We all like to mow on our own schedules. While your lawn will set its own schedule to some extent—you need to mow before it gets too long—there are still more and less convenient times. But sometimes, the most convenient time for you just isn’t a good time to mow, especially if the lawn is wet. Heavy rains can soak your lawn, but even a light rain can be a problem. In fact, even a heavy layer of dew in the morning can be a problem. Mowing a wet lawn is never a good idea for quite a few reasons. Here are some of them.
It’s Bad for Your Grass
The whole point of mowing is to take care of your lawn. But if you are mowing a wet lawn, you aren’t doing it any favors. In fact, mowing a wet lawn can damage the turf more than it helps.
When you mow grass, you never want to take off more than the top third of the blade. Regular mowing can help keep your grass at the correct height, but mowing your lawn when it is wet can throw that off. Normally, when you mow a dry lawn, the rotating blades pull up the grass so it stands straight, and the blades cut off the top third of the grass. But wet grass can get bent over from the weight of the water. And the bending isn’t consistent. If you mow when the lawn is wet, you could end up cutting some blades and not others. When the grass dries and stands straight again, the blades will be different heights. Some blades will need mowing, and some won’t, throwing off your mowing schedule.
When grass is dry, a sharp mower slices off the top of the blade, but when the grass is wet, the mower can’t make a clean slice. Instead, the grass tears apart, leaving the blades unhealthy and harming the turf plant. The torn grass is stressed, and the torn open blades are susceptible to fungus and disease.
When you mow wet grass, the clippings clump together. Those clippings can form a thick mat on some parts of your lawn, choking off the grass beneath.
It’s Not Good for the Soil
We always recommend against walking on your lawn when it is wet. And mowing a wet lawn is even worse. One of the main reasons to avoid walking on a wet lawn is that the wet soil is loose, making it much easier to tear up the grass from the roots. Just walking around can tear up your turf. Walking up and down across your entire lawn, as you do when you mow, can damage your entire lawn. And the mower can do even more damage. Passing a heavy mower over your lawn can tear up the grass. The wheels can leave ruts and pull up grass from its roots. This is especially harmful because you are covering your entire lawn.
Walking on the soil when it is wet is also problematic because it can compact the soil. If the soil gets compacted, it is harder for air, water, and nutrients to penetrate. It also makes it harder for roots to grow deep into the ground. Passing over the lawn with heavy machinery like a mower will further compact the soil.
It Can Damage Your Mower
Standard mowers are not built to handle moisture. All of the metal parts are susceptible to corrosion if they get wet, and they are hard to dry. And if water gets into the gas tank, it can ruin your engine. Electric mowers are also problematic because electricity and water should never mix.
Wet grass clippings are also a problem for your mower. Your mower is very efficient at handling grass clipping under normal dry conditions. The clippings are sucked up from the force of the rotating blades and shot into a bag, a mulcher, or out the side of the mower. But wet grass clippings clump together, gumming up your mower’s moving parts. The wet clippings will also stick to every part of your mower, from the blades to the blower and everything in between. If you bag your clippings, wet grass will stick to the inside of the bag, and it can be difficult to clean it out completely.
It’s a Mess
We’re all familiar with grass stains and how hard they are to get out of clothing. But did you know that wet grass stains more easily? And it’s not just the knees of your pants. Mowing wet grass can stain your shoes, the bottom of your pants, and even your driveway.
Mowing a wet lawn also means dealing with mud. If you’re dealing with a lot of mud, it means you are tearing up your garden and damaging the soil. But it also makes a mess of your clothing and your mower. If you let the mud dry on your mower, it can damage the parts and dull the blade.
Mowing a Wet Lawn is Dangerous
Let’s face it, pushing around heavy machinery with high-speed spinning blades on slippery wet grass is a recipe for disaster. The disaster scenario is that somehow you manage to get a limb in contact with the spinning blades, causing severe injury. That’s not likely, but it’s also far from the only danger.
Walking on wet grass is dangerous as it is. You could slip and fall, causing sprains and even broken bones. And when you add the effort of pushing around a bulky item like a mower, the likelihood of an injury increases. If you have even a slight slope on any part of your lawn, you also run the risk of the mower slipping. While it’s unlikely you would come into contact with the blades, the mower can bump into you or pull away from you, causing strains, bruises, and pulled muscles.
How Dry Does It Have to Be?
Ideally, you should only water your lawn when it is dry enough that you can walk through the grass without your shoes getting wet. But sometimes the rain just won’t let up. It may rain every day for a week or more. If that’s the case, you may have no choice to mow a wet lawn. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, you can still take some safety measures. Try to wait until the lawn is at least dry enough that you don’t sink into the soil and no water bubbles up around your foot. If the lawn is so wet that you are sinking into the mud, you should really hold off on mowing.
When mowing a wet lawn, you can take some precautions to minimize damage. First, be sure to add stabilizer to your gas tank, just in case some moisture gets in. If you are using an electric mower, inspect it first to make sure there are no loose or broken parts. Next, ensure that your mower blades are sharp to minimize tearing. Make sure to remove the bag from your mower, to avoid filling the bag with wet clippings. When you are done, make sure to clean your mower thoroughly so there are no clippings or mud stuck to the blades or other parts. Wear good shoes or boots with strong grips. And if your lawn slopes in some places, consider waiting until they are dry.
If you’re worried about mowing a wet lawn, the best thing to do is take a look at the weather forecast a few days out. If you see several days of rain, mow the lawn now before it is wet. You’ll protect your lawn and save yourself lots of trouble.