Can I cut wet grass — and how do I know if my grass is too wet?

Sprinklers watering a grass lawn
Mowing a wet lawn is not a good idea - for the most part (Image credit: Getty)

The question ‘can I cut wet grass?’ is one that goes through the minds of most householders thanks to the wildly varying whims of British weather.

It doesn’t matter how slick your garden design is, you can potentially risk ruining your lawn by mowing before it is dry enough — even when using one of the best petrol lawn mowers. That's why we have put together this expert guide on whether to mow wet grass, how to tell if grass is too wet and the optimum time of day to mow.

To answer these questions we asked for advice from a trio of top lawn experts.

Can I cut wet grass?

Whether to cut wet grass or not very much depends on how wet it is, says David Hedges Gower, Chairman of the Lawn Association. If the ground is soaking after heavy rain the answer is a definite no because it can be damaging for your lawn and your mower and leave it looking worse than before you started.

Guy Jenkins at Johnsons Lawn Seed Grass blades need to stand upright in order to be ready to mow, and the weight of the water can flatten them, which means uneven mowing and can leave your lawn vulnerable to pests and diseases.

The Grass People’s Chris McIlroy says if the grass is just damp or dewy it is probably okay, although he adds: "It is best to give your grass time to dry off during the day and then cut it later in the afternoon".

You may be worried about damaging your mower but in truth, lots of lawnmowers are robust enough to cope with a dewy lawn in your garden design just fine. Guy advises gardeners to bear in mind waterlogged grass is more difficult to cut, which can strain lawnmowers and cause them to overheat, while wet grass is more prone to clumping and clogging up the mower.

Another reason you want to avoid mowing after a rainy spell is to reduce the threat of soil compaction. David Truby, the MD of Greensleeves, said: "Soil compaction reduces your lawn’s ability to absorb moisture, which leads to water pooling around the topsoil – seriously damaging the lawn."

How do I know if my grass is too wet?

A rule of thumb is to walk across the grass and if your shoes are wet, it is best to wait. And if the ground and soil are saturated with moisture, again it is best to wait. 

But don't immediately write it off though. David Hedges Gower says: "Mowing is similar to shaving your face or legs because the wetness isn’t a problem if the blades are sharp. Therefore, as long as you mow with a sharp blade – sharpened every 1-2 weeks – then some dew won’t be a problem as long as the grass blades are too weighed down with it."

A related issue that can affect your lawn is moss and we have a handy guide on how to get rid of moss in lawns if this is relevant to your garden.

When is the best time of day to mow my lawn?

David Truby says that cutting your grass at the right time is a significant part of helping your lawn thrive. As the weather slowly gets warmer, he recommends cutting the grass in the morning or evening when the temperatures are cooler.

He adds: "When you mow during these cooler times, your grass will be less likely to wilt and can recover more quickly.

"By cutting your grass at the right time, you can ensure that your lawn looks its best and is healthier overall."

On a related note, it’s probably a good idea to use our guide on when should I stop cutting my grass for great advice on overall lawn maintenance.

How do I keep my wet grass from sticking to my lawn mower?

Even with the best cordless lawn mowers, it is highly recommended that you clean your lawn mower after each mowing session, in order to prevent the undercarriage from becoming clogged with grass cuttings and other debris.

This can lead to decreased performance as well as the potential spread of lawn diseases. We advise using a wire brush or a damp cloth to remove any debris that has attached itself to the mower's deck

If grass is quickly building up in the deck of your mower, and this is a frequent problem, then you are probably mowing when it is too wet and you need to wait for your lawn to dry more before mowing.

You can also spray the deck with a silicone lubricant, such as AGEALUBE Protect Wax Spray. Products like these claim to help prevent grass from building up on the underside as the grass does not adhere readily to the wax.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.