One thing is for sure – your lawn requires a lot of attention. It needs an adequate amount of water, healthy soil, and sunlight to survive. All of these factors are equally important, but another can determine how successful your grass is, and that is mowing. Knowing how to use a lawnmower and how short your grass can be cut is crucial to your turf’s growth.
Certain types of grass can tolerate a short trim, whereas others cannot. Generally speaking, warm-season grasses are more successful at shorter heights than cool-season grasses. They should reach a height of 2 inches and cool-season grasses perform better when kept at around 3 inches.
Even so, the appropriate height can vary between different types of grass that fall into the same category. For example, Bermuda grass can range from 0.5 to 2.5 inches, while Buffalograss can range anywhere from 1.5 to 4 inches in height. Both are warm-season grasses, but they do not share the same level of tolerance. This is why you should always familiarize yourself with your grass, so you know exactly what it needs to stay healthy.
For a look into different kinds of grass, check out this article on the Types of Grass for Your Lawn.
Operating your lawnmower is a fairly simple task, and having the right information will put you on track to get the job done correctly the first time around. Here are a few steps for how to use a lawnmower effectively, which will get you one step closer to your ideal lawn. What is a better way to welcome guests into your home than with a green and healthy yard?
Step #1: Choose the Right Model
If you have freshly installed grass, one of the first steps is to give your grass a new haircut after it reaches an appropriate height. But first, you have to purchase a suitable lawnmower. (Those who already have a lawnmower in their possession can progress onto step #2)
There are a few factors to consider when shopping for a lawnmower, and one is the size of your lawn. Smaller lawns may not require heavy-duty equipment as much as a more extensive lawn, as the latter needs to cover more area. Therefore, those with smaller lawns can suffice with a push mower, whereas larger lawns might need a riding mower.
A push mower is recommended for those with lawns that are less than an acre, and there are a lot of options in terms of power. Electric mowers are either corded or cordless, and the main difference between the two is that the latter does not require an extension cord. It is also not as restricting and can operate on a lawn with obstacles like trees, but it needs to be charged after use. Gas push mowers have a pull-to-start function and are much louder as a result. In addition, they need oil to operate and tend to come at a lower price.
For lawns that are more than an acre, riding mowers are a viable option that can be purchased with blades that vary in width. Due to their size, attachments can be placed on the rear of some riding mowers. These attachments allow lawn owners to spread seeds, store landscaping objects, and even dethatch with one tool.
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Step #2: Check for Wears & Tears
Once a lawnmower is left unused for an extended period of time, it may need to be inspected for upgrades. Gas mowers, in particular, will most likely require an oil change. A good indication for this is oil that has residue or has a much darker tint. Overall, oil should be changed at least twice a year. This is also true for the air filter, as debris can impact the performance of the mower.
For electric mowers, check the wires to see if they are frayed or tangled. If the cord is damaged, this suggests that the spark plug needs a replacement. Cordless mowers are battery-powered, so they might need a new battery after a few years.
Keep in mind that most issues that arise with your lawnmower can be repaired. In fact, some lawnmowers have a life expectancy of up to 10 years. In some cases, however, the damages are too severe, and one may need to look into purchasing a new one.
Step #3: Sharpen & Adjust Your Blades
Before you begin cutting your grass, you should make sure that the blades are sharp enough. Dull blades will pull grass, so you must check your blades to ensure that your grass will not become weak. For safety reasons, remove the spark plug prior to sharpening the blades. Also, wear protective gear such as gloves and eyewear.
To begin the process, place your lawnmower on its side and make sure the carburetor and air filter are visible. Then, carefully remove the blade and clean it with a cloth. Before sharpening the blade, check for any cracks or other damages. If any issues are apparent, then the blade should be replaced.
To sharpen the blade with a hand file, make sure to push the blade in one direction instead of back and forth. Also, sharpen the blade from the top side of the cutting edge and at an angle. After the first side is even, repeat this process on the other side. You should be able to accomplish this in less than 50 strokes of the file.
Next, check the balance of the blade by hanging it on a nail or purchase a blade balancer. If the sides are not evenly elevated, then the blade will need a few more strokes. Finally, reinstall the blade and connect your spark plug.
Once this is complete, adjust your lawnmower to the right height for your grass. This is to prevent you from unintentionally trimming too much, which is also known as scalping. Doing so will hinder your grass from growing deep roots and will also encourage weeds to grow instead.
The general rule of thumb is to cut ⅓ of your grass, so measure your grass before cutting. By doing this, you can determine whether your mower should be on the highest or lowest setting.
Read more: How to Get Lawn Maintenance Right.
Step #4: Begin Your Lawn-Mowing Journey
Now that you know how to use a lawnmower, it is time to put your trimmer to use and start snipping. But there are still a few tips to take note of when you are preparing to cut your grass.
For one, you should avoid having a routine when it comes to mowing your lawn. Growth patterns can vary, so you should only trim your grass when it reaches a desirable height. Also, it is best to mow your lawn when it is dry and not wet. The reason for this is that they are less likely to clump together when they are dry.
As indicated by the name, a push mower should always be moved forward instead of backward. You should change your mowing pattern occasionally as well because this promotes upward growth for your grass.
Last but not least, avoid mowing your lawn in the heat and trim higher in shaded areas that do not get as much sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions: How to Use a Lawnmower
Should I sharpen my blades or get professional help?
Although it is possible to learn how to sharpen your blades on your own, it can be a grueling process if you are unfamiliar with it. Therefore, you can visit any lawnmower retailers that also offer maintenance to ensure that it is done correctly. However, if you wish to save a few dollars, there are plenty of available resources that will teach you how to sharpen your blades safely.
What kind of safety precautions are necessary to mow my lawn?
Always make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and protective eyewear when operating your lawnmower. Also, protect yourself from the heat if you are mowing your grass in the summer. Before starting the mower, clear the area of debris and keep children and pets out of the area that will be cut. If you need to refuel your engine, wait until your lawnmower has time to cool off. Mowing your grass on a slope can be a challenge, so be sure to check your lawn mower’s model for more information on how to mow on a slope.
Are there any other issues that I may run into when operating my lawnmower?
In some cases, your lawnmower will have trouble starting. This is usually tied to having old gas, but may also be caused dirty air filter. Similarly, a dirty air filter can cause your lawnmower to lose power in the middle of mowing. That is why it is important to clean or replace your air filter when necessary. It is recommended that you replace your lawnmower’s air filter every three months to avoid running into these problems.
Your lawnmower may start to smoke as well, but this is a result of a full oil chamber or leaks in the oil chamber. Therefore, it is not as serious as it may appear to be. To solve this issue, turn off the engine and wait for it to cool before checking for leaks. If there are no visible leaks, then the next step is to tighten the cap, as it is possible for it to come loose. In the case that your lawnmower continues to emit smoke, replace the cap. However, if the smoke is a much lighter color, then you should have a professional look at your lawnmower.