Texas is finally getting into the swing of winter. Time to get that lawn mower and other power equipment put away for the season.
Winter can be harsh on more than just people. It can be harsh on your lawn and your equipment as well. Whether it’s cold temperatures or actual snow and sleet, your lawn and equipment need to be protected in order to have a long life span of functioning well. Lawn equipment, especially a lawn mower, is a big investment. If not taken care of, they might not start back up when spring rolls around. Here are some tips that will help you give your lawn and tools the protection they need.
Prepping Your Lawn for Winter
- Remove debris. Take time to rake up the rest of those fall leaves. A think layer can actually smother your lawn, locking out light and air.
- Mow one last time. As a general rule, cut warm-season grasses to a height of one inch and cool-season grasses to a height of two inches. Anything higher can trap unhealthy moisture.
- Aerate. Your lawn can become impacted during the busy warm months, so to help it breath, aerate it in the late fall. You can either rent an aerating tool or hire a lawn maintenance service to do it for you.
- Seed bare patches. If you do it early enough, your lawn should fill in nicely before the ground freezes. To help improve germination, aerate.
- Add fertilizer. A sleeping lawn, still needs to eat, so don’t forget the fertilizer. Look for sustained-release products, which will ensure your lawn gets the nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, and partially blended sulfate.
- Water. Before the cold sets in, be sure to give your lawn one last drink. This will help activate the fertilizer.
- Drain sprinkler lines and shut off your system. Excess water can lead to frozen, and even broken, water pipes. If you need to water during a dry winter, resort to the hose.
- Weed. Sometimes weeds have a way of popping up even when your grass is dormant. Grab weeds when you see them or apply product as needed.
Taking Care of Your Lawn Equipment
- Drain the oil. Oil that sits gets sludgy, making it hard for the engine to run efficiently. Lawn mowers, as well as other tools, need to have the oil drained. Drop the old oil off at your town’s hazardous waste facility, or seek out a recycling center.
- Preserve the gas. Smaller tools, like trimmers, should have the gas drained completely. Larger equipment like your mower, however, can have its gas preserved. If the fuel sits untreated, it will degrade. To keep this from happening, pour some fuel stabilizer into the tank. This will keep gas fresh for about 6 months.
- Replace worn parts. Parts that are cracked and brittle can leave equipment vulnerable to absorbing dust or moisture. Check for missing screws and nuts. Make sure the gas cap has an intact O-ring. Look at your local hardware store or contact the manufacturer for replacements.
- Change out fuel and air filters. Dirty filters make a tool’s engine work much harder than they should have to. The fuel filter can be found at the end of the fuel line (a hangar can help you fish it out). Simply pull it off and install a new one. Air filters that are torn should be replaced. If you still have one that’s intact, be sure to remove trapped debris regularly to extend its life.
- Clean the spark plugs. Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture that starts the engine. With repeated use they get dirty, but they are relatively easy to clean. Remove them with a socket wrench, spray them with brake cleaner and scrape off the carbonized black bits with a wire brush. Plugs that are too difficult to clean can be replaced at minimal cost (usually under $5 apiece).
- Get rid of dirt and rust. Remember, safety first. Disconnect the spark plug before removing the blade. Use a brush and water if needed, to scrape off dirt. A wire brush will also work when scraping off rust. Before replacing the blade, spray it with rust-inhibiting enamel.
- Lubricate. Hinges and moving parts need to be sprayed with lubricant, otherwise they can rust into place. After lubricating, wipe tung oil on wooden handles to prevent drying and cracking.