At last. Winter is over, and spring is threatening to burst from its constricting jacket of grey and gloom. As your landscape begins to wake from its slumber, your thoughts drift over to the shed and your old friend and partner in lawn care, the mower.
But before you re-acquaint yourself with the joys of the great outdoors, and set about refreshing and refurbishing your poor neglected lawn, there are a few little tasks you would be well advised to carry out first.
Hopefully, you have kept your mower well protected from the harmful breath of winter, sheltered and dry. If you have, great! Time to start.
It is always worth reviewing your operator’s manual for safety tips specific to your lawn mower. Once you have done that here are a few tips for what to do before your mower’s first post-winter outing.
Check It Over Thoroughly
Give the mower a once over. Check everything to make sure the mower is in proper operation. Check nuts, bolts, rivets, belts, wheels, axles and cables to make sure all is as it should be. Make a note of anything amiss as you go, so you can order any parts you might need or fix what needs fixing.
You may well have done this before you stored your mower for winter, in which case take a minute to congratulate yourself and have a cup of tea. However, if you didn’t, now is the time to get out a cloth, brush, water and some sort of harmless soap product to make sure there is no grime, oil, mud or anything else stuck to the surfaces or the deck and blades.
You can seriously undermine the performance of the mower if you don’t keep the blades, deck and outflow clean. For example, you allow a build up of moisture from grass and mud that could lead to rust.
Make sure you dry all parts of your mower thoroughly after cleaning.
If you left fuel in the tank (and I hope you didn’t) then you need to empty the tank and properly dispose of the old fuel. Most modern fuel will not last the winter and can cause problems with your engine if you try to use it Although stabiliser can be used to keep fuel fresh, as long as you put it into the tank before you store it. If you contact your local council they can either recycle it or tell you who can.
If you didn’t change your oil when you put your mower to bed now is the time to give your old four-wheeled friend a fresh start and some brand new oil. Find the oil plug and drain the oil thoroughly before you replace it. Do try to dispose of it carefully. Put your postcode into the search box on this website http://www.oilbankline.org.uk/ and it will give you the address of your nearest oil bank who will happily recycle it for you.
Check that your carburetor is clean, as stale fuel left in it can affect starting and performance.
Oil or lubricate any moving parts, including wheel bearings, hinges and joints. And, don’t forget the blade spindle on some mowers. Make sure you wear strong protective gloves when going near the spindle.
Check and Sharpen Your Blades
A season of use will almost certainly have blunted your mowers blades to some extent. Possibly you have never sharpened them, in which case you will be surprised at how much better your cut will be when you do. Blunted blades can do damage to grass, and this can lead to a less lush, less healthy lawn.
If you are not confident about sharpening, you can take the mower to a service centre to get it done for you. Ideally, you should sharpen them at least a couple of times a season, but this first sharpen is probably the most important.
Make sure you wear strong protective gloves when carrying out any maintenance or cleaning near the blades.
Check to make sure the spark plug is clean, and replace if necessary.
Much of the above is relevant to petrol mowers; however, it’s important to also do a general check of moving parts, rivets, the blade and cleaning on an electric mower.
With an electric mower you should also check to make sure the plug, fuse and cables are in proper running order, and not cracked, damaged or dry before using the mower.
The same goes for a cordless mower. Carry out the same check of parts, and clean mower surfaces and the deck.
Check the contacts and make sure they are clean, check the battery and charge it.
That’s it. With all the work you have done, you should find that your mower starts well and performs at its best. All being well, your mower now be should be clean, tuned and ready to mow through the season.
Oh, and don’t forget to check your mower into a service centre at least once a year. This will ensure it’s in top condition and extend your warranty. Happy mowing!