Tips and Tricks

Lawn Care and Mower Maintenance Tips

It's a good time to check the oil, sharpen the blade, and replace parts!

Fuel comes first. Any gas in your walk-behind mower’s fuel tank? If you added stabilizer before the winter, you should be able to start the mower right up. Similarly, if you ran the mower dry last fall, you can add stabilized gas now. Otherwise, siphon out the degraded gas before adding new. Tractors, with their larger engines, are less susceptible to fuel problems. Still, fuel up with gas to which you’ve added stabilizer.

Check or change oil. If you didn’t change the oil at the end of last season, do it now—a mower can overheat and fail prematurely from dirty or insufficient oil. For a mower, change the oil when the fuel tank is empty to avoid spilling. Position an auto-style drain pan beside the mower on the side of the dipstick cap. Remove the cap and tip the mower over the pan to drain the oil. Refill to the dipstick marking. A tractor needs an oil change only as specified in your manual. At the very least, check the level and add as necessary.

Sharpen those blades. Dull blades rip rather than slice the grass, and that makes your engine work harder than it needs to. To remove your mower’s blade, wear heavy leather gloves, remove the spark plug wire, and jam in a short 2x4 to keep the blade from turning as you loosen the bolts.

Mind the electrical. Your spark plug needs changing about every 100 hours of operation; if not, it can affect engine startup and overall performance. If you don’t know when you last changed it, do it before using the mower. With the mower off, remove the spark-plug cap and use a socket wrench with a spark-plug socket to remove the old plug. Take it to Joe's Small Engine and get a new one. For a tractor, most manuals instruct you to keep the battery indoors on a trickle charger. If you didn't, fully recharge the battery before starting the season, or you’ll reduce battery life. The engine alone can’t fully recharge the battery.

Change or clean filters. A dirty air filter may prevent your mower or tractor from starting. On your mower, it’s paper and can be removed in seconds. Take the old one to Joe's Small Engine if you’re not sure which one to get. For a tractor, replace your carburetor’s air filter if it’s paper. If it’s foam, wash it in soap and water. Rinse and squeeze it dry. Some manuals suggest you also oil a foam filter with engine oil. If so, squeeze the filter dry again before you reinstall it. Tractors have a fuel filter, too. Check your manual for the proper maintenance schedule and procedure.

Carburetor Maintenance: The carburetor is an integral part of your small engine, so it’s important to keep it running smoothly for the overall health of your lawn mower and other outdoor power equipment. You can clean the main fuel jet with carburetor cleaner and compressed air to blow out loosened debris. Carburetor cleaner dissolves deposits in your carburetor and choke, and consequently, can reduce your need for maintenance, repair, and downtime, while improving starting for all 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. Carburetor cleaner can be found at Joe's Small Engine of Pine Bush or your local outdoor power equipment dealer.

Tips from the Pros on Growing the Greenest Lawn

Whether you’re the defending champion of the greenest lawn or looking to step up your game this season, making your neighbors green with envy couldn’t be easier and Joe's Small Engine of Pine Bush is here to help. Check out the following tips from the pros that will set you up for nothing but success:

Stay hydrated. From when the lawn is first planted until the shoots start to show, keep the top half inch of the soil moist.

Don’t be blunt. Make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp so you get a clean cut every time. You can stop by your local dealer to ensure your blades are ready for cutting.

Keep some length. Remember not to cut the grass too short. With a grass level from 5 to 9 cm you will have a fine, sustainable lawn.

Less is more. Don’t remove more than a third of the top growth in a single cutting.

Keep the mulch. Leaving the clippings not only eliminates your time spent bagging, but it actually fertilizes the soil and lawn. Just be sure to have a mower with an easily adjustable cutting height as longer clippings smother the grass.

Avoid watering at night. Be sure to let the grass dry out before the dew falls, since extended moisture invites disease. The best time to water is pre-dawn or early morning.

Cut it out. Get rid of any weeds as early as possible. The best defense against pests, weeds and diseases is to grow thick, vigorous turf.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Chainsaw

  • Employing the correct techniques when you use the saw makes your work a great deal safer and easier
  • Be sure to use approved protective equipment like safety trousers, safety boots, helmet with visor and hearing protection and gloves
  • A light saw is easier to handle if you’re not too experienced
  • Ergonomic engineering and design. Low vibration levels in the handles, a slim and well balanced saw body are welcome features, even if you only use the saw part-time. Good ergonomics can be just as important as low weight
  • Efficient kickback protection is a requirement in most countries. Also pay attention to small details, for instance how easy it is to replace a chain catcher stud that has been broken off and easy access to controls
  • Is the saw easy to maintain and service? Good access to the air filter and spark plug, and easy chain tensioning save time and effort
  • Your saw will appreciate regular service by a qualified professional