How to Choose the Best Lawn Mower for Wet & Long Grass
There’s a lot of words we could use to describe the weather in Britain, and unfortunately ‘predictable’ is not one of them. Trying to keep on top of the mowing is tricky at the best of times, let alone when it barely stops raining for two weeks straight.
Fortunately, there are certain mowers that can manage these conditions reasonably well, and are capable of cutting long, wet grass without causing too much strain on the mower. It’s just a case of finding them!
Here you’ll find more information about what makes the best lawn mower for long and wet grass, so you can make an informed decision.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a mower for long/wet grass is its range of cutting heights.
These can vary significantly from mower to mower and, generally speaking, more expensive mowers will have more options when it comes to cutting height. Whilst a budget mower may have a choice of three cutting heights, a premium model could have up to eight or nine.
In the UK, many gardeners choose not to cut their lawn shorter than 25 mm. Most lawn mowers have a minimum cutting height close to this number. Maximum cutting heights tend to be between 70 – 80 mm, although there are some mowers that only offer around 50 – 60 mm.
A lawn that is too short can be prone to damage, either from wear and tear or from hot weather and draught. Shorter grass is more exposed than longer grass.
There are several reasons why you might want a range of cutting heights:
- If the grass is long, you shouldn’t cut it dramatically short in the first run. This can cause a lot of stress to the grass and affect its health.
- You should avoid cutting the length of the grass by more than 1/3 in one go.
- With a range of cutting heights, you can slowly get grass down to the desired length.
- For the first cut of the season, you should use the mower’s maximum cutting height (and, ideally, this will cut off less than 1/3 of the grass).
- If the grass is really long, gradually working away at it can cause less strain on the mower, instead of trying to get it all gone in one go.
Electric vs. Petrol Lawn Mowers
There are pros and cons to either type of lawn mower, but it’s worth taking the time to think about which you’d prefer. Even if you’ve had a petrol mower all your life, you may find that it’s now more convenient to get an electric model.
Petrol Lawn Mowers
Using a petrol lawn mower gives the freedom of cordless mowing, combined with the power of a petrol machine.
Petrol lawn mowers are generally extremely powerful. They can cut through long, thick grass, and will manage damp conditions as well.
One of the main problems with a petrol mower, aside from the fumes and negative environmental impact of using a petrol machine, is their weight. Petrol mowers are large and heavy; therefore, they can be difficult to move around the garden.
Getting a self-propelled mower can certainly make things easier; it will pull the mower around so you don’t have to push. This is particularly useful in sloped gardens, or gardens with thick grass.
Nevertheless, petrol mowers may not be appropriate for people who find it difficult to lift heavy objects. Similarly, they may be difficult to manage in gardens with lots of steps and different levels. Electric models can be a lot more manageable.
Mains-powered mowers are the ‘happy medium’ between petrol- and battery-powered mowers.
There are no fumes, and they’re better for the environment than petrol mowers, plus they tend to be more powerful than battery-powered mowers (although, nowadays, many battery-powered models are catching up).
The main disadvantage of using a mains-powered mower is that you have to be connected to a socket by a power cable. This can make it difficult to easily access all areas of the garden, and you also need to be careful not to cut the wire.
Many mains-powered mowers can deal with long, damp grass. Their capabilities may depend somewhat on their maximum cutting height, and some models may need to do a couple of passes to make sure they cut everything evenly.
In recent years, there has been a surge of powerful battery-powered mowers that can better keep up with the performance of mains-powered machines (and they have the added benefit of being cordless).
Some battery-powered mowers have the strength to cut through longer grass; however, they need a sufficiently large battery to do so. Cutting through long grass will put more strain on the mower, which will cause the battery to run out quicker.
A 6.0 Ah battery can achieve up to an hour’s run time (and sometimes more). However, such large batteries will rarely come included with the mower. They’ll need to be purchased separately and can be expensive.
One of the main advantages of battery-powered mowers is that they are lightweight. This makes them easier to move around the garden and lift up steps. For some, this might be more worth having than any extra power.
Grass Clippings: Mulch, Discharge or Collect
Many mowers offer a few different methods for disposing of grass clippings. Having options can help you control the health and appearance of your lawn.
The classic method is collecting the clippings in a bag or box attached to the mower. This keeps the lawn looking tidy, and the clippings can be added to the compost heap. However, it can be time consuming to frequently empty the grass collector, and as it fills up, it can make the mower harder to push.
If the box is left off the mower, the clippings will be discharged onto the lawn. They can either be collected later, or left on the lawn. If left on the lawn, there is a danger the clippings may go sodden and brown which is messy and not great for the grass.
Alternatively, some mowers have a mulching function (However, this isn’t present on all models). When the mulching ‘plug’ accessory is attached to the lawn mower, it will shred the grass clippings into tiny pieces before discharging them onto your lawn. This can help to fertilise your lawn and retain moisture.
Grass Collector Size
Although there are other ways of dealing with grass clippings, you may choose to collect them.
Any size grass collector will work, but if the bag is too small you will have to empty it often.
A 45 L grass collector may be too small for a medium garden – particularly if the grass is long. This size is best for small spaces.
If you have a medium garden, a 55 L+ grass collector should be sufficient. There are large mowers that have grass collectors of 70 L+.
Lawn Mower for Wet & Long Grass FAQs
How can I mow wet and long grass in my garden?
Long and wet grass can be a serious strain on some mowers, reducing their lifespan and causing clogs.
To mow a wet lawn, you should first remove any excess dew or moisture. To do this, drag a hosepipe (horizontally) across the lawn. This is to sluice water away. From here, you can either mow the grass straight away or wait for it to dry.
- Raise the mowing height on the mower to ensure you’re not cutting the grass too short. Ensure the blades are freshly sharpened. You want to give your lawn a quick trim as opposed to a full cut. Once it’s dry, you can mow it down a little shorter.
- When mowing, keep the speed low and go carefully as your mower will need to work harder to get through the grass. Empty the collector bag more often than you would normally, as wet grass will weigh down the mower. Finally, mow in multiple directions, as wet grass can flatten down against the lawn.
- Once you’re finished, clean the underside of your mower deck to ensure there’s no damp grass built up. Remember that you will need to mow more frequently when the grass is wet.
To cut long grass, there’s a few additional things to remember. First of all, you should never try to cut more than a third off the height of your long grass in one go. This can damage the roots. Instead reduce the grass height by mowing on the highest setting.
Once you’ve been over the lawn once, reduce the height slightly more and make a second pass. Take your time, and clear out the blade regularly.
Leave the lawn for a few days to aid recovery, then mow again down to the final height you would like.
How do I know if my grass is too wet to mow?
If your grass is so wet that you can’t walk across it without your shoes getting wet, the grass is too wet to mow.
If your lawn is very wet, it could damage your lawn mower and clog your mower deck. The finish may be uneven and messy.
However, provided you follow the advice above, you should be able to mow your lawn when the grass is damp – just avoid it when it’s really wet.
Are lawn mowers waterproof?
No, they aren’t. Although you might think that a lawn mower is a pretty hardy machine, none of them are built to be entirely waterproof. Petrol models will still have gaps whereby it’s possible for water to get into the machinery, and electric models are the same. Plus, simply due to the combination of water and electricity, you shouldn’t consider using an electric mower when it’s wet outside.
Basically, if the rain is coming down, leave your mower inside the shed and don’t feel obligated to cut the lawn – there will be another (drier) opportunity.