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Mowing Wet Grass - Not the Best Option!

June 10, 2013
by Charles Peacock

A man on a lawnmower mowing a yard

NC has been drenched the past week due to Tropical Storm Andrea and showers over the past few days. Mowing wet grass is not the best option... for a number of reasons:

  • If the grass is too long to mow into small pieces, it will leave wet clumps that can block sunlight from the turf and result in die-back underneath leaving bare spots in the turf.
  • It is an ideal situation for disease to start that can spread to areas outside the clumps.
  • The soil is at an ideal water content for compaction to occur due to traffic from the mowing equipment.

For the best results use the following guidelines if possible to mow during this wet period:

  • Wait at least 24 hours after the last rainfall before mowing.
  • Raise the mowing height to the upper end of the suggested range and try to remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blades at any one mowing. If necessary, wait a few days, lower the mowing height and mow again.
  • Where the soil is extremely wet or poorly drained, avoid these areas instead of compacting the soil or worse, leaving ruts or scars in the turf which will not recover until fall if it is tall fescue or other cool-season grass.

Remember, while temperatures are good for turf growth, reduced sunlight levels due to cloud cover mean the turf growth is reduced so mowing frequency may not be as much of an issue.

Dr. Charles H. Peacock
Professor and Extension Turf Specialist
NC State University