How Early Can I Mow My Lawn?

By Donna Dolinar, Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardener since 2006

People often wonder how early can you mow the lawn and if it is different on weekends rather than weekdays.

Dangerous When Wet

First, it is best to wait until there is no dew left on the grass before you begin to mow. The same goes for rain. There are some solid reasons for this.

  • If the blades of grass are wet, they will bend down and be more difficult to cut. So, you will use all that effort to mow and still not have a good cut.
  • You can slip on wet grass, either walking or a riding mower on an incline. Having a several hundred pound riding mower slide around or flip over is not a good idea.
  • Wet clippings will clump and leave a mess on the lawn. If you think you will avoid this by using a bagger, think about how wet and heavy that bag will be when you dump it.
  • Those wet pieces of grass will also accumulate on the underside of your mower. Dampness will invite mold. Even if you don’t get mold, that accumulation can impede the action of the blades as well as cause early rusting to the underside of the mower.
  • Freshly cut grass is more vulnerable to diseases and if it is wet, you are only increasing your chances of having to deal with a serious situation. This can include fungus known as black spot.
  • The wheels of the mower will sink down creating ruts in the yard.

There may be times when you just can’t wait for the yard to dry. If the choice is between cutting wet or letting the grass get too tall, then mow. On the other side, if you are in drought conditions, or even extended periods without rain, avoid mowing because it will only add stress to an already overwrought turf.

Follow the Law

Second, check for any laws or regulations. Some municipalities have noise restrictions and that can include mowing. Also, if you are part of a home owners’ association, check those bylaws to see if they specify the hours for mowing.

Realize that this includes other lawn-related noise makers like edgers (also known a weed whackers and line trimmers), leaf blowers, and tillers.

Be Courteous

Third, it is always a good idea to stay at least moderately cordial with your neighbors. That includes loud noises (like mowing) before breakfast or after dinner hours. A good rule of thumb is not before 9:00 a.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. on weekends and after 6:00 p.m. any evening.

Noiseless Mowing

Obviously all the furor is over the noise. If you opt for a battery-powered lawn mower, you have greatly reduced the sound level and less likely to rile your neighbors.

Order of Things

Just a brief note about the order in which you should use these motorized monsters.

  • Line trimmer – Especially if you are dealing with longish grass near the house or fencing, this should be your first tool. In this way you will be able to use your mower to chew up the residue and the final look of your landscape will be neater.
  • Mower – Next run your mower.
    o Side discharge mowers will shoot out long cuttings and can accumulate into unsightly rows. Even if the grass is short enough to avoid this look, the longer cut blades will take longer to break down and can cause excess thatch.
    – Bagging mowers won’t leave anything behind. However, if you use fertilizers on your lawn, all of the nutrients that are stored in those clippings will be lost.
    – Mulchers cut the turf into fine pieces that are dropped. These leavings will turn into organic matter and help nourish the soil and plant life.
  • Leaf blower – Use your blower to clear out all the excess between the edge of the lawn and sidewalks or driveways. This will leave a nice, finished look to your lawn. Don’t just blow those clippings into the street though. Blow them into a pile and dispose of it in your compost pile.

Regular lawn maintenance adds to the value of your property and the neighborhood. Using appropriate yard etiquette will help develop friendships and make your property the envy of anyone that passes by.