There’s more to mowing your lawn just turning on your mower. A mower that’s not properly maintained will have years taken off its life and could cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Rob Thomson, our State Grounds Manager QLD, provides some simple tips to help you get the most out of your mower.
by Rob Thomson
Keep it clean. After each use of the mower, give it a quick brushing off with a gloved hand, rag or whisk broom – you can also use a hose. It’s a good idea too, after the mower has stopped running completely, to reach under the deck with a gloved hand and do a quick brushing off or hose off any caked grass under the deck and on the blade.
Give the mower a good cleaning prior to its winter’s rest. With the gas tank empty, turn the mower on its side. Remove any debris that may be wrapped around the blade or caked up on the underside of the mower deck. Spray the underside of the mower deck hard with a garden hose to loosen dirt and dried-on grass. Scrub with a soft brush and soapy water, then rinse.
Clean or replace the air filter once or twice a year, especially prior to the winter. Replace paper filters when they look dirty (keep a few on hand) and see your local mower shop for supplies. Always ensure you have the right filter for your brand and make of mower. Plastic foam filters should be removed and washed with warm, soapy water and air dry thoroughly. Then work about 2 tablespoons of clean mower oil evenly across the filter to lightly coat it.
After you’ve used the mower for the last time at the end of the growing season empty the fuel tank by letting the engine run until it’s out of fuel. Leave the fuel tank empty until spring. With the fuel tank empty, remove the oil fill cap (if applicable) and turn the mower over to drain the engine oil into a suitable container for recycling. If your mower has an oil drain plug, use that instead of turning the mower on its side. Refill the engine oil reservoir per your mower manufacturer’s recommendations and replace the oil fill cap and dry thoroughly. Then work about 2 tablespoons of clean mower oil evenly across the filter to lightly coat it.
You can replace the spark plug once a year and before you put your mower away for the winter. Disconnect the spark plug wire, then remove the existing spark plug with a spark plug socket (usually supplied when purchasing the mower or pliers). To ensure you purchase the right replacement plug, write down the code on your existing plug, consult your mower’s owners manual, or just take the old plug with you when you go to purchase a new one. Screw in a new plug and reconnect the spark plug wire.
Keep the blade sharp and these should be assessed during the winter maintenance. A dull mower blade cuts unevenly and shreds the tip of grass blades, which then turn brown and give a lawn a beige cast that makes it look dry. The ragged ends are also good entry points for disease. Look for blades that are completely solid. Now is a good time to remove blades and give them a sharpen and to also ensure nuts and bolts that attach the blades are not showing signs of being worn.
These basic winter lawn mower maintenance steps will ensure you get many years of service from your lawn mower and can reduce maintenance costs during the life of the mower by at least half.