Can You Mow Wet Grass?

So, it’s time to mow the lawn. But the grass is still wet and you’re left asking yourself, “To mow, or not to mow: that is the question?”

Mowing wet grass damages it, puts it at risk of fungal disease and can even kill it. Cutting wet grass can also ruin your mower and put your own personal safety at risk. If you want to do what’s best for you, your lawn and your equipment; don’t mow the grass while it’s damp.

But if you have no other option, mowing wet grass is possible. But there are some things you need to be aware of to do it properly and safely.

So, why shouldn’t you mow grass when it’s wet?

I’m glad you asked! Read on to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of mowing wet grass.

If you’re looking for the short version, scroll down to the heading “So is mowing wet grass bad?”

Why should you not cut wet grass?

It’s never the best idea to mow wet grass as it will cost you more time and energy in the extra work that it creates. Grass is heavier when wet and are often bent under the weight of the water. Once the grass dries, and the blades spring back up you’ll need to do the job all over again; making your first mow a waste of time and energy.

Unless you really love mowing, save it for when you’ll be able to do the job just once.

Not only that, mowing wet grass is bad for the overall health of your lawn, for several reasons. So if you are still asking if it is it better to mow before or after rain, then in most cases mowing grass before a rain is best.

Can You Mow In The Rain?

The thing to think of before mowing in the rain is your own personal safety. Grass is a very slick surface when wet, which puts you at risk of slipping. That alone can put you at risk of a pulled muscle or damaged tailbone (landing on that is incredibly painful, believe me).

Add a lawnmower into the mix, and the risk of body parts going under it, and I’m sure you can see how this could end very badly. Mowing accidents do happen, and they aren’t pretty.

Perhaps you have the right kind of grippy shoes or just aren’t worried about slipping. In that case, why not go ahead and mow the lawn in the rain?

As long as the landscape is not too soggy, you are likely to get away with mowing in the rain. But if the ground is too wet it can cause lawn ruts which is a whole other problem. You need to assess if it is a light sprinkle of rain or a heavy down pour and use your common sense!

Read on for more issues and solutions around mowing wet lawn.

Mowing After Rain – Damp grass doesn’t cut cleanly.

There’s nothing nicer than the look of a freshly cut lawn. That is unless you cut it wet!!

When you cut wet, you run the risk of mud tracking. This is when the mower tires bring the muddy water to the surface and covers the blades of the grass.

It is really quite ugly, and won’t go away until your next rain. I have to take a picture of a mower track, but until I do here is mud tracking done by a car on lawn

will mowing wet hurt grass

Will mowing wet grass kill it?

Mowing your lawn wet does not guarantee that you will kill it. But it is likely to do some harm, and can ultimately kill it and cause a patchy lawn.

When mowing a wet lawn you’re actually opening the door for fungus and disease to take hold of your lawn! This is because wet grass doesn’t cut cleanly, it tears. These tears, combined with the damp, create the perfect conditions for fungal growth and turf diseases.

If the grass is wet, then the soil beneath it probably is as well. You don’t want to mow on moist ground; your mower can sink into it. The degree of damage depends on the degree of damp: if the earth is really soggy, the wheels will form ruts, directly damaging the grass, and tearing up the roots. Once that happens, yep that lawn is not coming good again for a while.

The other less obvious danger is if the ground isn’t soggy enough for the wheels to sink in, the soil will still be compacted by the mowing. While this might not sound too bad on the surface, it does affect the root system beneath.

A healthy lawn needs its roots to be able to access oxygen, water and nutrients to survive (Just like us!). When the soil gets compacted, it means that these essentials can’t get in, and the grass dies.

How do I stop grass from clumping when I mow?

mowing dewy grass

When you mow wet grass it clumps together, creating problems for your lawn and your mower. The clumps of clippings left on the lawn can kill the patches of grass beneath it.

This is because, the grass underneath does not get enough sunlight and airflow. On top of this there is prolonging the damp in that spot and again, enabling fungal strains and diseases to take hold.

If you want to grow a beautiful, healthy lawn to impress your friends (who wouldn’t be proud of a well-maintained lawn?), then the last thing you need is ugly brown patches of diseased turf. These will take time to heal and may require the purchase and use of fungicide before your lawn is healthy again.

Wet grass stains.

Cut wet grass stains a lot. Everything it gets on will be green. You, your shoes, your driveway, any place the clippings are blown. It will transfer to your floors if you don’t take your shoes off at the door. Wet grass even stains concrete, and it takes a lot of scrubbing to remove.

If you have kids or pets that like to play outside… say hello to your new little green gremlins. I lost more than one pair of pants to grass-stained knees in my childhood, (much to my mother’s dismay) learn from my mistakes. Spare yourself the pain. Just don’t cut it while it’s wet.

Does cutting wet grass hurt the mower?

Wet grass clumps and sticks to everything they come into contact with; including the mower. A build-up of clumpy grass under your mower deck (the protective casing between you and the blades), will affect the efficiency of the blades. Clogging up the deck also puts extra strain on the engine. It could result in it choking out, or ruining you mower altogether.

If you do mow wet your congested mower deck will definitely need to be cleaned out afterwards. You may even need to keep checking it while mowing (make sure you turn off your mower first) to make sure it doesn’t get too congested.

Wet clippings can grow mould on your lawnmower.

Cleaning the mower isn’t just about prolonging the life of your equipment and making your job easier. It’s also for the sake of your lawn. We already know that damp, clumpy clippings invite fungus; tucked away under your mower, they can also provide a home for mould. Which will then be spread into your lawn the next time you mow.

So, is mowing wet grass bad?

By this point, I’m sure you’ll agree that cutting wet grass is a bad idea. Just in case, here’s the TLDR (too long, didn’t read) version:

  • It’s unsafe: you can slip and do anything from pull a muscle to receiving amputation by the mower.
  • It causes you more work: you’ll have to mow more than once, and there’s a lot of cleaning.
  • Risk of fungal infection for your lawn
  • Compressed earth that results in starving your lawn to death
  • Damaging the grass directly by creating ruts
  • Clogging up the mower (did I mention extra cleaning?)

What time does grass dry in the morning?

You want to give the grass enough time to dry from the morning dew so you are not mowing dewy lawn. The time that it will be dry is impacted by a few factors; such as the season, and whether or not your lawn gets the morning sun.

From 8am-10am is generally a good option. Remember that the sun rises earlier and is warmer in summer than in winter, so if you like to mow early in the morning, then you may need to adjust your mowing times seasonally.

How long should I wait to mow grass after it rains?

There isn’t really a set time (such as x hours). If you’ve had a light shower followed by sunshine, you won’t have to wait as long as if there’s been a torrential downpour for an extended period, followed by cloud cover.

If you can walk across your lawn without wetting your shoes, it’s a good bet that’s dry enough to mow. If you still aren’t sure, look at the blades of grass themselves: if they look weighed down, then it’s too wet, but if they’re standing tall, it’s time to mow.

What if I need to mow the lawn while it’s still wet?

Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. It’s not always feasible to wait until the grass is dry: maybe you’re in a wet season where the only opportunity to mow is the short pauses between rainfall.

Can it be done?

Yes! Here’s how:

How to cut wet grass.

While it is not the best idea, you can mow wet grass. Here are the tips to make the best of a bad situation:

How to prep your mower before cutting wet grass.

Make sure your mower blades are sharp (if you don’t know how to do this safely, take it to a service centre where someone else can do it for you). You’ll also want to raise your mower wheels higher than you would usually have it; it’ll put less strain on the engine when it tries to cut through the wet grass.

Spray cooking oil or silicone spray onto the underside of the mower deck, this will prevent (or a least minimise) the clumps sticking. If your mower has mulching or catching attachments, take them off: they are going to get too congested, so just focus on mowing and deal with the clippings at the end.

Personal safety while mowing.

Start with some suitable footwear. Make sure it’s got an excellent grip to minimise your risk of slipping. Double-check it by stepping onto the grass and while holding a stabiliser (like a tree or a post), test the grip of your sole on the grass; you want to be sure that it’s got some traction. It’s also handy to have someone else home, just in case you do fall.

Mowing a wet lawn.

As you mow, only cut about half the width of grass you usually would on each pass; the less your mower has to try and cut through, the less strain you’ll put on the engine.

Finally, once you’ve finished mowing the lawn, make sure to rake up all the clippings (but gently enough that you don’t tear the roots out of the soft soil). Then clean everything; your shoes, the mower and anywhere the clippings landed. Minimise the stains and the potential for fungal and mould growths.

Once you’re done, it’s still best to keep your pets and children off the lawn until it’s dried. When it comes to dealing with stains: prevention is better than the clean-up.

The bottom line: Can you cut wet grass? it’s best not to cut wet grass, but if you are going to, then be smart about it.

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