For many of us, deciding when to mow the lawn is more about finding time in a busy schedule than anything else. But choosing the wrong time to start the mower could try your neighbors’ patience or even jeopardize your lawn’s health.
If you’re asking how early is too early to mow the lawn, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. In this article, I’ll explain how the time of day affects things like grass health, noise pollution, and the amount of wear and tear on your lawn mower.
- How Early is Too Early to Mow Your Lawn
- Best Time of Day To Mow Your Yard
- What Time Is Too Early to Cut Grass at The Weekend
- Effects of Mowing Too Early in Spring
- FAQs How Early is Too Early to Mow
How Early is Too Early to Mow Your Lawn
You don’t want to mow your lawn so early in the day that it is still covered in dew. It’s also essential to take your neighbors’ schedules into account. In most neighborhoods, 9 AM is the earliest acceptable time to start up the lawn mower.
You might also be wondering how early in the season you can safely start mowing. As a rule, you should never cut the lawn earlier than at least a week after your region’s last spring frost date.
Selecting the best time to mow your lawn is far from arbitrary. I find it helps to understand what factors go into determining whether or not it’s too early to mow. From there, you’ll be able to decide for yourself when to get out the lawn mower and when to wait until a little bit later.
Time of Day
Time is not just a number on the clock. As the day progresses, things like temperature, moisture, and sun exposure can drastically change. You want to find a sweet spot that accounts for all of these factors when deciding the best time to mow your lawn.
Upsetting Your Neighbours
Many of us live in urban and suburban settings where the noise of a small engine can reach dozens of people at once. And the last thing you want is to become the thoughtless neighbor who wakes up the entire block by mowing at sunrise.
If your schedule requires, you can always talk to your neighbors about whether or not an earlier start time would disturb their mornings. A little bit of neighborly conversation can go a long way. However, it’s still important to wait until the morning dew has dried before getting out of the lawn mower.
Of course, this advice can also go the other way. You don’t want to be mowing late in the evening when your neighbors are trying to wind down for the night or even fall asleep.
Best Time of Day To Mow Your Yard
Just saying that you should mow your lawn in the morning or afternoon likely isn’t enough. A lot can change from hour to hour, and you need to know what makes a certain time of day ideal for mowing in order to make the best choices for your yard.
The early morning is actually one of the worst times to mow your grass. At this time, lawns are still very damp with dew. It’s also unlikely to be a popular choice among your neighbors.
Mowing before 8 or 9 in the morning can lead to the same damage as mowing after heavy rain. Wet grass clippings will clog your mower and create uneven cuts in the lawn. Your lawn mower’s tires could also create ruts in the soil.
Another concern with early morning mowing is the potential wear and tear on your equipment. Moisture damage is no joke when it comes to lawnmowers. It’s best to wait a couple of hours and allow the grass to dry out.
If your schedule allows, mid-morning is widely regarded as the best time to mow the grass. By this time, most or all dew from the night before will have dried up. You’ll also have plenty of time to finish the job before the heat of midday arrives.
I recommend mowing your lawn between 9 and 11 AM. The exact time that is best will depend on the time of year, the weather, and your general climate. In some areas, 9 AM may still be quite damp and chilly. Likewise, warmer temperatures will be far too hot by the time 11 AM rolls around.
During the warmer part of the year, mowing at or near noon is a terrible idea. The cut grass is very likely to end up with heat stress or burn damage from the midday sun.
Though mowing is a regular part of any lawn care routine, it’s also quite traumatic for the grass itself. For example, newly cut grass will lose significant moisture when conditions are hot and dry. The end result is a lawn that looks worse off after mowing than at the start.
I also want to point out the personal risks of mowing in the middle of the day. On most days, the UV rating is highest shortly after noon. While you should always use sun protection and stay hydrated when working outside, it’s especially important during midday. If you have sensitive skin or other risk factors associated with sun exposure, it’s in your best interest to mow at a different time of day.
If you can wait out the heat until 2 PM or later, it’s likely safe to mow again. However, this time of day is still far from ideal in most cases. I recommend mowing in the mid-afternoon only if the weather is relatively mild and you can’t fit a different time of day into your schedule.
In my experience, late afternoon is often the second-best time to mow the lawn. After about 4 PM, the sun’s rays will weaken and the temperature will drop. And the cut grass will have several hours to recover before nightfall.
I realize that most people can’t fit a morning mowing session into their schedules. While there may be a slight benefit to mowing in the mid-morning instead, there’s no reason to feel bad about mowing in the late afternoon. All other things the same, I promise your lawn will be just as happy and healthy.
Heat isn’t an issue when mowing late in the evening. Unfortunately, there are other reasons to avoid cutting grass just before nightfall.
A lawn mowed after 6 or 7 PM is vulnerable to fungal infections and other types of disease. This is because pathogens spread easily in cool, damp conditions. Freshly cut grass doesn’t have time to heal its wounds before dew and nighttime temperatures arrive.
What Time Is Too Early to Cut Grass at The Weekend
I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who likes to sleep in when they can. For most people, those opportunities arise most often on the weekends. So mowing the lawn in the wee morning hours is unlikely to be on your Saturday or Sunday docket.
If you’re a morning person, on the other hand, it might be tempting to check this chore off your to-do list as early as possible. But problems occur when both types of people live next door to each other.
While neighborhoods vary, it’s generally accepted that the earliest polite time to mow the grass on the weekend is 10 AM. However, you may be able to operate your lawn mower a bit earlier if your neighbors are also up and at ‘em first thing in the morning.
How Early to Mow Grass on A Weekday
Most people wake up early on weekdays for work, school, or general chores and errands. For this reason, you usually won’t need to wait later than 9 AM to operate your lawn mower without disturbing the peace of your neighbors.
Is It Illegal to Mow Your Lawn Too Early?
There is currently no US law that prohibits the use of lawnmowers at a certain time of day. But many towns, cities, and other small municipalities have noise ordinances that apply to lawn equipment.
Taking a neighborly approach, applying common sense, and also doing what’s best for your lawn should ensure that you don’t encounter any legal problems. Most local ordinances only ban excessive noise prior to 6 or 7 AM. If you ignore these laws (and any neighborly complaints), however, you might find yourself subject to a penalty fee.
Effects of Mowing Too Early in Spring
Most lawn and mower damage caused by mowing too early in the spring is due to wet or frozen grass. According to Iowa State University, damp turf is more susceptible to disease spread. Muddy soil is easily torn up by even the lightest lawn mower’s tires, which can cause ruts and compactions that last the entire season.
Grass can survive mild frost if left undisturbed. When walked on or cut with a mower blade, however, the ice inside the plant’s cells shatters.
There’s also a chance that mowing too early — before the grass has filled in — can expose weed seeds in the soil to sunlight and moisture. These weeds may then take over parts of the lawn before the grass has a chance to compete.
Avoiding Winter Lawn Damage
In many climates, mowing too early in the year can cause serious damage to your grass. If the damage is bad enough, you could see lasting harm throughout the rest of the growing season.
There’s no specific date on the calendar when it’s safe to mow your lawn. Instead, you’ll need to account for the average spring weather in your area, including the predicted final frost date. Generally speaking, the cooler and longer your winters are, the later you’ll need to wait in the year before mowing for the first time.