Lawn Mower Tips

This page contains useful information on using and maintaining your 20-30" residential walk-behind lawn mower. This is general information and not specific to any particular lawn or lawn mower. Please consult your owners manual for information specific to your equipment.


How and When to Mow

- Your mower will perform best when it cuts an inch of grass or less, so mow frequently. In the spring, this can be every 4-6 days. In the summer, this can be 7-10 days depending on the amount of heat and rain.

- If you missed a mow, increase your wheel height and mow. Then, mow again at your preferred height. This can be done the same day or within a few days.

-Mulching your lawn is better for the lawn's health because the decomposed clippings act as a natural fertilizer. You can bag the grass if it is too long to mulch properly (i.e., finely cut, no clumps) or have another reason for not wanting the small clippings in the grass

- Grass height is a personal preference, but generally, it is healthiest to mow fescue no less than 3 inches. In the summer months, we recommend a 4 inch cut to help shade the grass roots. Sun exposure and amount of rainfall should be considered when selecting a height of cut.

- Vary your mowing pattern to avoid getting ruts in the lawn. Rotating between up and down, side to side, and diagonal mowing is ideal.

- Mow when it the grass is dry. Avoid mowing after rain or when morning dew present.


Before Starting Your Lawn Mower

- Check oil is at proper level on the dipstick

- Add fresh gas. Fuel needs to be stabilized at purchase if it is going to sit for more than 30 day. Gas older than 6 months should not be used. For infrequent use mowers, we recommend using non-ethanol fuel exclusively. This can be purchased from Arco, most home improvement stores, and occasionally at the pump in rural areas.

- Clear the deck of any debris, including: sticks, clumps of grass, or other objects.

- Check over the mower for any loose parts or potential safety issues.


Proper Basic Maintenance (Consult your owners manual!)

- Most manufacturers recommend changing the oil after the first 5 hours and then after every 25 hours. On engines marketed as "check and add", we still recommending changing the oil at least annually to maximize the life of the mower. This can usually be done by tipping the mower on its side (air filter side up) and letting the oil fall into a oil drain pan. Drain pans purchased at Arco include free oil disposal. Oil changes are best performed after mowing when the oil is less thick.

- Air filters should be replaced when dirty, which is usually annually. Mowing in dusty environments requires more frequent air filter changes. A pre-filter can extend the time between air filter changes.

- Blades should be sharpened when dull. A dull blade knocks the tops off the grass rather than cutting the grass. This is usually after 10 hours of use or every 6 weeks for most users. Having an extra blade on hand saves time because you can swap them on the mower. Just bring the dull one in for sharpening so its ready for the next swap.

- It's best to store mowers that aren't going to be used for extended periods of time with a stabilized non-ethanol fuel. To do this, run the mower dry of your regular gas, add the non-ethanol fuel, and start the machine and let it run for a minute. This will purge the entire fuel system of the damage-causing ethanol. See above for more info on fuel storage.

- Additional maintenance items are required periodically (e.g., spark plug replacement, drive system lubrication, engine shroud and cooling fin cleaning, rpm adjustments, starter rope replacements). Consult your owners manual for other recommended maintenances for your machine or bring it to Arco for one of our maintenance services.

- This video from Toro is also a good resource for general lawn mower maintenance that covers many topics discussed here.


Lawn Mower not Starting?

- Be sure your gas is fresh

- Consult your owners manual to ensure proper procedures have been followed. Most owners manuals are available online using your model and serial number, which should be on the mower.

- Check that the spark plug boot is attached properly and that the plug is not fowled.

- Check that the air filter is clean.

- Check for obstructions underneath the deck.

- Still not starting, check out these tips from Briggs & Stratton, which applies to most lawn mower engine manufacturers.

- Still not starting, seek professional help from your local dealer.


Mower Having Other issues?

- Self-propel not working - make sure the cable is connected at both ends and that it is at the proper tension. Most owner's manuals cover this adjustment.

- Heavy vibrations - check that your blade is not bent and your crankshaft is straight. Mowing with either if these issues is not safe and will cause further damage to the mower if used.

- Mower not cutting even - check that your wheels are all set to the same height of cut. If still cutting uneven, check that blade and crankshaft are not bent.

- Engine lacks power - check that the air filter is clean

- Can't get blade off - Manufacturer's specs for blade tightness generally require a long wrench and a way to stop the blade from spinning. Arco carries a blade stop that is easier and safer than most other methods.

- For other issues, seek professional help from Arco or your local dealer