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How to Prepare Your Lawn Mower for Spring

The temperatures are warming and spring is quickly approaching. We know you’re looking forward to the satisfying smell of freshly cut grass, but before you head out for that first mow of the season, make sure your lawn mower is ready to deliver your best cut all season long with these simple guidelines.

Sharpen the Mower Blades

Cutting grass with a dull blade will take more time and effort than working with a sharp blade. A dull blade can also tear and weaken the grass, which can lead to fungal growth or diseases that may spread throughout the lawn. We recommend sharpening your zero-turn lawn mower blades after every 20-25 hours of use, however this time frame depends on how often you mow and how many hours you spend on your mower.

How to Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades

  1. Read the safety instructions and the procedure instructions in the unit's operator's manual.
  2. Remove the mower deck according to the instructions in the operator's manual.
  3. Remove the blades according to the instructions in the operator's manual.
  4. File or grind an equal amount of blade material from each cutting edge until sharp. Do not change the angle of the cutting edge or round the corner of the blade.
  5. Slide the blade onto an unthreaded bolt and hold the bolt horizontally. Position the blade horizontally and check for blade balance (this is critical). If the blade moves, sharpen the heavy end until the blade remains balanced in a horizontal position on the unthreaded bolt.
  6. Once the blade is sharpened and balanced adequately, reinstall it under the mower deck and torque it to the specification listed in the operator's manual.
  7. Reinstall the mower deck.
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Clean the Mower Deck

Consistent use of your lawn mower over time will lead to a buildup of grass and other organic material within your lawn mower deck. An unkept lawn mower deck will reduce the effectiveness of the grass blades and the mower’s overall performance. It could also leave lawns at risk of harmful diseases, as cutting a blade of grass leaves it vulnerable to infection.

You can prevent buildup within your lawn mower deck by removing any excess grass, leaves, or other debris that are clogged and caked in the deck. If you often work with harsh chemicals and herbicides, that can deteriorate the metal on your lawn mower over time, so regularly cleaning your equipment (especially your mower deck) will help prevent rust and slow down general wear and tear. 

We recommend cleaning your lawn mower deck at the start of each mowing season, periodically throughout the season, and at the end of the season when you’re prepping your mower for winter storage. As a general guideline, it’s best to clean it as needed.

How to Clean a Lawn Mower Deck

  1. Remove the mower deck and blades as instructed in the operator's manual. The process will be different depending on your mower, but some mowers have easy-access features.
  2. Spray underneath the deck to remove loose clumped grass or dirt. Do not power wash your mower deck, as this could damage the equipment and cause corrosion. A regular garden hose on a higher-pressure setting will get the job done.
  3. Scrub the deck with a scrub brush or a cleaning cloth and a mild soap solution until all dirt, grass and debris is removed.
  4. Dry the mower deck thoroughly to protect its finish and prevent rusting.
  5. Reinstall the deck and blades as instructed in the operator’s manual.  

Change the Mower Oil

Regularly changing the oil in your lawn mower will keep the engine running smoothly and help extend the life of your mower. Your operator’s manual will indicate how often your mower engine needs to be changed. Check the level as well as the oil’s overall cleanliness – if the oil is black or contains debris, it’s time to change it.    

Lubricate Moving Mower Parts

Keeping your mower parts well lubricated will help your equipment perform better and last longer. Neglecting to lubricate moving parts will cause damage to critical components like bearings. All lubrication points for your mower can be found in the operator's manual. Be sure to wipe away any excess oil throughout the process.
 
Aside from applying a thin layer of oil to all pivot points and pin connections on the mower, there are typically only two or three lubrication points on a Gravely mower: caster fork bearings and caster wheel hubs.
 
Locate the grease fittings on the caster fork hubs and the caster wheel hubs. Pump grease into each fitting until grease squeezes past the bearing seals at the top of the caster fork hubs and on the sides of the caster wheel hubs. If seat adjustment slots are visible on the bottom of the seat, apply a small amount of grease to the seat adjustment tracks and move the seat back and forth to spread it along the tracks.

Replace Worn Lawn Mower Parts

Even the best-maintained lawn mowers need parts replaced after so many mowing hours. Check your operator’s manual for recommended replacement times for various parts. We recommend purchasing new parts from the Original Equipment Manufacturer, so your equipment continues to run like it was built to. Common parts that need to be replaced on lawn mowers include:
  • Spark plugs – Worn, dirty spark plugs decrease fuel efficiency and negatively impact performance. Check your operator’s manual to make sure you’re using the right spark plug for your mower.
  • Air filter – Dirty, clogged air filters reduce air circulation and causes fuel to burn less efficiently, which could choke out the engine. If your air filter is visibly dirty, it’s time to replace it.
  • Belts – Faulty lawn mower belts can damage your equipment. Worn, cracked, twisted, or loose mower belts need to be replaced. This step-by-step video walks through changing a mower belt.
  • Tires – Flat, worn, or compromised tires can cause damage to the rest of your mower and affect the quality of your cut. Check your mower’s tire pressure and replace any tires that need replacing.

Just like any other tool, it’s important to take good care of your lawn equipment to help it last as long as possible. Regular check-ups and maintenance will help you catch small problems before they become bigger ones. With these guidelines and tips, your lawn mower will be ready to tackle any job this mowing season.

Own a Gravely? Replacement and maintenance parts can be sourced from your local Gravely dealer
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