There is a common misconception when it comes to gardeners working in the rain, with lots of gardeners expected to stay at home and not go to work! Of course there are limits, depending on the job being done, but I myself always work in the rain! Whether snowing, raining or pure sunshine, I’ll be there!
Remember, rain is a gardeners friend! After all, not only is it good from a customer’s prospective allowing the grass and plants to flourish, but also keeping unwanted weeds growing allows us gardeners to be even more busy! When starting my gardening business, I was taking on all customers without a care in the world, but I quickly realized that I had to be quite picky as when it rains, around 25% of my customers were messaging me, asking me not to come!
There are two problems with this! The first being, that if I do not work on gardens due to rain, then I will be losing money. With a large family to provide for, this simply wasn’t an ideal option. The second problem is that I book my garden maintenance customers in on a weekly or fortnightly bases, providing them with a time slot. This way, the customer knows that I am coming on a particular day, at a particular time, for X amount of hours. If I am fully booked, then one simple rainy day would mean that the customer would have to wait a hole week or 2 before I am able to come back to work on their garden! Now, when I have a new inquiry asking for garden maintenance, I quickly let them know that I am an all season, all weather gardener and ask if they are happy for me to maintain their garden in the rain and all year round.
What work do gardeners do in the rain?
The answer to this questions is that, all garden work that can be carried out in the sunshine, can also be carried out in the rain, with the exception to grass cutting, which depends on the length of grass and judgement from the gardener. Remembering that you may be better off using a lawn rake instead of a leaf blower when tidying up, you can carry on with your tree pruning, hedge cutting, de-weeding, turning over of flower beds (try not to get mud everywhere) and so on!
Can I cut my grass in the rain?
Again, lot of customers assume that the grass can’t be cut in the rain due to ruining the ground, but I have never had this problem. Remembering that the majority of the gardens I maintain are seen to on a weekly or fortnightly basis, the grass is always kept short between 2 and 3 inches, meaning that there isn’t much to cut upon each visit. If the grass really does look too wet, then I will raise the blades by no more than 1 inch making it much easier to cut.
If however I have a new customer, and they have long grass which hasn’t been cut for a while, then I would either ask to re-arrange, or explain to the customer that I need to cut it on a high setting on this occasion. Lots of gardens, if too long, may be worth strimming instead of using a lawnmower anyway. The problem that I have when cutting long grass in the rain is that it can leave a ‘choppy’ effect, not looking like a clean cut. Or if the blades are due to be sharpened, then the blades on the lawnmower can grab the grass and tear it, instead of cutting it! And finally, no matter the lawn mower, it never picks up the wet grass, leaving it all over the lawn making everything look very messy!
Apart from this, as long as you plan ahead, you can still do all of your pruning, hedge cutting, turning over of flower beds, cleaning gutters and so on! Just keep in mind that the use of a leaf blower may be a bit useless in the rain, so have a lawn rake ready!
Which clothes should a gardener wear in the rain?
Although my work boots are water proof, it doesn’t take long for the rain to enter from the tops of my boots! This is why I swap them for steel toe cap wellies – Just be sure to have nice warm fluffy socks on as they feel pretty cold! I also wear water proof trousers that slip over my usual trousers (so that I can take them on and off between jobs and not get the seats in my van soaked), a waterproof jacket (my hi-viz jacket is more than capable) as well as the use of water proof gloves. Just like jet washing, it’s a strange but warm feeling being warm and dry whilst working on gardens in the rain.
Which garden tools are best to use in the rain?
As a professional gardener, I don’t own any tools that are electric! Not only would my customers have something to say about charging them whilst using cheap domestic garden machinery, but I don’t think they would last very long in the rain!
Petrol machinery however, I have never had a problem with! Whilst working on customer’s gardens, I use all of my 4 stroke petrol lawnmowers in the rain (even the less expensive ones have no difficulties) as well as all of my 2 stroke petrol machinery which includes hedge cutters, strimmers, pruners and much more. Just be sure to dry them off, as well as your hand tools, before putting them back in the van to save problems further down the line.
Remember, petrol equipment (most are trade rated and for commercial use) are much more powerful compared to electric tools, allowing them to handle the cutting of wet grass and hedges when working on gardens in the rain. If your gardener says that he can’t work in your garden due to the tools not being capable in the rain, then it’s time to get a new gardener!
How to plan your garden maintenance around the weather
Time management is very important to us gardeners when it comes to the weather, and change our gardening routines according to the time of year and weather. Of course, you will need to make sure you choose your customers wisely to keep you busy all year round, otherwise you will have no money for Christmas! In the warmer months (Spring and Summer), we focus mostly on hedge cutting, grass cutting, de-weeding and the turning over of flower beds. In the colder months, such as Autumn and Winter, we catch up on the work that we didn’t have time to do in the warmer months (or if not enough hours were booked which is the case in many situations).
Everything starts to slow down in growth when Autumn arrives, which means the final turning over of flower beds etc., will be performed. As well as this, there will be leaves to clear, gutters to clean, trees to prune, fence panels to repair and when we are really struggling to find things to do, we perform other tasks such as jet washing, which we just wouldn’t get time to do in Spring and Summer. The main thing to remember is that it is most likely to rain in the colder months, which is when most plants and grass have stopped growing anyway, which makes it much easier to work on gardens in the rain. When it rains in the Summer, remember that the water will evaporate much more quickly compared to the Winter! The rain and season go hand in hand, and really isn’t as much of a problem as you might expect from a gardener’s point of view. To find out more on what gardener’s do in the Winter, see our other page here!
If you are a gardener that stops working in the rain, then it is important to not fully book your garden maintenance work 7 days a week since when cancelling on a customer, they will want their garden to be seen as soon as possible. Be sure to only book around 4 days a week, so that you have spare days to catch up on work for irregular customers or weather.
Choosing the right gardener for you
When choosing a gardener that works best for you, you will need to decide whether you want a gardener that works in the rain or not. Remember, rain can slow a gardener down, meaning that you may not get as much for your money, or you might not want mud trod everywhere! But this also means that you need a gardener that has spare days for irregular work so that you don’t get let down too often. One reason that I work through the rain is that no customers get let down, no matter the weather. Although this isn’t the case for all gardeners, since some don’t like their tools getting wet or feel that it’s not safe to work in the rain due to health and safety reasons.
If choosing an all weather gardener, be sure to let them decide the best course of action when working on your garden in the rain. The gardener will know if the grass will be ok to cut, or if the turning over of flower beds will leave your brand new paving all muddy, leaving you in need of a light jet wash, costing you more hours! There is a gardener, and a customer, for everyone!