After more than two weeks of rain, our lawns are in desperate need of a good trim.
Lawn services have struggled to keep their mowing schedules during the endless set of rainy days while many home owners have been patiently waiting for a sunny day to start their mowers. Meanwhile, grass has grown tall and stayed wet.
I interviewed Sean McGuire of Davey Lawn Care Services to learn how the pros deal with waterlogged lawns.
Is it okay to mow wet grass?
It’s always best to let the grass dry before mowing it. When mowing grass, however, keep in mind that only a third or less of the grass blades should be cut. If the grass stays wet for long periods of time and continues to grow, it’s OK to mow the wet grass to keep it from growing too tall and going to seed. The best time to mow wet grass is determined by the level of saturation. Less saturation is better, of course.
How do you mow wet grass?
Sharp blades are key. We raise our mower decks up to 3.5 inches above the ground and we sharpen the blades after every day of mowing. We sometimes mow yards twice to break up the wet clumps of grass clippings.
We do full stripe mowing, not half stripe mowing, because we will do a second mow if necessary. Half stripe mowing is overlapping the previously mowed stripe by 50 percent to reduce the amount of grass cut in a single pass. It’s sometimes done when mowing wet grass to keep mowers from getting clogged or choked with wet grass clippings.
Only in extreme cases do we rake and bag the wet clippings. It’s best to leave the clippings in place to feed the turf.
Are commercial grade lawn mowers better for mowing wet grass than consumer mowers?
We use both commercial grade and consumer grade mowers on the job, but we keep the blades sharp on all of our lawn mowers. In addition, our mowers have gator blades with serrated tips that do a good job of breaking up wet grass clumps. Both types of mowers work.
What about muddy wheel ruts while mowing wet yards?
Unfortunately, there is no avoiding wheel ruts while mowing wet yards. Wheel ruts happen when the ground is very wet.
Do you have advice for homeowners with soggy lawns?
Watch for fungus. It’s common with extended periods of wet weather. Fungus shows up as brown patches in your yard. Fungicides work but dry weather is best. Also, turn off your irrigation (sprinkler) systems, or keep their rain gauges working properly during rainy periods to avoid watering an already wet yard.
Have you been backlogged with work because of the rain?
Yes, a little, but mostly our nine-hour working days have turned into 12-hour days trying to keep up with the wet yards. We’re catching up.
The weather forecast is improving for dry weather this weekend, which will give us a better opportunity to mow the grass. Our yards should dry out soon.
More links with tips for mowing wet grass: