Your yard might be your pride and joy, but it also requires a lot from you, especially when it comes to mowing. Although it sounds like a straightforward chore, there is actually a right way and a wrong way to do it, and several things you need to keep in mind to prevent lawn mower damage.
Follow these simple tips to keep your mower and lawn up to snuff.
Maintain Your Mower
Like the vehicle parked in your garage, mowers need maintenance and inspection at regular intervals.
Always check the oil level before using, and change it as often as specified by the manufacturer. It may not have as many cylinders as a car, but it’s still an engine and it needs proper lubrication. For that matter, check all fluid levels regularly; you never know when you might have picked up a small leak.
Regularly clean or replace the air filter. With all that grass flying, it’s no surprise how quickly it gets clogged, and when that happens your mower will let you know by stalling out or failing to start altogether for lack of air.
Of course, a major way that a mower is not like a car are the massive spinning blades on the bottom. Keep these blades sharp to avoid damaging the lawn, but don’t sharpen them too many times because that poses a danger of breakage. It’s also important to look for signs that they’re bent, even slightly. If your mowed grass looks uneven or scalped, change the blades to avoid potentially destroying the bearings the blades rest upon.
The biggest risk of damage to your mower comes from hidden objects in the grass. Do a once-over of unfamiliar lawns to locate any potential stationary hazards like tree stumps, sprinkler heads or stepping-stones.
No matter how familiar you are with the lawn, do a preliminary walk over to remove large sticks, stones, toys or other objects that might have shown up since the last mow. This is an easier job when you keep the grass level and well maintained to begin with, so mow regularly (it’s also one of the best things you can do for the health of your lawn, generally).
One often overlooked part of proper lawn prep is the removal of weeds. Failing to do so may spread the seeds to other parts of the lawn when mowed over.
Depending on where you live, there may be seasons where your lawn mower doesn’t see a lot of use. If you want a reliable machine that lasts for years, don’t forget that storage is almost as important as maintenance. If you’re putting the mower away for a while, clean it first, and make sure it’s completely dry before storing it somewhere cool and protected from moisture.
If your mower is sitting for more than two weeks, drain the fuel. The ethanol present in gas mixtures absorbs water; over time it evaporates and leaves gunk and deposits in the fuel system that can wreak havoc on the engine.
It might sound like a hassle, but following these steps can add years to your investment and help give you the yard you deserve. When doing any kind of inspection or maintenance, follow all manufacturer safety instructions, disconnecting the battery, spark plug or enabling a blade lock function as specified.
Check out all the lawn & garden products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to prevent lawn mower damage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.