How to cut wet grass – experts tips on mowing a wet lawn safely
If you can't wait until your lawn has dried out to cut it, follow these expert tips to avoid damaging your grass
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If you're someone who likes to get the lawn cut, no matter how wet the weather, there are certain things you'll need to bear in mind. The cut will never be as good as when the grass is completely dry, and it can sometimes cause damage to your lawn.
For this reason, whether or not you can mow wet grass is often hotly debated, but if you've decided that you absolutely can't wait until the grass has dried out, then there a few steps you should take to try and protect your lawn (and your mower).
‘Mowing wet grass is frowned upon, but sometimes people have no choice,’ says Eric DeBoer (opens in new tab), agronomist at Simple Lawn Solutions. ‘If your grass is wet from a 1in rainstorm and the soil is soaking wet, stay off the lawn for a few days and let the soil dry a bit prior to mowing. If the grass is wet from dew, it's not going to hurt anything to get out there and mow it off. The grass will likely clump together, and not look as pretty as a dry cut, but you're not doing anything harmful to the plant if mowing while wet.’
Expert advice on how to cut wet grass
‘Do bear in mind that mowing wet grass can be unsafe, as wet grass can be slippery and increase the risk of slipping and falling while mowing. Wet conditions can also make it harder to control your lawn mower, especially on sloped or uneven terrain, which can increase the risk of accidents,' says Stacie Krljanovic (opens in new tab), a head groundkeeper in Houston, TX and advisor to Patio Productions.
'Be sure to wear appropriate footwear with good traction to avoid slipping on the wet grass, and use a mower with good stability and traction as well,' adds Stacie. 'It's also a good idea to mow at a slower speed, and to avoid making sharp turns or sudden movements while mowing.'
If you want to mow wet grass in the safest possible way, there are a few tips you can follow to reduce the risk of damage and injury.
7 tips for cutting wet grass
- Test the soil If it feels muddy or your shoes get soaked when walking through it, seriously consider mowing on a different day – mowing in these conditions will do more harm than good and will leave your lawn looking worse than just slightly unkempt.
- Remove excess water from the lawn If the soil is still fairly solid and the grass is just a little moist then drag an extended hosepipe horizontally over your lawn in an attempt to remove as much water as possible. Follow an action similar to that you would use with a squeegee on your shower door and direct water into an area of the yard where it can be absorbed.
- Prepare your mower Mowing a wet lawn is harder and therefore will put more strain on your lawn mower. This can cause damage to your lawn mower, especially if it's a lighter or older model. Ensure that the blades are sharp, as this will help to reduce the pressure on your mower and cut the grass a little more easily.
- Place the blades on the highest setting Raising the mower blade by a level or two can help reduce the effort needed and result in a neat, even finish – albeit with a slightly longer lawn.
- Start by mowing a small row and go slowly If your mower sounds like it is struggling then stop and wait until the grass is drier or else you could risk your mower overheating and breaking. If you live in a very wet area and have a lot of lawn, it may be worth investing in a commercial mower as these are generally more up to the job of mowing a wet lawn.
- Empty the grass collector basket often Do not wait until it is full. This will prevent the mower deck (where the blades are) becoming clogged and will also keep everything lighter, reducing the strain on the mower.
- Clean your lawn mower properly after use According to the experts at Flymo (opens in new tab), you will also need to clean your mower more thoroughly if cutting in wet conditions. Wet grass can collect on the underside of the mower and clog up air inlets and filters, so it should be removed. Make sure it is disconnected from the power before you do this.
Can you use an electric mower when it's wet?
Although not advisable, it is possible to cut wet grass with a main powered mower. The result may be patchy though and it won’t really do the mower’s engine any good. Wet grass tends to stick around the cutting blades putting extra strain on the engine, often causing it to overheat. Never be tempted to use extension leads to run power to an electric mower in wet conditions and always plug into a GFCI (a ground fault circuit interrupter) protected outlet/circuit.
Gas powered and commercial mowers have more power behind them, so can handle wet grass more efficiently. There’s also less of a safety concern as you won't have to deal with electric cables and power points.
If you're thinking of when to start mowing your lawn in spring and the weather isn't quite on your side in terms of the grass drying out properly, make sure you follow the above safety tips. Alternatively, leave the mower in the shed or garage for another couple of weeks and wait until the weather has improved a little and the grass is less wet.
Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English
Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her
everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.
- Holly ReaneyContent Editor and Sub-editor
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