Five steps to prep your mower and yard for spring

With weather warming up after the long winter, it’s time to get back outside and start working in the yard again. Before you fire up the mower for the first cut, it’s important to prepare the unit with a few maintenance steps.

“If you didn’t properly winterize your mower last year, it’s important to spend time at the start of the season with your equipment,” says Jessica Gardner of MTD Products Inc, a global manufacturer of outdoor power equipment. “This will prevent many common malfunctions, keep it running better, and help prolong the life of the mower.”

MTD suggests five simple steps to help prepare your mower for its first run of the season.

Clean the mower deck. It’s important to clean the grass and debris buildup from under the mower deck and on the cutting blades at frequent intervals in order to prevent clogging and to improve cutting performance. Do not use sharp instruments to clean the deck, always wear safety glasses, and make sure the spark plug wire is removed from the spark plug before performing any maintenance.

Change the air filter and oil. In order for your mower to run at its optimum level, you must change the oil and air filter once a year.

Replace or clean spark plugs. Your spark plugs should be replaced when you notice rust forming around them; however it’s important to clean them on a regular basis. If you don’t replace or clean the spark plugs, the mower will not function properly.

Sharpen or replace mower blades. In order to get the best cut possible, sharpen or replace the blades. You can use a metal file to sharpen blades, but if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, take it to your local hardware store.

Use fresh gas and fuel stabilizer. Old gas can clog the engine, which can cause major system damage to your mower. Be sure to use up or empty gas at the end of the season and start with a fresh tank every 30 days. Always use a minimum of 87 octane gas with no more than 10 percent ethanol and add fuel stabilizer to your gas can at every refill to protect your mower from problems that can be caused by today’s ethanol-blended fuels.

“Just a simple tune-up at the beginning of the season can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 percent and emissions by up to 50 percent,” says Gardner. “These few simple steps will keep your mower running at peak performance season after season.”

Now that the mower is ready to use, here are a few more tips to help your green thumb jump-start into spring.

Clean your yard of debris. After all the snow has melted and your lawn is dry, rake your yard to get rid of the dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris, so the grass can grow more easily.

Weed away. Try to spot weeds early, as they grow more vigorously at the beginning of spring.

Create a planting checklist. Check which flowers grow best in your soil and weather conditions. Make sure the timing is right as most annuals don’t tolerate frost well, but it’s also usually bestto plant as early as possible to ensure successful growth.

Repair cracks to fences or pathways. Repair any cracks or damage to your fences or pathways that might have developed during the winter. Also, if your fence needs repainting, do it before the summer heat hits.

Sharpen tools. Make sure to sharpen your gardening tools because, like your mower blades, they get dull during the course of the year. To sharpen, add clean oil, such as vegetable oil, to a bucket of sand and stick the sharp end of your tools in and out of the bucket several times.

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