June 2018 Blog

If You Must Mow… useful tips to avoid strife during grass-growing season

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer.” So goes the popular old Nat King Cole ditty celebrating the onset of summer. While green, manicured lawns are a source pride for home-owners during the short but much-loved summer season, they can also be a headache to maintain.

Yes, there are those lawn lovers who actually look forward to the weekly chore of mowing, mulching and manicuring. But if you’re anything like me, you’d rather spend your leisure time poolside, lakeside or busily involved in kayaking, sunbathing or swimming.

Which is what got me to thinking: whatever happened to the school-age kids who would eagerly knock on doors, looking for customers to add to their list of summertime lawn mowing, trimming and weeding business? 

Many kids are otherwise occupied with summer camps and family vacations; while other kids, who are more “tech savvy,” are opting to make money building websites or managing social media tasks for those of us who are more “challenged” in that arena.

So, what’s a person – who doesn’t love the lawn – to do about summer mowing and maintenance? Here are some important lessons I’ve learned the hard way about care and maintenance of lawn mowers.

Annual cleaning and maintenance of mowers and trimmers

One of the most annoying – and easily avoided – problems with your mower and edger/trimmer is leaving gas in it all winter, expecting the engine to magically “turn over” when you haul it out in late spring. Here are some ways you can insure a smooth and headache-free transition from spring thaw to summer mowing, just in case you haven’t already:

  • Make your life easy by draining your mower before storing it in the Fall. If you haven’t done this, be sure to drain and properly dispose of the old gasoline before attempting to mow.
  • Check the mower’s air filter and spark plugs, replacing them, if necessary, in the Spring. (For those of you who are mechanically “challenged,” this isn’t as daunting as task as it sounds and you can find online tutorials. Sears has an easy and great YouTube video.)
  • Refill your tank with fuel that is clean and fresh. Fuel can begin to deteriorate in as little as 30 days, so safely and responsibly dispose of old fuel that is still in your gas can.
  • Use A minimum of 87 octane/87 AKI (91 RON).
  • Gasoline with up to 10% ethanol (gasohol) or up to 15% MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), is acceptable. Some fuel stations are now selling gasoline with up to 15% ethanol. This E15 product is not recommended or approved for use in small engines.
  • Use a fuel stabilizer in your engine and in your gasoline can. This keeps gasoline from degrading and helps keep your engine running smoothly.
  • Store your lawn mower and your gasoline container in a clean, dry place, preferably in a garage or shed. Otherwise, you run the risk of dust, dirt, debris and moisture from rain and dew getting into the engine and causing the mower to sputter and stall.
  • FINALLY, if you have a hammock or something in your way as you’re mowing….don’t assume you can simply easily tip the mower up and roll over it.   Move the obstacle out of your way and then mow the area.  The sharp blades can cut grass and a metal hammock stand (yes…I have first-hand knowledge of this)!

So, happy lawn maintenance this summer and, if all else fails, check out Craig’s List or Facebook for a young entrepreneur – with his or her own mower – to cut your grass and cart away your clippings. Believe me, it might just be the best money you spend this summer.

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