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How to Quickly and Easily Give Your Mower a Tune Up

Part of having a beautiful lawn is performing the proper maintenance on your lawn mower. A regular tune-up will ensure your motor runs smoothly and prevent against costly repairs in the future. You don't need to take your lawn mower to a specialist for a tune-up, in fact by following the instructions below you can do your own tune-up right at home.

Change The Oil and Air Filter

Keeping your mower running smoothly and efficiency means regularly changing the oil and air filter. You should start by reading your owner's manual to see what type of motor oil your mower requires. It's typically going to be 4-Cycle or 2-Cycle. When you have the new oil ready to go it's time to drain the old oil from your mower.

You should have an oil basin and a backing tarp or newspaper material to catch spills. Turn the mower on its side and pull the drain plug. Let all the oil seep out into the basin, making sure to consistently change the tilt angle to get out as much used oil as possible. Next, lock the drain plug securely back into its place and flip the mower back on its wheels. Add the new oil to the motor.

There are two types of air filters. There are paper filters which are quite simple to change. You loosen the cover screw and replace the old filter cartridge with a new one. The second are foam air filters. You want to remove the screw holding it in place and pull out the foam filter. You will need to clean the metal parts that the filter surrounds. The foam air filter should be saturated in a light coating of fresh motor oil and then installed.

Replace The Spark Plug Each Year

Changing the spark plug once a year will ensure your motor is working at its most efficient level. Take the cap wire off of the spark plug. Use a pair of pliers or a wrench to unscrew the plug. You can typically get the size of the plug off of the side of it or in the lawn mower's owners manual. Screw the new spark plug in place and reinstall the cap wire.

Sharpen The Blade

Keeping your lawn mower blade sharp will ensure you always get the cleanest cut. Twice a year you should sharpen the blade. Try to do this at times your mower is low on fuel as you will be tipping it over for an extended amount of time. Remove the blade and check it for bending or breaks. If there are any breaks or if the blade is bent it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, sharpen the blade, ensure it's balanced, and reinstall it on the mower.

Clean Out The Carburetor

Overtime a buildup of outside debris, like grass and twigs, can cause reduced performance of your lawn mower's engine. Using a simple carburetor cleaner every few mows on the outside of the carburetor will prevent debris buildup.

Every so often it's a good idea to pull the carburetor off the mower and thoroughly clean the inside. There is typically a couple bolt that holds it in place. Once you remove it from the mower be sure to put the carburetor on old newspaper or cardboard to collect any excess gas that is still inside.

Take the carburetor apart. It will split into two pieces. Spray the carburetor cleaner throughout the inside of these pieces to remove grime and dirt buildup. Once done use a rag to wipe out the inside of the carburetor bowl and reinstall the carburetor onto the mower.

Doing a lawn mower tune-up at home is something that every homeowner can do. By following these simple steps listed above you can greatly increase the life of your mower and the health of your lawn.

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3 Lawn Maintenance Tips for Winter

If your winter climate is cold and snowy, you may not be focused on your grass when October and November approach. But before the harsh conditions set in, there are three simple but vital things you can do to protect and enhance the health of your grass.

(1) Fertilize before the first freeze

There are four step lawn fertilizers on the market for good reason. While most concentrate on their lawn's appearance and health in the spring, summer, and early fall, it is also important to fertilize the lawn before the first freeze. Fertilize between September and November with a winter formula so the grass is hearty enough to endure winter by increasing stem strength and building disease resistance. An added benefit of fertilizing before the first frost is that the fertilizer stays in the soil throughout the entire winter, continuously feeding and nourishing the roots of the grass.

(2) Mow on a low setting

In the early summer, it is a constant race between you and your lawn. It seems as though it visibly grows as soon as you finished mowing so the desire to cut it shorter to stay ahead of the growth is strong. However, at the end of the summer, when the grass has slowed its growth, it is important to change your mowing strategy. Instead of cutting the grass drastically short each time, you should gradually adjust the setting to a lower one each time. If you wait until the cool weather to cut all the grass at once, it can shock the grass which may affect how it weathers the winter.

Conversely, don't let the grass tall for the winter thinking it will help it weather the harsh conditions. Mice and other burrowing animals will take advantage of the tall grasses to build their winter homes which could create a lot of dead spots and damage as spring approaches.

(3) Keep unnecessary traffic to a minimum

Short, brown, brittle winter grass is often used as a walking path in the winter months without much thought as to how a fragile, worn path will recover in the spring. Keep snowy and icy sidewalks clean so pedestrians will not be tempted to walk through your yard in the winter.

In addition to foot traffic, lawn furniture, logs, toys, and leaves should be removed from the lawn before winter approaches. The presence and weight of these items on the lawn can create dead spots that will experience stunted growth in the spring.

While not just a winter lawn tip, please remember that you should never allow vehicles to park on your lawn, no matter how small they may be. The tire impressions in the soil will most definitely kill the grass underneath and enable the rapid growth of crabgrass and other weeds.

Abiding by these three simple but effective tips will increase your chances of enjoying a healthy lawn during all of the seasons of the year while making your early spring lawn the envy of the neighborhood.