As the vibrant colours of summer start to fade into the warm hues of autumn, it's time to shift our focus from mowing the lawn to preparing our lawn equipment for the changing season.
One essential tool in every homeowner's arsenal is the trusty lawn mower. To ensure it remains in tip-top shape and ready to go when spring returns, it's crucial to give it some attention in the fall. In this comprehensive 5-point guide, we'll walk you through the steps necessary to care for your mower during the autumn months.
- Cleaning and Inspection
Before you tuck your lawn mower away for the winter, give it a thorough cleaning and inspection. Over the summer, grass clippings, dirt, and debris can accumulate in and around the mower. This build-up can lead to corrosion and damage if left unattended.
a. Exterior Cleaning: Start by cleaning the exterior of the mower. Remove any grass clippings, dirt, or debris from the top, sides, and underneath the deck. A stiff brush or a putty knife can be handy for scraping off stubborn, dried-on grass.
b. Air Filter and Spark Plug: Remove and inspect the air filter and spark plug. If they are dirty or worn, replace them according to the manufacturer's recommendations. A clean air filter and a properly functioning spark plug are essential for the engine's performance.
c. Oil Change: Check the oil level and condition. If the oil is dirty or low, change it following the manufacturer's guidelines. Fresh oil will help protect the engine during the dormant months.
d. Blade Care: Sharpen the mower blade or have it professionally sharpened if it's dull. A sharp blade cuts grass cleanly, reducing stress on the engine. Also, check the blade for any signs of damage or wear and replace it if necessary.
e. Belts and Cables: Inspect the drive belts and control cables for signs of wear, cracking, or fraying. Replace any damaged components to ensure smooth operation in the spring.
- Fuel Management
Unused gasoline left in the mower's tank over the winter can lead to engine problems come spring. Here's how to manage the fuel in your lawn mower:
a. Drain the Tank: Ideally, you should run the mower until the fuel tank is nearly empty. Alternatively, you can use a siphon or turkey baster to remove as much fuel as possible.
b. Fuel Stabiliser: If you can't run the mower dry, add a fuel stabiliser to the remaining gasoline. This will prevent the fuel from deteriorating and causing carburettor issues during storage.
c. Start the Engine: After adding the stabiliser, start the mower and let it run for a few minutes. This ensures that the stabilised fuel makes its way through the carburettor and into the engine.
- Storage Preparation
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the longevity of your lawn mower and preventing damage during the winter months.
a. Shelter: Store your mower in a dry, sheltered location like a garage or shed. If you don't have access to such a space, consider investing in a mower cover to protect it from the elements.
b. Elevation: Store the mower on a raised platform, like a pallet or wooden blocks, to prevent moisture from damaging the mower's undercarriage.
c. Disconnect the Battery: If your mower has a battery (common in some electric or riding mowers), disconnect it to prevent it from discharging over the winter.
d. Store Upright: If possible, store your mower upright to prevent oil from seeping into the carburettor and causing problems when you start it up in the spring.
- Winter Maintenance
Even during the off-season, it's essential to perform periodic maintenance to ensure your lawn mower remains in good condition.
a. Occasional Start-Up: On mild winter days, start the mower and let it run for a few minutes. This helps keep the engine components lubricated and prevents fuel system issues.
b. Check Tire Pressure: Ensure that the mower's tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can cause flat spots and damage the tires over time.
c. Lubrication: Lubricate any moving parts, such as the wheels and handle joints, with a silicone-based lubricant to prevent rust and corrosion.
- Spring Readiness
As winter gives way to spring, it's time to prepare your lawn mower for the upcoming mowing season.
a. Reconnect Battery: If you disconnected the battery, reconnect it and ensure it's fully charged.
b. Fresh Fuel: Drain any remaining stabilised fuel from the tank and refill it with fresh petrol.
c. Maintenance Check: Before using the mower, perform a thorough inspection to ensure everything is in working order. Check the oil, air filter, spark plug, and blade. Replace any parts that show signs of wear.
d. Test Run: Start the mower and let it run for a few minutes to make sure it's running smoothly. Adjust the cutting height and any other settings to your desired specifications.
Properly caring for your lawn mower during the autumn months is essential to ensure its reliability and longevity. By following this 5-point guide, you can keep your mower in top condition throughout the off-season and ensure it's ready to tackle the first grass-cutting tasks of spring. Remember that a well-maintained mower not only saves you time and money in the long run but also contributes to a healthier, more beautiful lawn.
Don't change your lawn, just change how you care for it.
Phil - Founder of The All Gardening and The All Gardening Cafe
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