Lawn mowing is a critical job to a healthy lawn and if done poorly, the lawn will be limited and weak areas will die off. In order to properly cut the lawn, your mower has to be running in peak performance. In this post, we’ll go over some of the simple steps to get your mower ready for the upcoming season. These tips are for a typical cutting season, approximately 30 cuts, so adjust the maintenance if you are the
neighborhood lawn guy!
To get the best cut —> use a sharp blade spinning at max rpms
To achieve this, follow this list;
- Keep the mower clean
- Follow owner’s manual
- Use high octane, fresh gas (buy enough for only a few weeks)
- Check oil often (don’t screw cap in to check level)
- Once a year, change oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter and spark plug (tune up kit should have all these things)
- Keep blade sharp, like a butter knife, not like a razor
- Keep tire pressure consistent
- Tighten belts
- Lube and grease as needed (follow manual)
One of the simplest ways to ensure your mower is spinning at max capacity – keep it clean. Do not allow any build up under the cutting deck, around any belts, or on the engine. A hose could do the trick, or use your hands and a putty knife. If your hands go near the blade, then disconnect the spark plug. Spinning the blade by hand could possibly ignite the engine.
The owner’s manual will be a valuable source of information when it comes to maintaining your specific mower. It is written by the people who built the mower and they should know the best what to do.
Use high octane fuel and don’t let the mower run out it while running. Most recommendations are for a minimum of 87 octane, but I like to use the good stuff. The more expensive gas will last a bit longer on the shelf, but keep only enough for a few weeks. At the end of the season drain the tank or use fuel stabilizer. Bad gas is usually the cause for engines not starting.
Oil is critical to a properly running mower, considered the blood of the engine. Check it often to make sure it is at the proper level. There are different guidelines to checking different engines, but usually you do not have to screw the dipstick it. So make sure it is checked properly. Any debris that is visible, get it out and if the oil looks dark, than change it. Every time the oil is changed, replace the oil filter as well and dispose properly.
Tune up kit – The air filter should be checked constantly. It clogs quickly and collects a lot of dust and debris. There is usually a foam filter around the air filter and this piece will collect most of the junk. These are easy to clean, and they are inexpensive so clean or replace often.
The spark plug is a simple item to change also. Often this piece is replaced only when the engine fails to start. It is inexpensive and easy to change, so just take care of it every year. Same thing with the fuel filter. I would suggest this is the most overlooked item to check. It should be part of a tune up kit and fairly easy to change.
Sharpen the blade, properly. Here’s a checklist.
- Disconnect spark plug
- Flip mower up and keep carburetor side up to avoid getting oil in it
- Mark the blade to make sure it goes back on the same way
- Take single bolt out of the middle of the blade, be careful and use proper tools
- Sharpen with a file or grinder to ‘butter knife’ sharp. Too sharp will actually dull quicker. And careful with a grinder, it might heat up the blade and ruin it. Also, only sharpen one side, the top side. 50 strokes with a sharp, 10 inch file should do it.
- Balance the blade by hanging it on the wall, should be level to the ground. If not, shave some more off the heavy side
- Put blade back on securely
The guidelines listed here will allow your mower to operate as efficient as possible. A sharp blade spinning at max rpm’s is the goal. We will get into mowing techniques in a later post as the spring nears, but the best techniques are useless if the mower is just damaging the grass. This is step one.