Rake, Mow, and Store

Theresa Friday
Extension Faculty: Horticulture
UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County Extension
tlfriday@ufl.edu

The cooler weather and shorter days have slowed the growth of our lawns.  Even though the grass may not need to be mowed every week, it does not mean we can put closure to our lawn mowing chores.

Mowing is an important cultural practice. Ensure that your mower is kept in good shape through proper maintenance. Photo Credits: Microsoft

Keep the lawn clear of fallen leaves.  This means either raking or picking them up with a mower. As we rake leaves from the lawn we often lift grass blades of unequal lengths creating an uneven turf canopy. Therefore, once the last leaves have been raked and the lawn has gone completely dormant, a final mowing slightly higher than the normal summer mowing height will leave a nice clean appearance to the turf canopy.

And once you have your leaves removed, think about performing some preventative maintenance on your mower.  Following are a few easy steps that will have your mower ready to go when the grass starts growing next spring.

  • Fuel only has a shelf life of about 30 days before it begins to break down. If near the end of a tank of gasoline, run the mower till it stalls. If you have a full tank, add some gasoline stabilizer and run the mower for a couple of minutes to distribute it throughout the engine.

  • Drain and replace the engine oil since dirt and other contaminates can settle and build up on the engine.

  • Remove the spark plug. Add a teaspoon of oil to the hole and replace the plug (but don't connect the wire). Crank or turn the engine by giving the cord a couple of pulls to distribute the oil. This will protect the engine from corrosion.

  • Clean the air filter. Foam air filters should be cleaned with warm soapy water or other appropriate solvent. Before replacing the filter, pour a couple tablespoons of clean engine oil on the filter and squeeze to distribute. Paper filters can be shaken or blown clean or just replaced with a new one.

  • Tighten fasteners and screws, bolts and nuts as needed.

  • Give the entire mower a good cleaning. Clean off all debris and remove grass clippings from the engine area and the underside.

  • If you have a battery, remove and clean. Charge if necessary and store in a cool, dry place where it won’t freeze.

  • If your mower is scratched or roughed up, paint these areas to prevent rust and corrosion.

  • Lubricate as necessary per the operator’s manual.

  • Store the mower in a dry place or cover the unit to protect it from the elements. Note: Never store the mower in the house (living area) or basement where ignition sources may be present such as hot water and space heaters, clothes dryers and the like because gasoline and fumes are highly flammable, explosive and dangerous if inhaled.

If you have equipment that has seen better days and you doubt that it will make it through another season, now is a great time to purchase new equipment.  Many dealers have some great bargains available.