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Kansas Ag News Headlines
Service Mower Before Putting It Away for the Year
Kansas Ag Connection - 10/15/2020

Even if they have not yet gone dormant, many Kansas lawns are starting to slow their growth, which means homeowners are starting to eye a more permanent spot for storing their lawnmower.

Ward Upham, a horticulture expert at Kansas State University, said it's important to service the mower before tucking it in for the winter.

"Make sure you drain the tank of gasoline-powered engines, or use a gasoline stabilizer. Untreated gasoline can become thick and gummy," he said. "Then, remove the spark plug and squirt a few drops of oil inside the hole to lubricate the cylinder."

Upham said that while the spark plug is removed, consider replacing it with a new one.

"If your equipment has a battery, clean the battery terminals, which usually corrode during the season," he said. "A wire-bristle brush is a good tool for doing this. The battery can then be removed or connected to a battery maintainer that will keep it charged over winter."

If removing the battery, store it in a protected location for the winter; Upham said a cool basement works best.

The mower's blade also can be sharpened now so that it is ready when the work starts up again next spring. Upham calls the process "pretty straightforward," offering the following steps:

- Check the blade for major damage. If you can't fix it, consider replacing the blade.

- Remove grass and debris from the blade with a moist cloth. Dry the blade before sharpening the cutting edge.

- Remove nicks from the edge with a grinding wheel or hand file. If using a grinding wheel, match the existing edge angle to the wheel. If hand-filing, file at the same angle as the existing edge.

- Grind or file until the edge is 1/32 inch. Sharpening to a razor edge may result in the edge folding over during use, resulting in a poor cut.

- Clean the blade with solvent or oil for optimum winter storage. Avoid using water because it promotes rust.

Upham and his colleagues in K-State's Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.

Interested persons can also send their garden- and yard-related questions to Upham at, or contact your local K-State Research and Extension office.

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