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Mowing Leaves When the Ground is Frozen

Lawn care and landscape professionals speak out


gdguth: Yesterday, I saw a few guys out mowing up leaves and the temperature is only about 25 degrees and the ground is frozen. I would think this is very hard on the grass plant. What is your take on this? There wasn't frost on the grass, but it just seems as if the grass really crunches down or flattens even when I walk on it. I am waiting for it to warm back up into the 40s before I get the mower back out. Will mowing over it damage the plant? I would rather just use the blower and tarp with the little bit I have left to do.

pythons37: The greenskeeper where I play golf will not allow play if there is frost on the grass. The minute the frost is gone, he opens the place up. He will mow until the first snow falls, too. Don't know the theory, but I follow his lead.

Weekend cut easymoney: It will damage the plant.

LawnMowerKing10: Will it hurt the turf if I mow the leaves off the lawn when the temp is in the 40s, but at night gets into the 20s?

MikeA: No, if you mow when it is above freezing and there is no frost on the ground, it will not hurt the grass. Just make sure the frost is gone in the morning before you start. If you mow with frost on the ground it will break off the leaf blades at the crown and you would see dead stripes where the tires were a few days later. More than likely the grass would come back the next spring.

lawnsaspire: You guys who wait around for the ground to unfreeze before working must either have a lot of winter income or you've made enough to make it until next spring. I'm still mowing over leaves in the 20s because the work may not be there next week if we get early snows. I think the grass is resilient enough that it will come back with a vengeance next spring. We're already damaging the turf a little just using these heavy mowers on it anyways. Will a little more damage really matter in the long run?

The Grass Master: By now I have made enough revenue to carry me over to spring. So, yes, I wait until the ground and leaves covered in frost thaw out before starting the day. Today I didn't start until 10 a.m. With the short days, (gets dark at 5:30) I'm behind schedule, but it's OK. Don't worry about being on schedule this time of year. It's just leaves. Final clean-ups will get done as I get to them. Two more weeks worth of work, 70 percent revenue per week, because of short days, as customers are finished for season. Then deliver pizzas for the winter.

herler: You have to do what you have to do. Some of us live in a warm enough climate where starting a bit late isn't such a big deal, not to mention work goes along a lot smoother once things are thawed out. But I also understand that some parts of the country get so cold that it is simply not possible. So, we compromise, at some point it either gets done frozen or not at all. Either way though, my days are definitely short in winter.

Russo Power Equipment: While it is important to remove any leaves or debris from the grass during the winter, the less damage you can do to the grass the better. Soon the grass should be left alone in its dormant stage until the spring.

"In Your Own Words" is contributed from the lawn care and landscape forum at http://www.LawnSite.com, which was named one of 10 Great Media Sites by Media Business magazine, and has been chosen as a winner of the Most Engaged Media Brands for 2010 by min, a firm that tracks the media industry. Visit them, and join in the discussions.