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

By Bernie Granzow, BP Landscape Services | August 2, 2016

Gardener in the park on a lawn cutting tractor machine

Summer has been quite soggy in the DMV area. This can spell trouble for lawns and lawn equipment.

We do not advise that mowing wet grass is a good idea, but with the recent rain, you may not have much choice.

Having a well-kept, short lawn and occasionally mowing wet grass is better than allowing your lawn to go to seed and become unruly while waiting for the rain to stop.

Sharp mower blades, mowing height, cutting speed, and clipping disposal are all important factors when cutting a damp lawn.

Here are some tips for mowing wet grass:

  1. Mow with A Sharp, High Blade
    Regardless of the weather, it’s always important to mow with a sharp blade. That being said, this is even more essential when a lawn is damp, and grass is long, and growing rapidly.

    When lawn mower blades are not sharp, they can push grass over, rather than cut it, leaving a lawn uneven. Softer, wetter grass requires a very sharp blade for a clean cut. It is also important to set mower blades as high as possible when a lawn is damp to avoid scalping or further damaging the grass.

  2. Mow More Often
    An obvious result of more rain, is grass that grows faster. This means it also needs to be mowed more frequently. We suggest that grass should be mowed when it is 50% higher than its ideal height, meaning only one-third of its height is cut.

    With more rainfall, a lawn that normally reaches cutting height after about a week, may reach it in only a few days. We recommend mowing again later in the day or the next day to help break up any grass clumps and allow you to reduce the grass height a little more.

  3. Cut Slowly – From the Perimeter, Inward
    Keeping grass clippings off the part of the lawn that has not yet been mowed is critical when mowing a damp lawn.

    First mow the outer perimeter of the lawn, and then continue around, moving inward by a half row each pass. By doing this, the lawn mower will not pass over any dropped clumps, and they can be picked up afterward.

    We recommend using the side discharge on the mower, if possible and running the mower blade at a slower speed to reduce the strain on it.

  4. Bag or Rake Up Clippings
    Bagging clippings when lawns are heavy and damp, whether from growth or recent rain, is important, since wet clippings and clumps laying on the lawn can kill the grass underneath.

    Unfortunately, the damper grass is, the greater the chance it will plug up lawn mower bags, leaving clippings behind rather than collecting them. For better lawn maintenance, it may be easier to mow without the bag, and rake the clippings.

  5. Keep Underside of Mower Clear
    Along with the clippings bag, wet, heavy lawns will also collect grass on the underside of the mower deck, preventing clean cutting and dropping large clumps along the way.

    We recommend stopping the lawn mower every few passes, turn it off, and clear all clippings out from under the mower deck; around the blade; and from the discharge vent, to prevent uneven cutting.

    After mowing is complete, it is important to clean under the mower deck before any stuck clippings dry, because these heavier, wetter clippings will stick and become hard to remove later.

WARNING: If the blades become clogged, let the mower die before you clean off the blades. NEVER clean a mower that is still running.