We’ve all seen the lawnmower graveyards and it only goes to show that folks could stand to learn a little more about the ins and outs of mower maintenance. As generations work to become less and less wasteful we want to arm you with some great tips and tricks to keep your mower running for years to come by learning how to pick the right mower for your needs, mowing tips and most importantly, how to properly maintain this expensive appliance.
Pick the right mower
As you stroll the aisles of your local hardware store or scroll online in search of your new lawnmower, it's apparent that it’s not as easy as choosing the cheapest one. There many options, so factoring in the following and what’s best for you and your needs may include:
Size of yard
Frequency of lawn maintenance
How manual you want the process
These are the supreme in “push mowers.” You provide the muscle to push and then the blades spin as you can walk so very manual but easy to control. These are best for small and flat yards because as the power relies on your physical strength, extremely large yards or tricky terrain can be tough.
Electric and Battery-Powered Mowers
Probably the most common when you think of a mower, these are best for keeping small to medium-sized yards, trimmed with ease. They can also handle a bit of terrain but nothing too complicated.
First thighs first, these have actual horsepower so they will save you on the manual push power. Gas-powered mowers are powerful and efficient at cutting medium-to-large grass lawns that are relatively flat.
These mowers are a favorite because they do all of the work for you and are basically mowing mini cars and can handle large to extremely large yards. Mature homeowners appreciate these but are very popular with any demographic where the area to be covered is large.
How to mow
Try to mow your grass when it gets about one-third higher than the normal recommended mowing height. For example, because it's best to trim your grass to 3 inches high, you’ll need to set your blades to mow the grass to about 4 inches high for that first mow of the season. This way you can gradually lower them until you achieve your desired height. Avoid cutting the grass too short too fast because it can stress your little plant stems. For lush lawn results, it’s recommended to not cut your grass below three inches and change your mowing direction each time because grass develops the grain it grows based on the direction it is cut. Doing this will lead to a more even growth pattern.
Read the owner’s manual
Check the lawn for rocks and other potential hazards beforehand
Wear proper clothing and closed-toe shoes
Keep children and pets away
Cool the engine for 10 minutes before fueling
Never leave the mower running unattended
Be careful on slopes
Keep it clean
With the gas tank empty, turn your mower on its side. From this angle, you will be able to remove any dirt and debris with a coarse brush or broom. Sweep and/or scrub away anything that may be caked around the blades or up under the mower deck. Feel free to scrub the deck with soapy water to get it really spic-and-span and just rinse off with a hose. Always completely dry your mower thoroughly before storing away.
Regular Oil Changes
Your lawnmower is an investment that you depend on. Its ability to work depends on how well the motor is taken care of and the best way to care for the motor is basic oil changes. These oil changes are super easy with a little elbow grease. Start by making sure you are using an oil specifically formulated for small engines. When changing the oil, first disconnect the spark plugs (this is where reading the manual will come in handy but there is always Youtube if you are unsure how to do this for your model of lawnmower). Then you should pour old oil into a container and it’s a best practice to recycle it at an auto parts store. Finally, you can just fill the oil compartment to the dipstick fill line with the fresh oil.
Air Filter Maintenance
Working hard in the outdoors will put an air filter through the wringer. Make a point to check it a few times during your mowing season. Lawnmowers use two types of air filters: paper and foam. Check to see what type you have, and follow any special instructions in the manual. You will be able to see at first glance whether a paper filter is dirty and when it looks like it will need to be replaced. Foam filters are reusable so you can just remove and wash it in soapy water, rinsing it completely and letting it air-dry. Once the filter is completely dry, spread a thin, even coating of clean motor oil across the surface and reinstall it according to the instruction manual.
A lawnmower can’t do its job properly without sharp blades. Dull blades cut unevenly and tear the grass instead of cutting it. It's important to sharpen the blades at the beginning of mowing season, and again after about every ten hours of use. Proper blade maintenance starts as simply as brushing them clean after each mow to prevent the accumulation of debris. Try to avoid mowing when the grass is wet because it will cause your blades to dull faster and your lawn to yellow making it more susceptible to disease. Sharpening mower blades can totally be DIY but it will take a little practice. For safety’s sake, find tutorials for your model of lawnmower, buy a pair of cut-resistant gloves and get to work. If that isn’t how you want to spend an hour, you can always find a professional service that can sharpen your mower blades. Start this search either at your local hardware store or on an app like TaskRabbit.
Sometimes you just need to replace your blades. Typically, you will want to replace them every two to three years. Many professional landscapers advise even keeping an extra set of blades on hand in case one gets broken in the middle of a mow.
Winterizing your mower
Has it turned chilly and you know your mowing days are done for this season? Great, we have a quick checklist to make it easy.
Remove the fuel
Remove the spark plug
Replace or clean air filters
Change the oil
Clean the mower from A-Z
Sharpen or replace the blades
Lubricate the mower
Cover and store
And that’s it. Everything we consider pretty important tips, tricks and reminders on your lawnmower and its maintenance. Lastly, take care of yourself while you are out there mowing or taking care of your lawnmower. Stay hydrated and wear your sunscreen.
Are you a Hippo customer and have questions about your lawn maintenance, or any other home maintenance project for that matter? We are here to help. Hippo Home Care is a complimentary service just for you, give us a call 24/7.