So, I picked up a reel mower, and thinking about cutting wet grass with it. When I think about the reasons why I couldn't cut wet grass with a power mower, none of them seemed to apply (There is no deck for wet grass to clump up on a reel mower, and gas mowers push clippings through a hole that is a fraction of the size of the total cutting area of the mower, which is not the case with reel mowers).

So, I probably won't be mowing during any downpours, but can I get away with cutting wetter grass with a reel mower than I could with a power mower?

3 Answers 3


Working in Landscape Maintenance in the Northwest US with lots and lots of rain, well, rain and wet couldn't come between my crews and their routes. We used hydro static gas mowers for traction more than anything. Mowers that aren't hydro static will spin their wheels and dig up/ruin the grass. A reel mower would be less intrusive to the environment being light and propelled by human feet. If the grass is not too long, the soil not so mushy that you leave deep imprints and most importantly the blades are super sharp there should be no problem mowing in the rain. Another rule to always be using is to change your pattern of mowing EVERY SINGLE TIME you mow!!! Otherwise, mowing in wet conditions will quickly make grooves that are not condusive for a healthy, even lawn. Mow a different pattern each time you mow even in great, dry weather. Try using an angle versus parallel to the house or walk! A continuous circle, a diagonal! I'd easily take a day off mowing if I was not committed to a route. Always mow once or more per week. Especially with a reel mower that doesn't bag clippings. The more often you mow the less you have to remove from the top of your lawn and the finer cut will be your clippings. Finer chopped clippings will decompose quickly. I would fertilize with fertilizer that incorporates bacteria necessary for decomposing these clippings. Dr. Earth Lawn Fertilizer is one example. Also, make SURE you aerate with an aerator that pulls 2-3" plugs out of the lawn. Leave the plugs where they are!! They decompose/break up quickly and help to include soil, bacteria, organic matter to the top of the lawn and thatch beginnings.

Keep your grass height NO SHORTER THAN 3". Grass growth slows down at this height and will be more erect/stiffened than new and faster growth from mowing too short. You'll take of less. Weed seeds won't be able to get enough sun to germinate. Less water will evaporate. Most importantly 'cool season' grasses NEED to have at least 3" of topgrowth to FEED its roots by photosynthesis. Fertilizer IS NOT FOOD. Plants make their own food and if you want healthy grass you've got to hold to the 3" minimum!

I have also on super wet days used my gas blower to 'stand' the grass blades up by blowing off the excess water holding the blades down below the blades of my mower. Or after I mow the first pass, then I used the blower and that would pop up the 'MOHAWKS' of grass that didn't get cut. Mowing twice or three times (on smaller lawns) was not abnormal. Gas powered mowers have a 'sucking' or a vacuum action sucking the grass blades UP to be available to be cut. I always trimmed edges first so that my mower could 'vacuum' up the clippings/leaves. Reel mowers don't really do that. If you have a smallish lawn, a reel mower IS best! Just keep those blades super sharp, mow OFTEN (twice per week) to ensure the clippings are small enough to decompose, aerate once per year and find fertilizer that adds thatch decomposing bacteria. Change your 'pattern' each time you mow!!

  • I like that you emphasized that fertilizer is NOT food. I'm always having to correct people's idea that it is. I now I've in a condo but when we owned our previous place, I'd be the grass cutter. I never had heard of a hydrostatic mower before and looked it up. Are they only riding mowers or are they ever push mowers? I only saw riding type.
    – Jude
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 18:37
  • They are made for homeowner use and size! Honda for sure has them. I bet you signed up to be the cutter of the grass! It is a wonderful 'chore'...push mowers will not be hydrostatic. If you deal with lots of rain an excellent choice to have. We had commercial decks with stand aboard fittings. Think about Seattle area. Always wet. We mowed 9 months out of the year. These machines really show their stuff on hills and slopes! Push mowers are hard to find with bags. You truly want to bag clippings. Clippings have a bit of nitrogen in them but that gets used when in decomposition.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 19:06
  • ...I remember sitting down in the middle of a road in pouring pouring rain to have a good cry. I'd already asserted myself as Padrona with my guys so no shame. Unbelievable YEARS of mowing in the rain...yet I still love to mow grass.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 19:09
  • Yes, I live in the Pacific NW too - lower Fraser Valley in Canada. If it was warmish, I never minded getting rain wet unless it was absolutely pouring down, which isn't that common here - mostly light rain or drizzle, as you know. My mower was supposed to be self-propelled but because our lawn wasn't flat and even, I mostly had to push it. Yes, I loved cutting grass except for the noise. I simply loved being outdoors as much as I could. It's the main negative to living in a condo - being able to walk out your back door into the outdoors.
    – Jude
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 19:37

In theory, yes, but the usual problem encountered is slipping and skidding on the grass as you push it along, often causing muddy slicks to appear. At worst, pushing it along might make grooves in wet soil, but if the grass isn't that long, it shouldn't be a problem. That's assuming that what you guys call a reel mower is what we in the UK call a push along cylinder mower, or an unpowered cylinder mower.


Just used my reel mower in the damp grass. Probably would've done a better job if it were dry. My mower wants nothing to do with tall pieces of seed grass. But all the other grass cut fine. Note to self: don't wait so long to cut the grass next time.

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