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Mower maintenance and tips for a better lawn

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts, Radio

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The Handyguys interview Mike Ballou,  product Manager for John Deere, and discuss Mower maintenance and the best way to care for your lawn.

Mower maintenance

Proper mower maintenance is critical for having a healthy green  lawn.  Do not begin this new mowing season without changing the oil, sharpening your blades, lubing the joints and checking filters and spark plugs.  Your mower manual will provide all the details you need for proper mower maintenance.

Mower maintenance includes blade sharpening

Mike provides detailed instructions on:

  • Mowing heightDeere riding mower cutting height level
  • blade sharpening and extra blades
  • removing a deck from your lawn tractor
  • Mulching vs bagging
  • mulching blades vs bagging blades vs all-purpose blades
  • adjusting the mower deck wheels on your riding mower deck for best cut (this is very interesting)

There is some good material here that the Handyguys have not covered previously. Check out the full podcast and start your lawn off on the right track this mowing season.

Mowing height

Mike’s suggestion to mow your grass is a good one. Set the height to one of the highest settings. This will help prevent disease, crowd out weeds, reduce watering and your lawn will look fuller all season long.

Blade sharpening and extra blades

We have been longtime advocates of using sharp blades. Mike provides another great tip. Buy an extra set of blades. If you have your blades professionally sharpened you can just swap on your sharp blades while you wait for your dealer to sharpened the dull ones.

Mulching vs bagging

Mulching is always preferable to bagging. The clippings add water and nutrients back into your lawn. The only time you shouldn’t mulch is if you have waited too long between mows and have extra tall grass.

When to mow

You should only remove about 1/3 of your blade height at one time. This will allow the mulching to work properly and will not stress your grass too much.

Blade Sharpening Video

You may also want to check out the video we did a while back on how to sharpen and balance your mower blade.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane April 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

This is a great post for newbie’s like me. I just got into my own house and have never done lawn mowing before. This post will come handy for me this spring. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

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Sam Home April 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

YES! Do not bag clippings, you are wasting a lot of future fertilizer. I don’t mulch as my neighbor does. My technique is to sort of start in the middle and work outwards, throwing the grass onto the uncut area. Next round, that gets “mowed” along with the grass. The effect is almost the same as mulching except for the middle. I do have a large yard that sets up well for this.

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Nick April 24, 2012 at 12:05 am

Blade sharpening is something I never seem to get right; in the end it always seems more dull.

I’ll give this method a shot!

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Simon April 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Awesome video for blade sharping. I typically do this by hand when it needs it. I am always having to sharpen my neighbors as well as he always leaves his mower out in the rain and the blades are always rusting!

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The Handyguys April 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks Simon!

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Hannah May 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

This post makes me want to smell fresh cut grass! Thanks goodness Spring is here… Great tips and pics!

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Wright Mowers May 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Great post with helpful tips for the novice and professional. It’s a common misconception that you should bag rather than mulch, but you’re right that that extra nutrient can really enhance any lawn. Commercial mowers can be really handy for folks on large lawns, or with mowing businesses. Hope you’ll check ours out to compare.

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The Handyguys May 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Checked out the website, nice stuff.

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Rick Waters May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Handy Guys,
Last season my 8 yr old craftsman riding mower started cutting closer with one blade than the other. At the end of the season I found that one stabilizer arm had been bent in a freak accident. I bent it back when I put the mower in storage for winter.
Now it’s still mowing very close on the same side. I’ve checked the mowing deck and it’s level to the ground (2.75″ on both sides), so I’m guessing it has something to do with how the blade on that side is mounted. Any ideas?

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The Handyguys May 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm

If the deck is level and the tires have correct air pressure then the likely issue is either a bend blade or bent deck (where the spindle attaches). If its a bent blade just replace it with a new one. The deck is expensive. You can take it off, put it on a flat surface and measure the blade to ground distance as you move the blade. You will see it is tilted at some point. Dont try pushing and pulling on the blade to straighten the spindle, you could break the spindle. The guys in the shop I use will use hammers to bang the deck back straight. They use auto body type hammers but anything heavy enough should do. Your goal is to get everything back straight and even between both blades, constant checking and re-checking is required. Or, just price out a new deck assembly. Good luck.

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Rick Waters May 29, 2012 at 10:13 am

Handyguys,
Thanks for the reply.
I removed the deck from the mower and it was not bent.
I knew neither of the blades were bent (because I inspect and sharpen them each spring), but removed and checked them anyway – no bends.
So, I went back to my original hypothesis – something holding the deck to the mower must be off. Turns out that the hangers that hold the deck to the mower are adjustable using a simple box wrench. After struggling with it for several minutes, I got it to move on the problem side.
I have yet to test the solution out, but will give another update when I do.

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The Handyguys May 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

Sounds like a plan – When you are making those adjustments, ensure you have the tires at the correct pressure and you are on a flat surface so you can get an accurate measurement.

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Liz Newey July 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

This is great! I have mowed my parents lawn many times and hope to soon have a yard of my own to tend to. I found this very helpful, and I wasn’t aware that you should set your mower to one of the highest settings for the health of the grass and what not. Having that spare set of blades that are sharp is always handy as well. Thanks for the great tips.

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Danny April 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I have the same mower and I’m having problems not getting power to be ble to mow,sounds as though its not getting enough gas an I checked the plug and it looks good. Any suggestions to what mite be my problem

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The Handyguys April 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

Yes – it could be a fuel line. try some seafoam
http://www.handyguyspodcast.com/the-handy-guys-store/?B001DKQOME

SeaFoam

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Albert W. Peters December 6, 2013 at 4:32 am

For long breaks, do not forget to add stabilizer to keep gas operational.

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