on them. This means that when you mow with any of the blades still wet, some of the wet blades will not get cut while the dry ones will. This can cause the lawn to appear uneven, even after it is fully dry.
Wet grass is also harder to cut cleanly. Instead, the mower may tear the grass. This can cause it to harbor moisture which can make it easier for fungus and mildew to grow. Fungi also likes to grow in the clumps of wet grass that remain after you mow. This is even true of the clumps that remain on your mower after you cut the wet grass. The clumps that the mower leaves on the yard can also suffocate the grass underneath. This could potentially kill the grass and leave dead spots throughout the lawn.
Also, the soft, wet soil can be compressed by the lawn mower wheels. This can form unsightly and damaging ruts in the lawn. It can also cause compacted soil over time. I have only mowed the yard a couple times while it was wet so I haven’t experienced most of these issues. However, I can say that the clumps and ruts made the yard unsightly for weeks after I decided to cut the wet grass.
Lawn mower engines are not supposed to have moisture in them. The water can corrode the metal and rust the lawn mower blades. The grass clumps can also rust the underside of the mower’s body. In addition, the clippings can cause stress on the blades and engine because they block the ability of the lawn mower to turn freely and rapidly. Mowing wet grass can also make the mower overheat.
In the past, I have mowed while the grass was still moist. I remember having difficulty keeping the lawn mower from dying. It stopped running time after time and the yard took longer than ever before to complete. In addition, the grass clumps were difficult to remove from the underside of the lawn mower and I had to leave some grass there. When it dried, it was still difficult to remove and was almost stuck onto the blades. I ended up having to get new lawn mower blades sooner than I would have otherwise.
Even with dry grass, my shoes and jeans sometimes get stained. However, it usually takes a long time and often comes out when I wash them. However, when I mowed the grass while it was still wet my jeans were completely green at the bottom. They had to be thrown out and my shoes were permanently stained. Good thing I have separate shoes for yard work anyways.
Mowing the grass while it is still wet can bring along some safety hazards. There is a much greater risk that you could slip and fall. The soil may also be soft and cause tripping as well. You never want to fall while there is a mower blade running. If you use an electric mower (or electric trimmer or weed eater), then there is also the risk of electrical shock.
How to Mow a Wet Lawn
Even though it is best to plan ahead and mow the lawn before it rains or wait until it is dry, sometimes you may be obligated to mow while the grass is still moist. If you do have to mow after it rains, then be sure to change a few things from the way that you usually mow.
First, it is a good idea to add stabilizer to the gasoline in the mower. Follow the directions on the stabilizer. This can help reduce the chance that your mower will suffer damage from cutting the wet grass and powering through the clumps that may get stuck underneath. It may also be a good idea to sharpen the mower blade so that it can effectively cut the wet grass. This may prevent it from tearing the grass instead. Also, you may want to push the mower along slower than normal to reduce the strain on the blade and engine.
You should raise the height of the mower wheels so that the engine does not have to work too hard. I definitely recommend doing this because if you don’t, the lawn mower engine may die over and over again and make the mowing process much longer, more difficult, and more aggravating.
When you are mowing, reduce the size of each lane as you pass. This will reduce the amount of friction on the lawn mower engine. You should also clean beneath the mower every so often so that the clumps of grass do not build up too much. You can take these clippings from beneath the lawn mower to your compost pile. You should also not worry about putting the grass in a bag for mulching because mulching doesn’t work well with wet lawns and the process of bagging it can be very messy.
Mowing a rain soaked lawn with any lawn mower is not recommended, but if you do so then use a push lawn mower. Riding lawn mowers have a tendency to slip and slide around and can be dangerous and ineffective.
How Long Should You Wait Before Mowing?
So, it is not a good idea to mow while the lawn is wet, but how long should you wait? If the lawn is only wet from dew or a light shower then you probably only have to wait a couple hours, especially if it is sunny and warm. This is good news because I often have short spells of rain while I am in the middle of mowing my lawn.
If the rain is enough to make the soil wet and soggy then you may have to wait longer. If you notice that the blades are bent towards the ground from the moisture on them, then it is likely too soon to mow. Once all the blades are standing upright and the soil is dry, then you are good to go.
One tip is to drag a garden hose across the grass to rub off any excess moisture on the blades. This is a great tip for those light Summer showers that do not soak the soil, but that leave the grass relatively wet. Instead of waiting for the grass blades to dry, you can do this to speed along the process.