We have received record rainfall in the Knoxville, TN area the last few weeks. This can create several issues when you mow and with your power equipment. Here are six easy tips that will keep your yard looking great and your mower running strong:
1. Clean After You Mow
Damp grass clippings cling to the underside of a mower deck and form a soggy layer that quickly turns into a moldy mess. If your mower has a washout port, then by all means use it to clean the deck. But even after you’re done, scrape the deck clean with a putty knife, being particularly careful to clean the lip where the deck edge curls under. (The same goes for your string trimmer. Clean the debris shield every time you trim.)
Also, clean the mower’s tires with a wire brush. Finally, wipe down the top of the mower to remove wet clippings, and fill its gas tank to remove air.
2. Mow More Often
If your typical mowing interval is every seven days, reduce that to five days or even less. This prevents the grass from getting long and shaggy. Tall grass is difficult to cut, and tall, wet grass is even worse.
3. Raise the Mower Deck
Most grasses in the Knoxville area are cool-season types. These grasses grow best with a long leaf of 3 to 4 inches. Most homeowners, however, cut these grasses way too short, and that problem is magnified in damp mowing conditions. The mower can’t handle it. Move the mower deck up to the highest or the second-highest setting and leave it there.
4. When All Else Fails, Side-Discharge Instead of Mulching
If conditions are really bad, side-discharge instead of bagging or mulching. Set the mower to the highest setting, put the side discharge in place, and mow.
This leaves rows of clippings on the lawn, of course. You can cross-mow (mow at 90 degrees to the first mow) in mulching or bagging mode to take care of the clippings; you can rake them up, or you can let them dry for a couple of days and mow again, this time in mulching or bagging mode.
5. Manage Fuel
Use stabilizer every time you fill up your mower’s gas can, and be sure to buy no more fuel than you will use in two to three weeks. Better yet, find a station that sells 100% gasoline and use this in your power equipment. The ethanol in today’s gasoline has an affinity for moisture. Stabilizing the fuel and going through your fuel supply as rapidly impossible prevents fuel contamination.
6. Sharpen Mower Blades
A sharp blade produces a crisp cut, and this keeps the grass healthy. It’s particularly important during damp mowing conditions, when the blade will have a tendency to shred rather than cut. ProGreen Plus sharpens blades for only $4.99 when they are off of the mower. New blades start at only $9.99 each!