One of the best tools on the market if you own a large piece of property is a riding lawn mower – click here for the best one. Unlike the considerable amount of time and effort involved in mower large lawns with a push mower, using a riding mower is quick and easy. Thanks to a faster mowing speed and a wider cutting deck than walk-behind models, riding mowers deliver crisp, professional results in a fraction of the time while being nearly effortless.
But before you hop on your new riding mower, it’s important to learn how to drive it properly and safely. While these tools are incredibly simple to operate, mastering their use for optimum safety and efficiency takes a little practice. So let’s discuss how to properly mow you lawn with a riding mower.
How Do I Mow My Lawn with a Riding Mower?
The first thing you need to do when you are about to mow your lawn with a riding mower for the first time is to check the gas and oil levels of your machine. You don’t want to damage the machinery or run out of fuel while operating it, so add any necessary fluids before starting. Next, you simply sit down on your riding mower and turn it on. For manual transmission models you will likely have to press the brake and clutch pedal down, most models use a dual purpose pedal that works for both of these actions, and turn the key or hit the start switch.
For automatic models, you will likely just have to press the start button or turn the switch on. For manual mowers, you might have to shift gears, but for automatic models you can just hit the gas pedal and drive forward at your desired speed. Then simply turn your steering wheel, like you would with a car, in the direction that you want to go. Once you’re at the point on your lawn that you want to start mowing, adjust the cutting height adjustment lever and engage the cutting blades by hitting the blade engagement lever or switch.
Now you can simply mow your lawn, steering as you go. Make straight paths with your mower from one end of your lawn to the other. Then simply turn around and mow in the opposite direction, slightly overlapping your previous path.
How Do You Get Stripes in Grass?
If you want to give your lawn those beautiful stripes that you see at stadiums and ballparks, a riding mower is perfect for the job. This effect is caused by light reflecting on bent grass blades. Lawn mower blades that are bent towards you appear darker while blades that are bent away from you appear lighter. The great thing about this technique is that it doesn’t only look impressive, it’s actually healthier for your lawn. To achieve this manicured look you need to equip your riding mower with a striping kit, basically a roller that bends the grass as you mow.
Once equipped, you will set your grass cut height a little higher than normal. This is because longer grass bends more easily, and is healthier, than short grass. With everything in place, mow a straight path from one end of your yard to the other. Make sure to travel in a perfectly straight line so that you avoid a wavy look. As you advance, the roller will bend the blades of grass in the direction that you are moving.
Once you reach the end of your path, simply make a U-turn, back up a bit to adjust your turning radius, and then turn tightly in the other direction. As you proceed making a path in the other direction, make sure that you overlap your original path by a few inches to avoid uncut patches that will ruin the appearance of your design. Mow your entire lawn with this technique and before long you will have a stunning striped pattern across your property that can rival what you see at any stadium, ballpark, or golf course.
How Do You Sharpen a Lawn Mower Blade?
Your riding mower is equipped with a cutting deck that holds one to three cutting blades that are used to cut your grass. These blades are flat and have a sharpened side on each end. Unfortunately, through both normal use and coming into contact with objects like rocks, branches, and roots, these blades can become dull. In order to maintain the performance of your riding mower and ensure a healthy, even cut is delivered to your grass, you should sharpen your riding mower’s blades periodically.
To sharpen your riding mower’s blades you first want to park your mower on a surface that is flat and level like a driveway. To get access to the blades, simply raise the cutting deck to the highest setting and then leave the mower in gear while engaging the parking brake. For safety, you can find the spark plug and pull the rubber boot that you find attached to its wire off and away from the spark plug’s tip. This will prevent your mower from accidentally starting.
Now, since you’ll be removing the blades, it’s a good idea to look under the deck and use a wax pencil to mark the bottom of the blade. This will allow you to re-install it correctly once you are done. Now, wedge a piece of 2×4 lumber between the mower deck and the blade and use a socket wrench to loosen and remove the spindle bolt that is in the center of your cutting blade. With the bolt removed, you can remove the blade and prepare it for sharpening.
First, use a wire brush to clean your blade, removing any rust, dirt, or debris from its surface. Then put the blade down on a flat work surface and allow the cutting edge to extend past the edge of this surface so that you can access it easily. Use a metal file to sharpen the blade by placing it flush against the cutting edge and filing it in downward strokes until the edge is restored. Then flip the blade over and perform the same movement on the other end of the blade.
Now, simply place the blade back under the mower deck with the wax pencil mark facing downwards. Put the spindle bolt back through the blade and into the spindle and hand tighten it. Use the 2×4 lumber scrap by placing it against the mower deck and pushing the blade against it. Use your socket wrench to tighten the spindle bolt. Once the blade is secured, you can reconnect the rubber boot to your sparkplug.