Operating a lawnmower safely doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it can be a little daunting for first-timers or those switching to a new type of mower. Below are some basic instructions for how to mow, from start to finish.
1 - Gasoline Push Mowers
Before starting your mower, inspect it to be sure that there are no leaking fluids, such as gas or oil, and that the spark plug is properly inserted and has no signs of damage or corrosion. Also, check your fuel level and refill if necessary.
Prime your engine. When you prime the engine, you are squirting small amounts of fuel into the carburetor to ensure that you get the proper combustion reaction necessary to run the mower.
Pull your ripcord. Most gasoline mowers have a ripcord or pull cord that you need to yank. When you do this, it spins the blades and, if working properly and spun fast enough, causes a spark from your spark plug, which ignites the fuel in your carburetor. As a side note, most mowers have a safety bar or lever that you can hold down against the push bar on your mower. It would help if you held this safety bar down while pulling the cord and during operation. If you let go, it will shut off and won’t start unless held down again.
During operation, never walk away from a running mower. When mowing on a slope, it is best to mow side to side, as opposed to up and down the slope, because if you or the mower were to slip while moving up and down, there is a great risk of personal injury.
2 - Electric Push Mowers
Before starting, check to ensure that all the connections look good, with no torn or frayed wires, no corrosion, etc. If battery-powered, you should fully charge your battery before use. If powered by an outlet, make sure there are no tangles in your cord and that the cord is firmly in place at both ends.
Beyond that, most electric mowers start with the simple push of a button. Actual mowing is done just as you would with a gasoline mower.
3 - Riding Mowers
Like with push mowers, inspect your mower for any leaks and other obvious signs of damage, and refill with gasoline if necessary. Riding mowers typically work like any stick shift car. To start, disengage the clutch and shift the mower into neutral. Continue to hold the clutch until applying pressure to the gas pedal, and go back to holding the clutch before shifting again. If at any point you release the clutch without the gas pedal down, or vice versa, your engine will stall.
Raise the mower to its highest level for cutting on uneven terrain. Slow down on turns and slopes. Because of the extra weight of riding mowers, you should mow up and down slopes, never side to side. It is too easy for a mower to become overturned on a slope going sideways, especially when trying to turn.
4 - General Guidelines
Whether you're operating a riding mower or push mower, there are a few extra things to consider. Always remove rocks, sticks, and foreign debris from your yard, as they can damage your blades or cause injury if thrown by the blades. If using a bag, empty it frequently. Always read the manufacturer’s manual before operating for the first time.
Follow these simple guidelines for the mower you have, and you'll have no trouble keeping a beautifully trimmed yard.