Cutting Grass After Knee Replacement —
Returning to yard work including cutting the grass is a goal of some after knee replacement surgery. Surely you know there will be a break from mowing your lawn after knee replacement but how long you ask?
If you are using a standard self propelled lawn mower, you can return to cutting grass on a modified level around 8 weeks after surgery. Those using a riding mower also need to wait at least 6-8 weeks to comfortably return to cutting grass while riding.
These timeframes are set to allow proper healing of the new knee implant. You also need to regain more strength and stability to safely cut grass with any slope or unsteady ground.
I would suggest if you do not already have a self propelled mower and still use an old fashioned push mode, its time for a change. The days of being able to use your legs to help propel a lawn mower should be long gone at this point.
Below are some 6 things to consider if you are planning to return to cutting grass after your knee replacement:
1. Size of Your Yard
If you have a smaller sized yard under 1/3 acre then you should have able to comfortably handle the return to grass cutting. Normally this size of lawn would take anywhere from 60-90 minutes to complete which would be at the top of your tolerance after 6 weeks.
For those with yards greater than 1/3 acre using a self propelled mower, you may need to space out your mowing. Anyone with over 3/4 acre of yard area should consider either taking multiple breaks or possibly purchasing a riding mower for this area of grass.
Your new knee will eventually regain its strength and endurance after ~4-6 months and you will return you to normal lawn mowing.
2. Terrain of Your Yard
If your yard is flat then your return to grass cutting after your new knee will be much simpler. Walking on flat ground will be much more tolerated by your new TKR.
For those with a hilly or more sloped yard, you first need to consider if you can even return to safe grass cutting. If you are constantly walking uneven hilly terrain for your yard, it might be time to have someone else cut your grass.
If you feel you are able to cut your hilly yard, be extremely careful with your steppage. Because of the uneven ground you will always be at an increased risk of slip and fall. At the early stage of your recovery you cannot afford a fall as it can lead to damage to your knee.
Bottom line: If you don’t feel safe and solid while cutting your grass then do not do it.
3. Bagging vs. Mulching
After a knee replacement I would highly suggest in the first year to avoid bagging your grass. Why? There are a couple of reasons.
First off, the weight of the bag as it starts to collect grass will add stress to the turns and general handling of the lawn mower.
Second, when removing a full bag of grass then dumping into a trash bag, the act of doing this usually involves twisting and pivoting. These are motions that should avoided after surgery
Third, you will need to drag all of the heavy bags from the grass once the cutting is completed unless you have someone else do it for you. This is 100% not something you should be attempting within the first 5-6 months of surgery.
4. Grass Type
Depending on your climate and location, your grass may be easier or more difficult to cut. Grass types vary from region to region and this can affect the difficulty level of your grass cut.
Those in the more damp humid locations tend to have thicker grass making mowing more difficult. Never cut wet grass as this not only makes the grass heavier but also makes the footing under you less steady.
Depending on your grass type, you may want to wear more sturdy shoes when cutting the grass with your new knee. Some of my patients with prior knee and hip replacements mention they wear golf shoes when they cut the grass.
Golf shoes contain spikes on the sole which provide a better grip and steadier footing. This can be especially useful on slopes or hills while cutting your grass.
5. Weather & Climate
As I’ve emphasized before, you cannot afford to fall while cutting your grass. In order to be prevent a fall, only cut your grass in good dry weather conditions.
Do not ever cut grass in the rain or when the grass in wet or damp after your knee replacement. The chances of slipping on wet grass, especially if there’s a slope or hill involved is much greater. This is especially the case for you when your TKR is not completely healed or strong at this stage of your recovery.
6. Pull Start vs. Push Button Mower
We have all had a stubborn lawn mower that takes 10 hard pulls on the starter. If you just had your knee replaced and have one of these mowers, think twice about putting that amount of stress on your leg.
Pulling with a planted leg with strong force repeatedly could be too much for your knee to handle in this early stage. If you are pull starting and feel some fatigue setting in, be smart and lay low on this activity.
You can always have someone else start the mower, buy a new easy start lawn mower or simply avoiding mowing your lawn altogether.
Having issues early on in cutting grass with your new knee? Don’t worry. Sometimes it can take a year to get back to full activity following TKR. Hang in there.
Final Thoughts on Cutting Grass After Knee Replacement
- You Can Potentially Return to Grass Cutting 6-8 Weeks After Your Knee Replacement
- Factors Include Lawn Size, Terrain, Mower Type and Weather Conditions
- Limit Any Heavy Lifting Including Bagging Grass During Mowing