It just rained and your lawn is all wet. Can you cut grass when wet? Normally, you should wait for the grass to dry before running your mower over it, but in some circumstances, you can go ahead and mow a wet turf.
When you cut your grass when it is dry, the clippings scatter and don’t stick on the wheels of the mower. That’s not the case when mowing wet grass.
In most cases, you’ll need a really good gas-powered lawn mower to be able to cut wet grass in the rain or even after it rains. It gets worse when your yard has tall, overgrown grass.
Is it bad to mow wet grass?
It is not a good idea to mow grass when wet. The task will be heavy, messy, and uneven. You also risk leaving moist clumps of clippings on your lawn, exposing it to extended periods of moisture that can lead to turfgrass fungus.
If the mowing task can wait, it is best to mow grass when it is dry. This way, you’ll get a much cleaner and even cut with the possibility of mulching and bagging the clippings without any problems.
I’ve discussed below more reasons why it is a bad idea to mow your lawn when wet and what you should do instead.
Why You Should Not Mow a Wet lawn
A little dew in the morning can appear as though it won’t trouble you when mowing, but once you get down to cutting the wet grass, you’ll soon notice how tough it can be.
Here’s why should you not cut the grass when it’s wet:
You can damage the lawn mower
Rainstorms can easily cause waterlogged areas in your yard. For you to mow wet turf, you will need a powerful lawn mower with a deck you can adjust high enough. Here’s a quick guide on how to adjust the deck of your mower to the right cutting height.
In addition, a wider deck may make it easier to move over the lawn especially if the grass has just a little dew on it.
For a push-behind lawn mower, you’ll really struggle to cut through a dense turf with wet grass. But that is not the only problem you’ll have.
Will mowing wet grass ruin lawn mower?
For an electric lawn mower or strimmer, you run the risk of being electrocuted. In addition, you can easily damage electric and battery-powered lawnmowers if you mow in the rain.
Mowing a wet lawn as it rains also risks contaminating the fuel in your gas-powered mower especially if you do not add a gas stabilizer in the tank. And the last thing you want is a dirty or contaminated fuel system.
See also my article on the type of gas to use for your lawn mower.
The wet clippings also pose the danger of blocking parts of your lawnmower that are important to its performance. For example, they can cause blockage on the blades, clogged vacuum, or even dirty air filters. Your lawn mower machine likely won’t start the next time you want to use it because of this damage.
If your lawnmower is not powerful enough, it can easily overheat when you trim damp grass, exposing it to possible damage. Refer to these tips on handling overheating issues in lawnmowers.
Wet grass bends and lies closer to the ground compared to a dry turf. This is because the dew on the grass blades makes them heavy, forcing them to bend down instead of standing upright.
For you to cut the grass properly, the blades need to stand upright, otherwise, your mower will miss most of the grass, producing an uneven cut across your lawn.
As soon as the rainwater starts to drain away and the grass blades dry up, sections of your lawn will start to appear as though you did not mow them. This uneven cut will make you go over the lawn and mow it afresh to get that even cut.
Clippings clump on the lawn
It is not a good idea to mow wet grass, especially on a regular basis because the mower will produce wet clippings that easily clump together and lay over your grass.
When wet clippings bunch-up and stay on your grass for some time, they keep a lot of moisture over an extended period and leave your lawn prone to fungus and other diseases. It is best to cut dry grass because the clippings will be shredded and spread evenly over your lawn.
If you still prefer to mow your lawn after it rains, you might want to consider getting a drag unit to help you clear the soaked clippings off the grass.
In addition, check the deck frequently when mowing turfgrass after the rain to make sure the clippings are not clumping it, which can be a problem for air-tapered decks.
Easy spread of diseases
Lawn diseases usually spread in patches and that is why cutting grass when it is wet is not recommended. Wet blades of the mower easily carry disease-causing agents and transfer them onto freshly-cut grass blades.
The rate of spreading turfgrass diseases is higher when you mow immediately after rain or during rain.
If you see any signs of turfgrass infection, wait till the grass dries up before taking out your lawn mower to run over and snip the grass blades and cut them short.
It is too much work
On a wet turf, the clippings easily bunch up and clog the mower. Pushing it can be really difficult and a lot of work compared to when mowing wet grass. If you go ahead, you’ll be creating a lot more work for yourself than you’d expect.
Here’s how much more work you’ll have to do if you cut grass after it rains:
- You first want to remove the dew off the grass blades before mowing a wet lawn.
- Prepare to clear the clumps of wet clippings off the lawn to prevent diseases.
- If you’re using a push-behind lawn mower, it will take a lot of energy to cut a small area because of the slippery turf as well as the clogging mower.
It is best to cut wet grass using a gas-powered mower with a powerful motor. Mostly, commercial-grade lawn mowers are preferred for this kind of work over machines meant for small yards.
You risk slipping
After a rainstorm, your lawn is likely to be slippery and dangerous to walk on or even ride a lawn mower over.
- You risk slipping and spraining your leg.
- You can easily lose control of a riding lawn mower when the turf is wet.
These risks are heightened if you’re mowing a lawn on a slope after it rains, so you’d better wait for the turf to dry up.
How to Mow a Wet Lawn
There are times when you will still need to mow your lawn when it rains. In fact, it is highly advised that you attempt to cut the grass instead of leaving it to grow too tall as you wait for sunny days.
It is not recommended, but if you must, here’s how to cut wet grass:
1. Sharpen the blades of your mower
Blunt blades can make trimming a wet turf a tough job since wet grass weighs down instead of standing upright. The grass will evade the blades, making it difficult to get an even cut.
One way of fixing this is to ensure the blades are sharp enough to not brush over and push grass blades aside or sideways.
2. Use mowers with large wheels
A wet turf means soft ground that can easily be torn and damaged when too much pressure is exerted on it. Since you also risk tearing up your yard when mowing after heavy rains, you may want to choose the right mower for this job.
A lawn mower with wide wheels is highly recommended for this job to reduce the risk of rut damage because of the sinking soft surface.
However, I would advise you to check the soil first to see if it is muddy. If so, you’d rather wait and mow your lawn later when the lawn dries up.
3. Use a gas-powered lawn mower
A gas-powered mower is less likely to pose a bigger risk of electric shock when you mow your lawn in the rain. That is why I would recommend using it instead of a corded electric lawnmower.
Some experts recommend spraying silicone or some sort of oil under the lawnmower to prevent wet grass from sticking onto the deck and causing a sticky mess.
I have found grass-cutting machines with serrated blades to do a better job at cutting grass after rain. However, most of these are commercial-grade lawn mowers and may be too expensive for an average homeowner who wants to maintain a small yard.
4. Raise the mowing deck
To reduce load stress on your lawn mower, ensure that you raise the cutting deck of the mower you’re using. If you choose a very low mowing height, you’ll put too much stress on the engine and possibly lead to a mechanical failure.
Also, raising the mowing deck means smoother and easier passes compared to when using a lower mowing height.
You can compensate for the high mowing height by mowing more often than you’re used to – probably 2 more times per week.
5. Cut the grass in smaller swatches
If you decide to mow your lawn after it rains, cut the wet grass in small swatches than you would normally do.
Narrower passes will help reduce the amount of grass you cut in a single pass and reduce the load on the lawn mower, making your work easier while preventing instances of overheating the mower’s engine.
Also, it is better to use a zero turn lawn mower, otherwise ensure you do not make sharp turns that may put you in danger of injury.
6. Discharge the clippings
Since we all prefer bagging or mulching, this option will not work well when cutting wet grass. Bagging can easily damage the bag because wet grass cuttings are very heavy.
The wet grass clippings will also leave the bag extremely dirty and possibly discolored.
To successfully cut wet grass after rain, discharge the clippings onto the turf using the side chutes on your lawn.
7. Clean the clippings off the turf
Leaving clumps of grass clippings on your lawn is risking disease. After mowing in the rain, make sure you use a rake to collect the wet clippings and remove them from your grass.
While this is an extra turf you may not have planned for, it will go a long way in helping maintain healthy turf.
8. Clean the lawn mower when done
When done, clean the lawn mower or strimmer to remove any grass clippings that may be stuck on the blades and the underside of the cutting deck.
If you leave that much dirt on the lawn mower, there will be moss growing on the blades and other parts of the machine. The next time you go out mowing, you’ll be spreading fungi and moss.
Leaving the mower dirty with grass damp clippings and moisture exposes it to the risk of rusting and getting spoiled.
You might also want to drain the fuel just in case it is contaminated with moisture. Contaminated fuel can mean the lawn mower won’t start the next time you want to use it.
How wet is too wet to mow?
There are times when you’ll be able to mow wet grass successfully. However, the level of wetness or dampness will determine if you’ll be successful or not. So, how wet is too wet to cut grass?
- If the ground is soggy, do not mow. Postpone until the ground dries and firms up.
- Light morning dew may not pose a lot of difficulties. Clear it off with a lawn dew brush and proceed to mow.
- It is not recommended to mow in the rain especially if you’re using a corded electric lawn mower.
If the exercise can wait, do it when the grass is dry to prevent too many complications.
How soon can you mow the lawn after rain?
When the rainy season kicks in, it can be difficult to get a dry lawn. So, how long should you wait to mow the grass after it rains?
How long you should wait will depend on how dewy your lawn is. After light showers, you only need to wait for 2 to 5 hours for the grass to dry before mowing it. Rainstorms can leave the ground soggy and in such a case, you may have to wait for up to a day to mow safely without damaging the lawn.
To reduce the time it takes, you can clear the dew off the grass to make it lighter and ready for mowing.
- University of Arkansas System, DIVISION OF AGRICULTURE RESEARCH & EXTENSION: Mowing Your Lawn
Hi, Alex Kuritz here. Growing up I remember that my family had one of the best lawns in the neighborhood. Richly green and lush. I did a lot as I grew up in terms of caring and tending for not only my family’s lawn but also my neighbors. I can say I have years of experience, and I am here to share it with you.