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Why You Shouldn't Mow Your Lawn in the Rain (and What to do if You Have To)

by Brett Freeman, All About Lawns Columnist

Mowing your grass in the rain can be miserable for you, and it may not do your grass any favors, either. While some commercial mowers, with their balloon tires and super fast, super sharp blades can handle the task, most residential lawn mowers aren't up to it. At best, you may end up with a badly cut lawn. At worst, you can end up with ruts and dead patches that are a pain to repair.
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Wet Grass 101

There are numerous of reasons why rain gives grass the upper hand when you try to mow:

    Grass behaves like people when it's getting rained on: it hunches over. The result is that many blades of grass get pushed over, not cut, when you try to mow. At least until the sun comes up, when all of the uncut grass should once again stand at attention.
  • Some of the wet grass may stick to the mower blades, making it cut less efficiently;
  • Wet grass can stick also to the mower's undercarriage. Eventually it should get thick enough to impede the mower blades and slow their rotation, further diminishing the mower's cutting ability.
  • Most mowers have mulching blades that create suction. Cut grass gets sucked up and cut into tiny pieces when it's dry. But when it's wet, the grass clumps up and doesn't get mulched. If left in your yard, clumps of grass larger than the diameter of a tennis ball can weigh down and kill the grass underneath them in a matter of days, leaving you with dead patches.
  • If your grass has been saturated past its root depth, and if your mower wheels or shoes slide laterally, they can literally push the grass, roots and all, out of place, leaving ruts.
But if You Have to Mow in the Rain

If you can't avoid mowing in the rain, mow in passes less than half the width of the mower to minimize clumping and keep the blades turning fast. And as soon as your lawn dries out, go out with a blower and dislodge any clumps you couldn't avoid.

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About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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