One of the first signs of spring is lively growth from the grass in your yard. It’s the time of year when seemingly every weekend requires a trip around the yard with your lawn mower. In order to get the job done, you’ll want to make sure your lawn mower is up to the task. So grab your DIY hat and a few tools. Here’s how to get your lawn mower ready for spring.
Step 1 - Clean
Before you can really see what might need to be done on the lawn mower, you’ll probably have to clean it up. Use a soapy mix to remove any grease, oil, gas, and grass from the outside of the mower. Then flip it over and gently scrape away any residual debris from the underside. You don’t want to scratch the mower, so just scrape along the surface lightly. Knock any old grass, leaves, and weeds off of the blade too. Also, make sure the hand grip is clean by removing any grease or sticky substances. The tires might also need a mild scrub. If the grass bag was stored without a good cleaning, you will also want to spray out the inside of the bag, wiping or scrubbing lightly if necessary.
Step 2 - Evaluate
Once the machine is clean, evaluate the condition of all parts. Start the process by looking over the entire lawn mower. Examine the cord for wear, identify rust spots, and pull all levers to make sure they move efficiently. Flip the mower onto its side and manually spin the blade. Also check to see if the blade needs to be sharpened. Grab each nut with your hand and check to see if any of them need to be tightened. You don’t want parts flying off while you mow the lawn. Next, make sure the belts rotate freely and are not overly stretched out, cracked, or shredded.
Step 3 - Replace and Repair
Your mower will function better with a few new parts as you enter the heavy lawn growth season. Although it won’t need it every year, it’s important to put new parts on your lawn mower as they wear out, both for safety as well as for the efficiency of the mower and spring is the perfect time to do it. Replace the spark plug, air filter, blade, and power drive belt as needed. If you don’t have enough spark once you start the mower, you may need to tighten the spark plug or replace the spark plug wire. Also take a look at the fuel filter if your model has one. Finally, make sure each of the tires is full and ready to roll. If the blade looks dull, sharpen it with a file for the best cut. You can do this a few times each season. Simply remove the bolt that holds it in place, sharpen, remount, and ensure that the nut is tight. You can also take it to a professional or buy a replacement if the blade has taken a beating.
NOTE: Never store your mower over winter with gas in the tank. It can cause serious issues with your carburetor if dirty gas gunks it up. If last season’s gas is still in the tank, drain it and replace it before attempting to start the mower. Also drain out the old oil and replace it with fresh oil, premixed if your model calls for it (most don’t anymore). Use caution when adding oil. Find the fill line and be sure not to overfill it.
Step 4 - Adjust
It’s annoying and inefficient to stop several times while mowing, so make adjustments before you fire up the mower. Keep in mind that when the grass is thick and long at the beginning of the season, you will need to set the blade a good distance from the ground or the engine will bog down. Do this by lifting each of the four adjustments alongside the tires. If any cables, wheel bearings, or other moving parts are rusty or sticking, this is a good time to lubricate them.
Your lawn mower is a hard-working machine. Treat it right with a little seasonal love and it will be plowing through your spring grass with ease and efficiency.