Gardening expert warns against ‘detrimental’ autumn mowing mistake

Gardening expert explains benefits of not mowing your lawn

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If gardeners mow their lawn under the wrong conditions, not only could they end up causing problems with their lawn for winter, but chances are they’ll risk ruining their lawn mower too. Paul Chappell, co-owner of gardening tool manufacturer, DTW Tools and Machinery, said: “Mowing lawns during wet or cold weather conditions can be detrimental, not only to the lawn, but to the machinery itself.”

Paul explained: “When the weather is cold, the blades of lawn mowers become less efficient, particularly in older or well-used models.

“They struggle to get the momentum they need to spin quickly enough to cut the grass blades. 

“This leads to grass getting caught in the mechanism, which can wreak havoc with the machine itself.”

There could be even worse effects on lawnmowers when the weather is wet and can lead the garden appliance to overheat.

Paul warned: “Wet weather is even more problematic. Mowing straight after rainfall or even when there is dampness or mildew on grass blades means that grass is more likely to clump and jam the blades of the mower. 

“This causes strain on the machinery and can lead to the mower blocking up and overheating.”

He added that the same is true for other garden power tools such as leaf blowers, strimmers and trimmers. 

Lawn experts at Lawn Love agreed that grass should never be cut when it is wet as it suffocates the lawn’s roots.

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They said: “Lawn’s roots need a steady supply of oxygen to grow strong and healthy. Mowing wet grass can cut off that oxygen supply and suffocate your grassroots, leading to thin and patchy growth. Why does that happen? There are two reasons. 

“When your grass is wet, your soil is wet, too. Rolling your heavy lawn mower across wet soil causes compaction, which means oxygen can’t reach the roots. The wheels can also cause unattractive ruts in wet soil.

“Cut wet grass tends to clump. Your mower leaves these large clumps of clippings behind in the lawn, where they block airflow, water, and sunlight from reaching the living grass.”

Mowing the lawn when it is wet also encourages fungal lawn diseases. The experts said: “Those tears in the blades of grass will leave your lawn more susceptible to infection from fungal disease.

“Fungi thrive in moist conditions, so the combination of torn grass and water lingering in the lawn all but guarantees lawn disease.”

So the rule is simple; wait for a spell of mild, clear days before considering whether it’s the right time to mow the lawn before winter arrives.

Some common lawn fungi to look out for (especially if you recently mowed the lawn while wet) are:

  • Brown patches – causes irregular circles of brown grass
  • Anthracnose – causes reddish-brown patches
  • Leaf spot – causes small brown spots with darker brown or purplish-red borders 
  • Read thread – Causes reddish threads of fungus on the tips of grass blades

The lawn specialists added: “These and other lawn diseases can weaken your grass and even kill large swaths of the lawn if left unchecked.”

At this time of year, it is doubly important to clean lawn mowers carefully after each use, and especially before putting them away safely and securely in, ideally covered in a thick, waterproof blanket, until spring. 

Chris Bonnett, founder of gardening website Gardening Express, said: “Before winter comes around you want to clean the deck of any dampness and residue. 

“This is the part that stops blades and debris from shooting out, it protects you and the engine of the lawn mower.

“A lot of people don’t consider this part of their lawn mower but if you don’t clean this, you could end up leaving it exposed to moisture throughout the winter and it may begin corroding and affecting the lawn mower’s performance.”

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