You may have heard this little nugget around the Internet water cooler: water helps grass bounce back after the stress of good mowing. And unlike a lot of Internet nuggets, this one is actually true — to an extent.
Yes, it’s good to water grass after mowing, but only when the grass needs it. If you walk across the lawn and can still see your footprints after, it needs watering. If the soil is already moist, then watering will only cause problems. As always, it’s best to water in the early morning to prevent fungi and disease.
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Should I Water My Lawn After Mowing It?
If your lawn is dry, then watering your lawn after mowing it will help your lawn bounce back after the stress of mowing. But if the soil’s damp, don’t worry about it. Your lawn already has enough water. You will end up either overwatering and making your lawn more susceptible to fungi and root rot, or you will encourage grassroots to grow shallowly, where they’re more vulnerable to the heat and less resilient to droughts.
You can tell if your lawn needs to be mown by walking across the lawn. When you look back, if you see your footprints in the grass, then it’s time to water.
Check the weather before you water. If there’s rain in the short-term forecast, then save yourself the trouble and extra expense on your water bill.
Should I Water My Lawn Before Mowing It?
Definitely do not water your lawn before mowing! Mowing wet grass causes many problems that you can easily avoid by waiting.
These problems include:
- A sloppy-looking lawn. As the water weighs the grass blades down, the mower blades cut unevenly.
- If the blades are dull, they tear the grass rather than cut. Tears are more susceptible to disease and fungi than cuts are, especially when wet. (It also adds to that sloppy look.)
- Wet soil is prone to compaction, especially when running a heavy mower over it.
- Wet cut grass clumps together and clogs up the lower deck. You’ll work way harder just to push the mower over the lawn. And instead of just leaving the grass cuttings to biodegrade, you’ll have to spread out or remove the clumps to prevent them from shading the grass underneath.
- Wet grass is slippery, so you’re more likely to slip and injure yourself.
- If you use an electric mower, you could electrocute yourself or short out the engine.
See? It’s definitely not worth it! Wait until after you mow.
How Soon After Mowing Should I Water?
If you’re mowing early in the morning, you can water your lawn immediately after. This gives the water enough time to absorb deeply into the soil before the heat of the day evaporates it, while also allowing the grass to dry quickly. Freshly cut grass is more vulnerable to fungi and disease, which is fine when dries quickly, but even worse if left wet overnight.
If you have to mow at night, either water it in the morning or wait until the next morning to water. When you water at night, the grass stays moist throughout the night, making the grass vulnerable to fungi and disease. Grass is especially vulnerable right after it’s been shorn.
Either way, only water after mowing if your lawn needs it! And you do not need to mow and water your lawn at the same time.
Can You Fertilize Your Lawn After Mowing?
Yes, you can fertilize your lawn after mowing. By first cutting the grass, you’re opening up the soil so that synthetic fertilizer and organic compost can more easily reach the soil. If you’re going to fertilize, then you will need to remove the grass cuttings for the compost pile. Otherwise, the grass cuttings will block the fertilizers’ path.
You will need to wait a week after applying fertilizer to mow again.
Should You Edge Your Lawn Before or After Mowing?
Edge your lawn before mowing as it’ll save you time when mowing. When you trim and edge your lawn first, you’re not tempted to get too close to trees, plants, mailboxes, and fences with the lawn mower. Getting too close could end up damaging them. You’ll also save time, as you’re not trying to wield the unwieldy mower close to these obstacles.
What to do After Mowing the Lawn?
So besides edging the lawn before mowing, and watering after, what other activities should you do after mowing the lawn?
- Check the lower mower deck/blades, and clean when necessary. This needs to be done at least twice a year, and especially every time you’re cutting wet or very long grass. When grass becomes encrusted on the blades, it doesn’t allow the grass blades to stand upright for a clean cut, and, you guessed it, spreads disease across your newly cut lawn.
- Leave grass clippings in place, spread the grass clippings out if they’re too thick, or bag them to put in your compost pile. Fresh grass clippings are an excellent FREE source of nitrogen [PDF] and do not cause thatch problems.
- Sweep stray clippings from paths and driveways back onto the lawn. (You could use a lawn blower, but your neighbors would love it if you didn’t.) This makes your yard look neater and keeps the stray clippings from washing into the storm drains and causing clogs.
- Water the lawn if the lawn needs it.
Before you break out the sprinkler, walk across your lawn to see if it needs to be watered in the first place. Mowing and watering schedules don’t always line up. And check the weather first — if a downpour is on the way, you can just tidy up and watch the rain threading down the window panes, knowing your grass is in excellent hands.