Can a Lawn Mower Cut Wet Grass? – Potential Risks Explained

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There are a lot of do’s and don’ts to lawn mowers.

You have probably heard people say that you should never cut wet grass with your lawn mower.

Recently, it so happened that the only day I was able to cut my lawn was after a very heavy overnight rain. And I wasn’t too sure if I can or even should try cutting wet grass.

So I did a little digging around in order to find out what is the best course of action.

And if you live in a place where there is a lot of precipitation, you may have wondered the same question.

Can a lawn mower cut wet grass? Lawn mowers can cut wet grass; however, this is not recommended. Cutting wet grass places more stress on the lawn mower, creates uneven cuts, and can even introduce disease to the grass. It is recommended to wait until the grass is dry before cutting it.

Now that you know the basics, I will continue expanding more on that knowledge.

Read on if you are interested in finding out more about what you need to do if your grass is wet and how wet is actually too wet for your lawn mower.

Why You Should Not Cut Wet Grass

First, let me give you the potential risks of mowing wet grass.

Knowing and understanding these is going to give you the insight necessary to keep both your lawn and mower in perfect condition.

Potential Mower Damage

One of the first things that you need to consider is that if you are going to cut wet grass – especially tall wet grass – you may end up causing your lawn mower a lot of strain, and it can even overheat.

Conversely, if you are using a very powerful lawn mower, you may be able to get away with cutting wet grass.

But things don’t stop here. The wetter the grass – the higher the chance of dulling the mower’s cutting blades.

This may not necessarily damage your lawn mower, but it will make cutting the grass harder, and the quality of the cut will be worse.

Additionally, you may have to sharpen the blades more often than what has been recommended in the user’s manual.

Poor Mulch Quality

Many gardeners like to use the grass as mulch. However, wet grass may prove difficult or entirely unsuitable for proper mulching.

Don’t get me wrong it will still decay – and at even faster rates, probably – but the problem is that the wet blades of grass will lump together in big patches of cut grass.

These will not spread out evenly across your lawn, even if you try raking them later.

So if you are using your grass as a mulch, you should probably wait until the grass has dried a bit.

Potential Soil Damage

One of the best ways to create ruts in your lawn is by using your lawn mower for cutting wet grass.

And here’s why this happens.

The damp soil will be a lot softer, and this creates a severe risk of rut damage, especially with heavier lawn mowers.

Alternatively, a lighter lawn mower may be used for cutting wet grass while at the same time reducing the risk of creating ruts in the soil.

However, the lawn mower is not the only thing that can damage your soil. Even your walking on very damp and muddy soil can create tiny depressions in the soil, making it uneven and potentially damaging the lawn.

Uneven cuts

Wet grass tends to bend over. What you will encounter on closer inspection is that some blades may be in the upright position while other (usually the taller ones) have bent down.

And if you try mowing your lawn like this, you will end up with very uneven cuts as some of the bent-over blades will pass under the cutting blades.

And last but not least, cutting wet grass usually makes the cuttings less clean. Or in other words, the blades may end up cutting different lengths of the grass, which can even spread disease into the lawn.

Hidden Dangers

The last reason I would not advise on mowing a wet lawn is simply the fact that there are a lot more health hazards at hand.

There is a high risk of slipping and falling while walking on the wet and slippery grass, so it’s better to leave cutting to a later time.

How Soon Can You Cut Wet Grass?

Ideally, you don’t want to cut your grass wet. But say you are in the same situation I was in – The ground and the grass is wet, but you don’t have time – so how soon can you cut grass after it rains?

This is a hard question to answer with specific numbers. The time needed will vary greatly due to factors like:

  • For how long and how much has it been raining?
  • How tall is the grass?
  • What is the temperature of the air and soil?
  • What are the overall atmospheric and weather conditions?

These all are going to be very time and place dependent. And the time you’ll have to wait before cutting wet grass can vary from a few hours to several days. Generally speaking, you can test the waters (pun intended) by taking a walk on your lawn.

The best-case scenario is to have your shoes remain dry after walking through the lawn. If that is the case – then you have a green light.

But we all know that the conditions are not going to always be ideal. So here are a few more tips for judging when the grass is too wet for mowing:

  • The soil should be relatively dry and not muddy, soft, or with puddles of water. When you step on the soil, it should not give in under your weight more than what is normal.
  • The blades of grass should be in an upright position, and there should not be bent over blades that are super low to the ground.
  • Last but not least, if you are still not too sure, try mowing a small row and inspect the grass, the soil, and the lawn mower. If the grass cuts are uneven, if there are signs of ruts, or if the lawn mower gets clogged up with grass, leave the mowing for later.

How to Cut Wet Grass with a Lawn Mower?

There will be times when you won’t have a say in the matter, and you will have to mow the lawn while it is still wet.

Your lawn mower is not going to explode or break down immediately just because you are mowing wet grass.

You should be well aware of the risks and dangers of wet grass by now, so you can mow it if you absolutely must. The only exception is when it has been raining cats and dogs, and the soil is so soggy and saturated that there are puddles of water, and when you step on it, you start to sink in.

You shouldn’t even attempt mowing your lawn in conditions like this

If that is the case, you should not mow the grass regardless of what the reason for mowing might be. But let’s say the conditions are not that bad – the grass is wet but not too much. Here are a few pointers about what is recommended in this case:

  • Make sure that the mower’s cutting blade(s) are sharpened;
  • Raise the blades and mow at a higher level than what you would typically use. Try to cut about half the length of grass you would normally do. That way you can reduce the stress placed on the mower;
  • Mow at a slower pace and try overlapping about 50% of the stripes in order to reduce clogging and the load on the lawn mower.
  • Attach the bag so that you can catch the clippings inside and empty it more frequently as it will get heavy a lot faster.
  • Try to keep your distance from any sidewalks and driveways as the wet grass may end up staining them.
  • Make sure to clean the underside of the deck. Cutting wet grass is a messy business, and you will probably have to do some extra maintenance and cleaning afterward.

A word of caution here: Don’t use an electric lawn mower for cutting wet grass as this can be dangerous due to the possibility of water getting into the extension cord.

Can You Cut Grass with Morning Dew On It?

Ideally, you want to wait until the morning dew evaporates and gets off your grass. This is why you probably shouldn’t mow your lawn too early in the morning.

However, if you really have to cut your grass while it is wet with morning dew, there is a neat little trick that you can do to speed up the drying process and make mowing a lot easier.

You’ll need a long piece of hose that you can drag over the lawn. That way, the dew will fall down on the ground, which will absorb it. This will make the grass less wet and speed up the drying process.

 

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!