9 Mowing Mistakes Everyone Makes

What's the difference between your lawn and the one next door? If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it could be that you're making one of these cardinal mowing mistakes. We spoke to Greg Weekes, Product Marketing Manager at John Deere, who filled us in on some of the biggest mowing mistakes to avoid. So have a look and see if any of your bad habits is costing you a better looking lawn.

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  1. Buying the wrong mower


    You could be making a whole lot of extra work for yourself—all because you're using the wrong mower. For instance, a push mower slows things down on a large plot of land (over 1/2 acre). On the other hand, in a small yard (1/4 acre or less), a lawn tractor will only get in the way. When buying the right mower for your yard consider the size of your lawn, the terrain, how many trees you need to maneuver around. 

    Related:  Infographic - Get a Head Start on a Healthy Lawn


  2. Using dull blades


    One of the simplest solutions to a clean cut lawn is a fresh set of blades. Lawn mower blades wear down with use, just like a razor blade. You can tell when it's time to sharpen yours by looking at the grass blades themselves. Ragged, jagged, and torn grass is a sign the blade needs to be sharpened. Weekes recommends keeping a second set of mower blades in the garage and taking the dull set to a specialist to sharpen so you'll never have to wait to mow.

    Related:  No More Mowing - 10 Grass-Free Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn


  3. Running the mower at half speed


    Some folks mistakenly believe that running a riding lawn mower at full speed is bad for the engine and shortens the life of your machine. Not so of John Deere lawn tractors, says Weekes. In fact, there's an optimum blade tip speed on each and every machine and hitting a higher RPM on your engine means you'll get an even better cut.

    Related:  Ultimate Lawn Care Guide - 12 Steps to a Prize-Winning Lawn


  4. Cutting a wet lawn


    After a rainstorm, there are often plenty of tasks to do around the yard but mowing the lawn shouldn't be one of them. Not only can wet grass be slick (not ideal for mowing), the moist clippings are more likely to stick to and clog your mower. One of the best ways to eliminate the need to mow a wet lawn is to watch the forecast and mow ahead of schedule. If you normally mow on Saturdays but you're in for a rainy weekend, give the grass a haircut on Thursday or Friday, instead.

    Related:  7 Ways to Save Water in the Yard


  5. Not mowing enough


    Want to keep your lawn looking luxurious all summer long? Then cut it and cut it often. For the strongest, healthiest grass, you'll want to cut no more than one third off the top each time you mow. That means adjusting the blade height when necessary and never allowing the grass to grow too long. For most regions, mowing every few days in the summertime is just about the right amount.


  6. Not cleaning the mower


    Everyone knows that you're supposed to clean the underside of a mower after use—but many folks let this little chore slide. However, when you do just that you're actively shortening the life of your machine. Not only do clippings block proper airflow necessary for mulching or bagging clippings, but moisture and fertilizer traces can corrode the deck of the mower, causing premature rust and wear.

    Related:  Need a New Lawn Mower? 10 Top-Rated Grass Guzzlers


  7. Ignoring the maintenance manual


    If you treat your mower well it will return the favor. Consult your manual to determine how often you need to change the oil and filters. This simple bit of maintenance will do wonders for improving performance, extending the life of the mower, and making for a smoother running machine. Mark reminders on your calendar so you don't miss a crucial tune up.

    Related:  7 Tips to Keep Your Mower in Working Order


  8. Improper off-season storage


    The last thing anyone wants come springtime is finding that the mower won't start because of sticky, separated fuel in the tank. Not only is it frustrating to deal with, it's not great for the mower. Be sure to add fuel stabilizer to the tank before you stow it away for the season. Take a tip from Weekes and and run the mower for 10-15 minutes before park it in the shed.

    Related:  Organize Your Garden Gear with 11 Crucial Buys


  9. Ignoring safety protocol


    No matter what kind of mower you own, you're working with a powerful piece of machinery. Take proper safety precautions every time you mow by ensuring the discharge shoot is properly attached to the mower to prevent debris from flying up and hitting you. Even more importantly, mowing is not a family affair: Keep the little ones—and pets—inside while you mow. Then, after you're finished and the mower's put away, you can safely relax in the yard together, enjoying the sweet smell of clipped grass.


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