Originally published on May 4, 2020.
With lawn mowing season in full-swing, I have one quick question for you, did you tune up your lawn mower this past fall or winter? Mower maintenance is crucial to making sure you have little to no issues with your mower during mowing season.
Just like your vehicle, your small engines need the proper care and maintenance to run efficiently throughout their lifetime. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your mower will run smoothly throughout this mowing season. For starters, each time you go to mow your lawn, make sure to check your oil. If you have not changed your oil in a while, you may want to consider changing both your oil and oil filter. Consult your owner’s manual to see the interval (typically the done by hours) between oil changes.
Engine oil dipsticks are used to make sure your oil level is at the correct level for your engine.
Next you will want to check your air and fuel filters. If you have had your mower for several years, this is something you should consider changing. If these filters are clogged it will reduce the amount of fuel and air flow to the engine causing it to run poorly. Again, you should always check your owner’s manual for your mower’s maintenance schedule.
Visually check your fuel filter to make sure it does not need to be changed.
Besides for the engine, the blade is the most important component to your lawn mower. The blade is something that should be inspected regularly to make sure it is both sharp and balanced. The blade will eventually wear down due to normal wear and tear. When you blade is dull, it makes an unclean cut on your lawn. If you notice your blade is dull your blade should either be changed or sharpened but remember to follow your owner’s manual for all safety requirements when working to remove your blade, and do not do more than you feel comfortable doing. Safety is always our number one goal.
When checking your blade, you need to make sure that it is not only sharp but at the proper height. Most mowers have different settings for deck height. Some mowers even have the measurements labeled for the height of the mower blades directly on the mower. It is important to check this height several times throughout the mowing season. To check the mowing height, first make sure all tires are filled to the same air pressure and that your mower is on level ground. You can purchase a deck leveling gauge or use a tape measure to make sure all sides of the mowing deck are level.
Mower deck leveling tools can aid in making sure your mower blades are level and at the correct height on your lawn mower.
Most of our southern lawns consist of Bermuda, Centipede, or St. Augustine grasses. Each of these types of grasses should be mowed at different heights to improve their overall quality. St. Augustine grass should be mowed between 2-3 inches in height, where Bermuda and Centipede grass should be mowed between 1-2 inches. If you mow your lawn shorter than what is recommended for your type of lawn it is considered scalping. Scalping your lawn causes added stress to your lawn, and will invite unwanted pests such as diseases, insects, and weeds. Maintaining a healthy lawn is the best way to keep these things out of your lawn, and the easiest step is to make sure you are mowing your lawn at the proper, recommended height.
If you are like me, mowing the lawn is relaxing and instant gratification. However, if you wait too long between your mower maintenance, mowing the lawn could be just another unwanted chore. So, protect your mower by keeping up the maintenance based on your mower’s owner’s manual. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Mark Carriere, Associate County Agent, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Pointe Coupee Extension Office at (225)638-5533. More information on this and other topics can be found at the LSU AgCenter website.