Lawn Mower Care and Maintenance

The mower is, of course, at the centre of lawn maintenance – but despite its important role, it doesn’t always get the best of care itself.

Keeping your lawn mower in good shape obviously means it is easier to use and hopefully makes for a better-looking lawn too, but it also can save you a good deal of time, effort and money in the long-run. Mower care doesn’t have to be a huge job; in fact, it’s probably one of the best examples of that old saying that “a stitch in time, saves nine.” Timely routine maintenance can avoid many of the inconveniences and potentially costly consequences of a broken-down machine and while it won’t guarantee that your mower will live forever, it will certainly help you get the best out of it for as long as you can.

Inevitably a lot of the detail depends on the type and make of mower you have bought for yourself, but here are a few general points that should help, whether you’re pushing a hand cylinder, hovering electrically, or riding on a petrol driven mini-tractor.

Clean and Check

While the big service is probably a once a year event, routine cleaning and checking is a job for every week – and often twice weekly when the grass is growing really quickly and you’re cutting more frequently.

The important areas to concentrate on are the blades themselves, rollers or wheels, the grass box, canopy and mountings and any exposed cogs or drive parts. If yours is a powered lawn mower, ensure it’s switched off, and either un-plugged or the spark-plug lead removed before putting your hands anywhere near the blades. It seems an obvious (and perhaps even slightly patronising) point to make, but unexpected start-ups do happen and even professional Health and Safety consultants have been known to get themselves injured as a result of forgetting this – so no apologies for saying it again!

Thoroughly clean the mower with a stiff-bristled brush, making sure to shift all the grass clippings and any caked-on soil, dry off and then lightly rub with an oily rag to protect it until next time.

Simple Maintenance

Use this opportunity to examine the blades carefully to see if there are any signs of damage or wear, paying particular attention to the bolts or fixing screws that hold the whole assembly together. Slightly blunted blades or rotary cutting bars can be sharpened with a metal file, but it’s not a particularly easy job and anything too far gone will probably require replacement by a dealer or service mechanic.

This is also an ideal time to check that bolts holding the mower’s rollers, wheels and handles are tight and the height of the cut is set correctly and is still appropriate for the state of your lawn. If you make these adjustments now, you’ll save the time later instead of having to go searching through the long grass when a nut flies off.

Pick the Right Time

For most of us, the best time to clean and check over our lawn mowers is probably just after finishing the mowing, but, of course it’s not always convenient. It doesn’t really matter when you do – just make sure it’s in good time and not immediately before you’re about to mow. There are few things quite so irritating as having to waste a dry and sunny hour on making a few necessary repairs, only to find that by the time you’ve done all that, it’s pouring down with rain and you can’t cut the grass after all.

As a final point about picking the right time, do think well ahead about repairs and servicing if you possibly can. If you do notice any problems, especially as you prepare to put your mower away for the winter, don’t put off fixing things until next spring when the grass has already started growing. Book a timely service now, while it’s fresh in your mind, or risk having to join a long queue of people who also forgot all about their lawn mower troubles and are now clamouring for help too!

Like every other garden tool, lawn mowers come in a range of qualities and some of the best kinds really do seem to go on forever. A good care regime won’t automatically mean that yours will – but there’s no quicker way to ensure that it will not than by failing to give it a little simple maintenance. Looking after your lawn mower isn’t particularly difficult – and it’s certainly time well spent.

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