My landscaper is leaving ruts in my lawn!

My landscaper is leaving ruts in my lawn!

My landscaper is leaving ruts in my lawn!

After your lawn care provider finishes mowing the lawn, are you starting to notice that he is leaving ruts in your yard? 

Particularly where he is turning? This is a common issue with commercial landscapers

I have seen this same problem. 

So you are not alone.

But what causes these ruts, and how can you prevent them?

Here is what you need to know. 

A serene garden scene with vibrant flowers and the sun setting in the background casting a warm glow over a well-maintained landscape

What are the common causes of ruts in the lawn?

When it comes to a lawnmower leaving ruts in the lawn, there are a few causes. Most of them are preventable and come down to operator error. But sometimes, they are a sign of a bigger problem with your lawn.

Common reasons your lawn may have ruts in it from your lawn care provider include: 

  • Your yard holding too much water, 

  • Cutting the lawn when it's' too wet,

  • Cutting the lawn too fast,

  • Using a lawnmower that is too big for the property, 

  • Inexperienced operator,

  • Failing to change cutting patterns regularly. 

Each of these are reasons that there may be ruts forming in your lawn. Most come down to operator error but... some properties simply retain too much water. And if that's the case, the core issue needs to get addressed. 

A placeholder image with a default graphic indicating that the actual image is not available.

How Can Over-Saturation Cause Ruts?

Before taking it out on the lawn care provider you hired, ensure that an oversaturated lawn is not causing the ruts.

Especially in coastal regions, some lawns hold too much water. And simply waiting for the yard to be dry may not be an option, especially in warmer months when the grass grows several inches a week. 

Alternatively, your lawn care provider may be able to cut certain areas with a push mower, but this may cost you extra because it will take more time

Otherwise, ruts in your lawn may be inevitable if your drainage is poor. I have seen entire neighborhoods where this is the case. But it would help if you also considered the next cause of ruts too. 

Pro tip! Fertilizing your lawn regularly and aerating annually can improve the drainage of your yard.

A placeholder image with a default graphic indicating that the actual image is not available.

What Happens If You Cut Too Soon After Rain?

Another common issue is a lawn care provider cutting the lawn too soon after it rains. While it is best to mow a property when it is dry... Unfortunately, it may be impractical not to cut a lawn during certain seasons, whether wet or not. 

If you are adamant about only cutting your lawn when it's' dry, speak to your lawn care provider and ask them not to mow the property when it is wet. 

This may or may not be an option that your lawn care provider will offer, so you may need to find a lawn care provider that can accommodate the schedule you are looking for. 

What Should I Do If My Lawn Has Ruts Due to Operator Error?

If a wet lawn does not cause the ruts, it comes down to operator error or using the wrong equipment. 

Ruts are often caused by turning a lawnmower too fast; if this is the case, your lawn care provider will need to slow down when they make turns. 

Finally, we recommend that you alternate cutting patterns on the lawn. For example, doing horizontal stripes one week and vertical the next. In softer lawns, failing to rotate cutting patterns can leave ruts in the yard over time.

Addressing the Issue With Your Provider

If there are ruts in your lawn caused by operator error, you will want to address the issue with your lawn care provider. 

Step #1: Ask Your Lawn Care Pro to Go Slow

First, ask him to go slower, especially when he is turning.  He can mow without causing these kinds of ruts if the lawn is dry. 

Step #2: Don't Mow When It's Wet.

Second, ask him not to mow if it's too wet. If your lawn has low spots or areas that retain water for long periods, consider filling in the soft spots and leveling the yard—or improving your drainage by installing french drains or other drainage systems.  Poor drainage will not only lead to ruts in the lawn, but it may also cause issues if you are on a septic system too. 

Step #3: Ask Them to Repair The Lawn

Third, If the ruts are caused by operator error, ask that he repair the areas by placing the seed in the torn-up areas next time he comes to mow the lawn. 

This will cost him a little time and money, so he'll be more careful or train his guys not to turn too fast on your property.  If he doesn't repair the issue, it might be time to find a new lawn pro.

Pro Tip! If you have an irrigation system, you could be causing the problem.  Set your controller not to water the mornings that he comes and ideally not the day before either.   Also, with more shaded parts of your lawn, you may not need to water as much, so adding water to the problem.  So give your landscaper the best conditions possible for him to do an excellent job for you.

Avoiding Ruts is Possible

Look, it is possible to mow without issue if he goes slow enough and the turf is not wet from rain or irrigation, even with a powerful zero-turn mower.     

 Solutions to Prevent Lawn Ruts

Improve Drainage
Address water retention issues through aeration, proper fertilization, and installing drainage systems.
Wait for Dry Conditions
Avoid mowing immediately after rain; wait until the lawn is dry to prevent compaction and rut formation.
Reduce Mowing Speed
Encourage your lawn care provider to slow down, especially during turns, to minimize rutting.
Right-size the Mower
Use a mower appropriate for the lawn size to ensure even weight distribution and prevent ruts.
Educate Operators
Ensure lawn care providers are trained in proper mowing techniques to avoid common mistakes that lead to ruts.
Rotate Cutting Patterns
Alternate mowing patterns (e.g., switching between horizontal and vertical stripes) to evenly distribute wear.

The moral of the story is that if you start noticing ruts, don't panic.  Give your landscaper a chance to fix the issue and point out these tips listed above or address the underlying problem with your lawn. Sometimes, however, you may need to find a new lawn care provider.

About The Author

About The Author

gene author post

Greenpal Loading Spinner