We’ve all been there, the grass is getting wrong, but the British weather keeps letting you down. Rain, rain and more rain. The question will have no doubt cross your mind, can I just cut it anyway? Can you cut wet grass? Well, like most things in gardening the answer isn’t a simple yes or no, it more nuanced than that. So please read on to see my thoughts and advice on cutting wet grass.
Why people advise against cutting wet grass
The reason you are here is that you will have a nagging concern in the back of your mind that you just don’t cut wet grass. It is a cardinal gardening sin, but why does everyone say and think that you cannot cut wet grass?
This is one of the most common problems with cutting wet grass, and it’s easy to see why. Wet grass likes to stick together, this becomes a problem when mowing. If you are using a collection bag, then it may well clump together in the entryway, blocking your mower up. Meaning your fresh clippings will never make it to the bag and instead be left on your lawn. This can cause issues down the line where the grass is prevented from getting enough light, and dead patches start to creep in.
The mower sinks into the lawn
Mowers can be a hefty bit of kit, and if it’s been raining on and off for a while, your lawn will most likely be very soft. Running a heavy mower over a soft lawn is a recipe for disaster, particularly if your mower has rear wheels rather than a powered roller.
A self-propelled mower will definitely dig up a soft wet lawn. The driven wheels will sink in, spin up and generally make a real mess of the lawn. This is a crucial reason why you should avoid mowing wet grass if possible.
The risk to the mower sinking is easily mitigated by a range of factors. Obviously, a lightweight Flymo hovering above the surface of the turf on a cushion of air is not going to sink. However, a massive four-wheeled self-propelled petrol mower is guaranteed to sink in.
Also, wet grass doesn’t automatically mean the ground will be soft and soggy. It could just have been a brief shower, and the soil underneath the surface could still be hard and solid. These are essential things to consider when planning on cutting wet grass. What is the ground condition, and just how long has it been raining?
This may never have crossed your mind, but is another reason you should be wary when cutting wet grass. Grass is very slippery when wet, couple that with operating a piece of machinery that features a high speed rotating blade and you can see the issue. This is more of a problem if your lawn is sloped, so please bear that in mind.
When to cut a wet lawn
So you’ve read my above concerns but still want to cut your wet grass. That’s fine, I’ve cut many wet lawns in my time, and it never caused an issue. You need to make the conditions as optimal as possible and ensure you do it safely.
If there has only been light rainfall over the last few weeks, then you will be able to cut wet grass without much concern. The soil should still be firm, so the mower sinking in shouldn’t be an issue. If however, you do start to cut and find that your mower is sinking then you can also stop the cut and come back at a more opportune time. Just because you have started doesn’t mean you need to finish the job right now, particularly at the cost of your hard-won pristine lawn!
It is also important to make sure you have the best lawnmower for the job, check out our guide to the best petrol lawn mowers!
How to cut a wet lawn
Raise the cutting height
It is always advisable to raise the cutting height of your mower before embarking on a wet lawn cut. Even if this is just one step higher than usual, it will help reduce the clumping problem.
Clean up grass clumps
After mowing, you must clean up and remove any grass clumps. These clumps are both unsightly and damaging to the overall health of your lawn. They will block out the sunlight from the healthy grass below, leading to dead patches in your grass. As these patches die out, the grass stops protecting the soil below. The earth is then washed away, the end result being a patchy, lumpy lawn.
A rake will do the job here, rake up all the grass cuttings and throw them on the compost heap. Make sure you are not overly vigorous with the rake as this too could damage your lawn.
Take it slow
Don’t try and do too much and once, just take it nice and easy and enjoy being outdoors, even if it is raining.
That’s all there is so to it. Just follow these steps, and you can cut wet grass safely and easily.