Read a book. Watch television. Go shopping. Don’t mow your grass when it’s wet. As a homeowner, I’ve never cut my grass when it’s wet, primarily because the grass tends to clump and the lawn doesn’t look as nice as when the grass is dry. Problem is, as a lawn care professional, I mow 10 or more lawns per day, five or six days a week. When the grass is too wet to mow, my schedule clogs up worse than my mower choking on wet grass.
Am I guilty of mowing wet grass to try to stay on schedule? Absolutely. Yet as I write this, I should be mowing. It is a Monday morning. 9:30. According to my schedule, I should be wrapping up my first lawn of the day about now. But I am at my desk, writing this post, because it rained off and on last night and the grass is soaked.
I know it’s not good for the lawn or for my equipment to mow grass when it’s wet. I wasn’t sure how big a ‘no-no’ it is, so I’ve done some research. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Mowing wet grass can cause fungus to spread more quickly in a lawn, damaging the turf. It’s not automatic. Don’t think that mowing grass when it’s wet will result in your grass dying from a fungal disease. However, wet grass provides the optimum environment for this to happen.
Additionally, mowing when it’s wet can lead to soil compaction, particularly with a heavy riding mower, and it’s also easy for a zero-turn riding mower to damage the turf when the ground is soft and wet. Finally, mowing wet grass can damage the mower. It causes the mower to work harder than it’s intended to work, and parts can break or wear out.
But let’s say you have to mow your grass when it’s wet. Perhaps you’re having friends over for a cookout, and you’ve let your grass grow too long. Now you have to cut it. Today. Here are some tips to minimize damage to your grass and your mower.
1) Mow the grass 1/2″ to 1″ higher than normal, depending on the height of the grass. Wet grass is heavy. Cutting less grass will minimize the risk of damaging your mower.
2) Make sure the mower blades are sharp. Dull blades tend to damage grass. This invites disease to set in. Plus, dull blades cause the mower to work harder than with sharp blades.
3) Use the side discharge with wet grass rather than mulching or bagging, which will clog your mowing deck and cause your mower to strain when cutting wet grass.
4) Resist the urge to spray an oil or lubricant on your mower blade(s). Although it might be helpful for your mower, you don’t want to allow oil to get on your grass.
5) Mow more frequently. If you typically wait a week or more between cuttings, try mowing your grass every five days. The grass won’t get as high, and your mower won’t struggle to cut the grass when it’s wet.