If there have been days and days of torrential rain, certain tasks in the garden just cannot be done. Mowing the grass when the ground is soft and saturated can damage the lawn. But there are still many other jobs in the garden that can be done when it is raining.
Professional gardeners plan their work around the weather forecast and allocate certain jobs for rainy days: pruning, weeding, planting seeds, feeding plants, installing stakes, tidying the potting shed, garage, or greenhouse. Observing the garden while it rains is helpful for garden planning.
Rain is a gardener’s best friend. Apart from watering the plants and making them thrive, rain softens the ground and makes some tasks, like weeding, much easier. Rainy days are also great for sowing seeds because there is ample moisture in the soil for them to soak up to germinate.
Do Gardeners Work in the Rain?
Working outside in the mud while it is raining may not be for everyone, but it certainly does not bother most experienced gardeners. As long as they have waterproof gumboots, waterproof pants, and a rain jacket to stay warm and dry, many gardeners love working on rainy days, as it brings a different atmosphere to the garden.
If you hire a gardener, do not cancel your booking on rainy days. Professional gardeners plan their work ahead and schedule tasks around the weather. It is also helpful for them to see the garden when it is raining, to observe where puddles form and where more drainage is required.
There are definitely limits – nobody wants to work outside during a massive storm. Gardeners will let you know if conditions are so bad that they need to re-schedule.
Gardening Jobs for Rainy Days
Most jobs that can be done when the sun is out can also be done in the rain, but professional gardeners plan to do specific jobs on rainy days. Even after a sudden cloud burst and sheeting rain, the ground can dry out surprisingly quickly, allowing gardeners to get back to their regular tasks.
The following tasks can be done before it rains:
- Sow seeds directly into garden beds or overseed the lawn.
- Feed plants with an organic liquid fertilizer.
- Cover young plants that are too fragile to be heavily rained on.
It is the perfect time to do these tasks while it is raining:
- Put tubs and water cans outside to capture rainwater.
- Carry indoor plants outside to water them.
- Organize and tidy the garden shed or greenhouse.
- Sow seeds into trays or pot on seedlings inside the garden shed or greenhouse.
- Go through all the fertilizers and garden products to check their expiry dates.
- Clean and sharpen gardening tools.
After the rain, the following tasks can be done:
- Weeding garden beds is much easier to do after it has rained because the soil is softer.
- Install stakes for plants that need support. The soft ground helps to push them in deep.
- Pick off slugs and snails. These pests are always out after it has rained, so one can easily catch them, especially on lettuce plants.
- Turn the compost heap. This will help to distribute the moisture. Also, turn in grass cuttings, dry leaves, and other organic matter.
- Harvest vegetables while they are still wet with fresh rainwater. Lettuce leaves are naturally sweeter after it rains.
There are also many other tasks that can easily be done in wet weather without causing harm to the garden:
- Rake up fallen leaves. It is better to use a rake rather than an electric leaf blower on a rainy day.
- Prune trees. Manual pruning shears can be used, or a petrol-powered pruner, rather than an electric one.
- Trim hedges. A petrol-powered hedge trimmer should be used, or simply manual hedging shears.
- Compost the garden beds. The plants will benefit from the nutrients as well as the moisture, and a thick layer of compost will suppress weeds.
Gardeners have to be careful working in wet, rainy conditions, as the ground is very soft, and it is not good to step into garden beds or on the lawn, as this can make holes and compact the soil.
Mowing the Lawn in the Rain
One job that cannot be done in the rain is lawnmowing. It is not a good idea to cut wet grass for the sake of the machinery as well as the lawn.
Lawnmowers do not cut grass as cleanly when it is wet, even with a sharp blade. The mower will have to be cleaned out often to prevent wet clippings from clogging it. Mowers often choke on wet clippings, spitting out clumps of wet grass. If these are left unraked, they can smother the grass underneath, creating unattractive yellow spots on the lawn.
When it has been raining for days and the ground is oversaturated, pushing a mower over the lawn can damage it. Because the ground underneath the lawn is so soft, the mower can leave wheel ruts or tear up the grass.
Mowing lawn in the rain also increases the risk of spreading diseases and weeds. Grass diseases tend to occur more often after prolonged rainfall. This is a significant reason why expert horticulturists advise against mowing wet lawn. The mower spreads diseased plant matter around, infecting other parts of the garden. If there are weeds in the lawn, it will also spread their wet seeds, making them germinate faster.
If it has not been raining for days on end and the lawn is not very long, then it should not be a problem to mow the grass in the rain or after a short deluge. It will not do harm to the lawn nor the lawnmower.
When it rains, professional gardeners certainly do not hang up their tools. In very heavy rain, they may go inside to wait out the storm with a cup of tea, but afterwards, they go back out into the garden, as there are many tasks to do on rainy days.
Experienced gardeners schedule garden maintenance around the weather forecast, planning to do certain tasks on rainy days. Some tasks, like weeding, staking up plants, sowing seeds, overseeding the lawn, and putting down compost, are better to do on rainy days.
Jobs like trimming hedges, pruning trees, and raking leaves can still be done in drizzly weather. In heavier rain, gardeners can organize and tidy the shed, potting area, or greenhouse.
One task that should not be done if the ground is oversaturated is mowing the lawn. It can damage the lawn by spreading diseases, weed seeds, making wheel ruts, and tearing up the grass.