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With All This Rain, How Should I Be Mowing My Wet Lawn?

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Everyone has heard the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  This may be because spring is often the time of year when most of the country receives plenty of rain. Mowing can be a real challenge when it seems like it rains every weekend.

For those of you who use a maintenance service, your normal mowing day is often pushed back due to rain delays.  Since these companies are in the business to mow lawns, sometimes they have to “push it” to make sure that each client is serviced in a timely schedule. Still, they have to take precautions to avoid damaging lawns. For those of us who still mow our own lawns, the weekend is usually the only time we have sunlight and the spare time to mow. Here are some best practices for mowing wet grass.

Take Precaution

If you have to mow your lawn when it is wet follow these 2 precautionary steps.

  1. Make sure you have a sharp blade on your mower, it is always a good idea, but even more so when the grass is wet.
  2. Be sure to clean the underside of the deck as the grass will stick to the underside of the deck. Use extra caution when performing this task and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for accessing the underside of the deck.  If nothing else, be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire.

Potential Risks

If possible, wait for the grass to dry off before mowing. Mowing when the turf and soil are wet can lead to other problems:

  • If you are using a mulching mower or a bagger attachment, they will often get clogged with wet grass and not function properly.
  • Wet soil will compact easier than dry soil, which can lead to poor rooting of the turf.
  • If you use a riding mower, you could tear out sections of grass when:
    • making turns
    • mowing on sloped areas
    • Starting a new pass from a dead stop.

Length Matters

Ideally, you should set your mower so that you do not remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any time.  However, that is not always possible in the spring when it seems to rain all of the time.

Lawn Mowing

As long as you are mowing high and not leaving behind large clipping clumps it won’t be detrimental, if you do cut more than one-third of the leaf blade off. When this happens on my own lawn, I will set the mower at the highest setting and mow in one direction and then I lower it one notch and mow in a perpendicular direction.

Summer will arrive soon enough and mowing will turn into a normal weekly event. There may even come a time later in the summer when it becomes dry and you may not even need to mow your lawn. Just remember to mow your lawn high and it is always a good idea to leave the clippings behind to recycle the nutrients back into your lawn.