Should you mow wet grass? Experts explain the best time to cut your grass for a healthy backyard

With lawn mowing season finally upon, follow these expert tips for a luscious lawn come summer

A small backyard with a bright green healthy lawn and a border of shrubs
(Image credit: Alamy)

Whether or not you should mow wet grass is one of the great debates among gardeners. You've probably heard your dad warn against mowing the lawn after a heavy rainfall and wondered what could possibly go so badly but, like most things in life, it turns out your parents know best.

Mowing the lawn when it's wet is one of those scenarios where just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should. There are a whole host of risks associated with cutting wet grass, from damaging the blades of your mower to impacting the health of the blades of grass themselves. For a green and luscious lawn this spring, you'll want to make sure it's dry before you cut it. 

With lawn mowing season finally upon us, make sure you start off on the right foot. To understand more about the risks involved with cutting wet grass and when the best time to mow the lawn actually is, we've spoken with some gardening experts who share everything you need to know for a healthy backyard

Should you mow wet grass? 

A close up shot of a dewy lawn

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As it turns out, that old wive's tale about mowing wet grass has some legitimacy to it. If it can be avoided you should never mow your lawn when it's wet, be that after a rainfall, watering with a sprinkler, or simply a glistening morning dew.  

'Mowing wet grass is not recommended for lawn health, equipment functionality, or operator safety,' says Stephen Webb, expert gardener at Gardens Whisper. 'Wet grass clumps together and easily gets clogged in your mower blades, slowing them down and making the engine work harder to turn them, which can cause damage to both your lawn and your mower.'

'The clippings from wet grass can also be expelled from your mower in large sections, where they then can actually smother your planted grass, causing patches of your lawn to die or dry up,' adds  Jeremy Yamaguchi, lawn expert and CEO of Lawn Love. If your lawn is prone to discolored or uneven patches that ruin your backyard landscaping, you might want to rule out the possibility that mowing the grass while it's still wet is the culprit. 

Besides those surface level problems, cutting wet grass will likely cause some issues deeper underground, too. 'Wet grass is more susceptible to rut damage since the soil is softer and more slippery for mowers,' Stephen explains. 'The blades can also  tear out the grassroots more easily, leading to a sparser looking lawn.' 

How long should you wait to mow grass after rain? 

modern backyard with lawn, gravel, planting and stone sculpture

(Image credit: Greg Thomas Photography/Eden Garden Design)

There's a high chance you're here because there was a heavy downfall of rain last night. You've got places to be later this morning, but you're also well aware that your lawn is overdue a trim. So, how long should you wait to mow the grass after it rains? 

'It's best to wait until the grass is completely dry before you mow,' says Lina Cowley, gardening expert and blogger at Trimmed Roots. 'After heavy rain, it can take up to 24 hours for the grass to dry out completely so you'll need to be patient.' The good news is, your grass isn't going to grow a noticeable amount in that time, so you can certainly spare another day.

Jeremy's advice follows the same lines. 'If it has rained, wait at least a day to mow,' he says. 'It’s also important to note that wet grass doesn’t just apply to post-rainfall either, it also includes early morning dew.' (Why not go a step further and give no mow May a go to attract more wildlife to your garden and give your grass a rest?)

What time of day should you mow your lawn? 

View of house exterior with raised front yard

(Image credit: Gavin Cater)

Mowing the lawn undoubtedly feels like a morning activity. It's often incorporated into our slow Sunday routine, ticked off the list early in the day then followed by a lazy afternoon on the lounger with a good book (weather permitting, of course). The problem is, mowing in the morning might now be such a good idea after all. 

'It's understandable to want to mow your lawn early in the morning in order to avoid the hot sun, however, since yards are often covered with dew in the early morning, I'd recommend avoiding it if possible,' says Jeremy. 

Instead, you should aim to mow your lawn late in the afternoon or early in the evening. 'Doing so will help to protect the grass from the heat of the day, and reduce the risk of damaging the grass due to direct sunlight,' Lina adds. 'Plus, mowing at this time can help to ensure that the mowing job is even and neat without the risk of wet grass clumping.' 

Lawn care in winter and summer both have different requirements, but there are some enduring lessons that will always remain, and avoiding cutting wet grass is one of them. For a luscious and healthy lawn all year round, always endeavor to mow the lawn on a dry afternoon or evening. We're sure your garden will thank you for it. 

Lawn care essentials 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.