Mowing Grass in the Rain 13 Easy Tips
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Why a lawn mowing business is NOT a shop
With a shop, if you have to shut the doors for a day, it will affect your income but not your workload. You will not have literally twice the amount of customers the next day. With a lawn care business, you actually do.
If you cannot work on a particular day, you will have twice the amount of work to do the following day. You can get rained off (unlike a cleaning business for example) this makes your business unique, and that is not always a good thing.
Sure it’s better for the turnover but it comes at a cost. Your business needs to be flexible enough to handle the ebbs and flows of the weather and having to mow wet grass is one of those things that we will need to manage.
How we deal with mowing grass in the rain.
You are getting ready for another day of mowing lawns, and you look out the window and it’s raining.
You now have a choice.
- Do you go out and cut wet grass in the rain today?
- Or do you do something else in the workshop?
- Perhaps take the day off. (a slippery slope) no pun intended.
The option you choose is going to depend on what kind of schedule you run and whether you have any time available to catch up. This article is going to cover working with smaller mowers on residential lawns which is my area of expertise.
There are three ways of scheduling to help you avoid having to work on days like this and I will run through them here first. These are all good strategies that I know will work if you are running between 1 to 5 vehicles in your lawn care business.
Always have Saturday available as your backup day – This is a good option. You will need to have something mentioned about it in your employment agreement. We usually write into our contracts that if the guys are rained off during the week and have not completed their 40 hours, then they need to be available on a Saturday if needed.
There are a couple of downsides to this.
- Some of your workers may play sports or have other commitments on a Saturday so they may be unavailable.
- The other issue is your customer may not appreciate you turning up on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of a BBQ to mow their lawn.
Work 10-hour days Mon to Thursday and keep Fridays available – This could be a slightly better plan if you’re like me and don’t like working at the Weekends.
There are definitely some upsides to this.
- You can keep Fridays available for Tree work or gardens and roster the guys for overtime.
- If you are rained off, you now have a Friday available. The kind of work you would have booked for this day can be moved on without too many issues.
- You will be doing high-paying work on these days so you will be able to afford it.
- You will be the most popular lawn care owner in town because your guys will have either three-day weekends or high pay packets.
In Winter when the days get shorter the grass is growing less and you can get through your work a little bit quicker so this normally works out.
The downside is
- A 10-hour workday in the lawn care industry can be hard on everyone.
- Some of our top customers have requested a Friday mow, so the lawn looks good for the weekend. They will have to compromise.
Run your business at 80% capacity – This is the option we eventually settled on. When I employed people, I put them on a 35-hour workweek, and overtime started if they were required to work over 40 hours.
They began at 7.30 am and were back by 2-2.30 pm. We also had the Saturday work agreement but we hardly ever used it. When your guys are getting in around 2 p.m., it is effortless to keep on top of the workload if it rains or if someone doesn’t turn up.
Is there something else you can do?
If you are a sole proprietorship and you are not running a huge amount of lawns it may not be that much of an issue. Your rainy day list could involve things like.
- Do maintenance or take gear in to get fixed.
- Having a general cleanup.
- Catching up with your paperwork.
- Working on your website or marketing materials.
There are 101 things that you are going to be doing after-hours anyway so you can simply swap your time around.
What can your crew do?
However, if you run a crew you have to think about them and what they can do. Your options can be to send them out to mow in the rain or give them the day off. We have a rule that everyone turns up at 7:30 a.m. regardless of the weather (if there is a real storm we will text them by 6:30 a.m. to let them know not to come in). If the rain is not too heavy the guys will go out as usual, but we have a policy about rainy days.
If they worked in the rain for more than four hours and the rain doesn’t stop, then they can come back to the yard and go home. The time they didn’t work will have to be made up later in the week. It hardly ever rained for a full day and if it did then over half a day had already been done, so our catch-up time was minimal. We didn’t make a mess with the wet grass clippings or grass stains as I had taught the guys how to do it properly and leave it tidy.
I am going to go through these with you now.
13 tips to help you work in the rain.
1. Use a bar blade with a lift fin
You preferably want a bit of lift on the ends of your blade to throw wet grass into the catcher or mulch it a bit better. There are three different kinds of lift blades — high or low lift bar blades and flower blades.
The blades below are mulch bar blades which I find to be the best blades to use to mow a wet lawn.
Then you have the straight bar blade. These blades will only work if the grass is dry.
I found swing blades are not the best mower blade to cut grass when it is wet.
2. Make sure your blades are sharp
You need to use sharp blades on wet days. I usually sharpen my blades every 33 mower hours anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a quick sharpening before mowing after rain. The shaper the blade the easier it is to remove grass.
3. Raise your blade
Cut a bit higher than usual. Cutting high will improve the look of the job. You can always take the height down again on the next visit when it’s time to cut the grass.
4. Go slower than usual
Sometimes you are going to need to do this. If you are travelling slower with the mower, the engine will not have to work so hard, and it will throw grass into your catcher more easily. It will also help you avoid an uneven cut. You can speed up in areas where the going is a bit easier.
If you step on the grass and the water comes up around your boot it’s too wet – It is going to clog your mower and you are going to leave trails. Areas like this are not that common, but if over 50% of the lawn is like this, it may be best to leave it. Now if the customer doesn’t mind wheel marks you could go ahead and mow it high. The wheel marks will disappear over the next week or so.
5. Use a string trimmer on smaller flooded areas
If there is a small area that is underwater and cannot be cut with a lawnmower, then a line trimmer is a good option. A line trimmer is a better choice than leaving the area uncut. You do need to be careful of where you stand when you do this as you will leave footprints so try to keep your foot movement to a minimum.
6. Use a hover mower
This works better when you are a solo operator. When I mowed lawns from 1987-1999, I was living in a coastal town on a peninsula.
It was wet a lot, and all the lawn care guys had petrol Flymo’s as well as regular lawn mowers. Using a Flymo worked well and enabled us to work on wet lawns or rainy days without any significant issues. One thing that we had to watch out for was our footsteps which could leave muddy footprints.
My old machines are long gone so I had a search around online for petrol-powered Flymo’s and I was unable to find any. Possibly they are not making them any more. The only option I could find was a Toro HoverPro but these do seem to be quite pricey. I think I used to pay around $600 for a petrol Flymo.
The secret there was to minimise your steps which I’m glad to say does become easier with practice. Hover mowers are mulch mowers only so if you need to catch you are out of luck there. I normally get a couple of seasons out of a Flymo but this machine seems a bit more durable. i used my machine in both light rain and heavy rain.
Now having run a lawn mowing business in Hamilton since 2000 I have not had that issue, so I have not bought a Hover mower since then.
7. Keep the chute clean
A clean chute makes for a clean job. Wet grass tends to clog your chute first. Every time you empty the catcher, turn the mower off (wait for the blade to stop moving) and clean out the chute. Sometimes, if there isn’t too much of a build-up, you can clean the chute after every job instead.
Do keep an eye on the chute and don’t let the wet clippings clog up the chute completely as I have found that once this happens the chute is a lot harder to keep clean for the rest of the day.
Clean the clumps of wet grass from under the mower – Flip and clean under the mower. If you are running a four-stroke mower (and most of us are) then never tip the mower on its side. The spark plug needs to point towards the sky when cleaning under the mower deck.
When I am catching, I usually push the mower handle to the ground and weigh it down with a half-full catcher. Doing this gives me easy access to the underneath of the mower where the wet grass tends to clump. I prefer to wear gloves when cleaning under a mower but that is not necessary.
8. Only mow your regular lawns
Do not attack any overgrown lawns on a rainy day. You will just find yourself working harder and making a big mess. It’s ok to mow lawns that are regular bookings but I would stay away from doing any one-off or overgrown jobs.
9. Try short wet-weather pants.
Sounds silly but I find I can work harder for longer if I just wear a rain jacket and shorts. Rain pants can be a real pain, and I have yet to find a pair that I don’t overheat in.
The other option of jeans and a rain jacket is even worse. It is incredibly uncomfortable, and you really can feel it dragging on you by the end of the day.
Lately, I have been taking a pair of wet-weather pants and cutting them into shorts. Or I guess you could just get a pair on Amazon This works really well if you’re wearing shorts anyway and it takes a lot longer before you begin to overheat. You do get that with shorts.
I should also mention that I wear waterproof sock protectors, so my socks don’t get wet.
Nothing worse than wet feet.
10. Have two raincoats and rotate them
I actually have a coat hanger in my van where I hang one jacket out to dry while I wear the other one. After a few lawns, I rotate them. If there is a dry spell, I hang it to dry on my side mirror to dry a bit while I mow a lawn.
11. Start your mower on the grass
Do not start your lawn mower on concrete. That is a terrible idea as it can leave a nasty green ring on a piece of white concrete. These do not wash off easily and can take a few days to disappear — every time your customers see that green ring they will wonder why you were cutting grass in the rain.
Remember to turn your mower off before running over a path or driveway as grass clippings can also stain the paths. If you have a path separating two pieces of lawn, then do not mow across it every time you pass. Mow one side of the path and then the other. It looks much better than a path with a whole lot of green stripes.
12. Lift the mower and travel on the back (or front) wheels when moving on paths and driveways
If your back wheels are a mess and your front wheels look clean (or vice versa) then turn off the mower and lift the back wheels off the ground before heading back to your vehicle. This will prevent you from leaving those horrible green wheel marks across your customer’s paths and driveway.
13. Tap your catcher regularly when you use your mower on wet grass.
When you have finished tap the catcher, so the grass drops back into the catcher instead of falling out in clumps as you push your lawnmower back to your vehicle.
Hopefully, after reading this you will manage a bit better if you have to work in the rain.
Should I wait until the grass is dry before mowing?
You can wait until the grass is dry before mowing however this will cause you to run behind. Dry grass is easier to cut and results in a cleaner, more even appearance. It also reduces the risk of damaging the grass or your mower.
Is there a specific time to mow your lawn in the morning?
There isn’t a specific time to cut grass in the morning, as it depends on your personal preference and the climate in your area. However, it is generally recommended to mow the lawn after the morning dew has evaporated and the grass is dry.
Is it safe to use an electric mower on wet grass?
No, it is not safe to use an electric mower on wet grass. Wet conditions increase the risk of electric shock. It’s best to wait until the grass is dry before using an electric mower.
Summing up this post
So, to sum up this post, if you’ve got a yard with damp grass, you must mow it carefully. The thing is, when the grass is wet, it can be a real pain to cut. Wet grass can clog up your mower and leave clumps of grass everywhere. if your grass is wet or even slightly wet you will need to have a plan of attack worked out in advance.
Lastly, one thing that I would definitely recommend and it will make your work life a bit better is to put on a good audiobook while you work. These are great because while you are working with your wet weather gear on while listening to a good story, it’s like you are somewhere else. I use Scribd for this, the a less the half the price of Amazon and you get unlimited audiobooks. Go here for a free two-month trial.
As I finish writing this my German Shepherd is looking at me waiting for his walk and ironically, it’s raining.
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