UMass Extension Turf Program

Mowing in Wet Weather

Terms: 
Date: 
May 11, 2012
Subject: 
Mowing in Wet Weather
Category: 

This has been a great week to check if rain sensors on irrigation systems are working properly.

A lot of mowing in the rain has also been observed this week.  This is not surprising, as we are experiencing great grass-growing weather at the current time.

Cippings clumped on a lawnMowing when the turf surface and the soil are wet has several drawbacks. Mulching and discharge features on mowers usually do not work effectively, and clippings often clump unattractively.  The negative effects of less-than-sharp blades or out-of-adjustment mowing decks are magnified. The potential for soil compaction and wear injury to the turf are increased, especially when turning equipment.  The slick surface can result in slips and falls while walk-mowing, or even loss of control while riding, especially on slopes.

The message, therefore, is that mowing during wet conditions should be avoided whenever possible.  Realistically, however, this is not always feasible.  There are schedules to keep, deadlines to meet, and you can only bend the “1/3 Rule” so far before you end up with bigger problems.

The best advice involves common sense.  Take it slow, make sure your blades are sharp and that cutting height is properly adjusted. Overlap your passes a little more than usual to account for increased chance of skips and misses. Avoid turning equipment on the turf surface when at all possible. If clumps of clippings are unacceptable, we won’t hold it against you if you bag a time or two, but those soggy clippings are harder to handle. Wear sturdy footwear with good traction while walk-mowing. Exercise extreme caution or avoid mowing significant slopes when wet, especially with riding equipment. If you opt to wait out the wet weather and the height of the turf becomes excessive, bring it down gradually over a few mowing events rather than all at one time.

Submitted by: Jason Lanier

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Archived Turf Management Updates contain information that is presented as it originally appeared, in an effort to preserve useful information and to illustrate changing management techniques and pest patterns over time. Some text may contain references to specific pesticide or fertilizer products. Due to the continually changing nature of the industry and pesticide regulations, some messages may contain references to products that are no longer available and/or are no longer registered for use.
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