The nights are closing in, and gardeners across the nation are hanging up their gardening gloves and putting away their lawn mowers until spring. But what should you do to protect your mower while it’s out of use?
Leaving your lawn mower outside over winter will invite rust to settle in, putting your mower at risk of never cutting another blade of grass. It’s an expensive mistake that can be avoided by taking some very simple steps.
We’ve put together five essential tips to bear in mind when packing up your lawn mower for the winter months.
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1) Give it a good clean
Tidying up your mower a before you store it away will both protect it and keep it looking fresh.
Brushing away mud, leaves and grass will help slow the build-up of rust on the mower, and will prevent key components like wheels and grass catchers from getting clogged up and stiff.
Before you even think about tipping the mower on its side to clean underneath, make sure it’s switched off and has no source of power that can be accidentally triggered.
For tricky-to-reach nooks and crannies, and especially on the blades, use a stiff brush or stick to remove the debris – not your hands.
It’s not the most glamorous job, but it’s got to be done to keep the mower running efficiently – and it will be far more unappealing to do in spring. Wouldn’t you rather clean off grass and mud that isn’t six-months old?
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2) Fold it down properly
Collapsing the lawn mower handle will make it easier to store. Most mowers come with adjustable handles which can be folded backwards or forwards. This helps the mower take up less room in storage and makes it easier to prop up against a wall.
Removing the grass collector can be helpful for storage as well, as the separated parts can be tucked away in different spots. Just make sure to keep track of what you’re keeping where.
Some mowers have grass-collection bags instead of boxes – these are even more portable for storage.
3) Drain or treat your fuel
Only petrol lawn mowers are powered by fuel that needs topping up, so cordless and electric mower owners can skip this step.
It’s unlikely that your petrol mower’s fuel tank will be completely empty after its last use before being tucked away for winter.
Leaving fuel in the tank for that long is a risky business, as after around 30 days it can start to become stale and degraded.
Turn that 30 days into a few months and there’s a pretty good chance that your mower’s engine will get clogged and will struggle to run when you bring it out again in spring.
Draining the tank is the safest option, but you’ll need a siphon hose to do that effectively. You can buy cheap ones for less than £10.
There are also some stabilising liquids you can buy that keep your fuel fresh until the mower is ready to be used again. Most claim to extend the life of fuel by around two years. Do your research and shop around before buying one of these though, as there are a lot of options out there and some will work better than others.
Take a look at our reviews of petrol lawn mowers.
4) Remove the battery
Cordless lawn mowers are becoming an increasingly popular option, and almost all of them are powered by one or more fairly large detachable batteries.
Keeping your batteries in good nick is very important, as replacement ones sometimes cost as much as the rest of the mower.
Batteries don’t like any environment that’s too cold, hot or damp. A cool dry place is perfect, so finding an appropriate spot indoors is probably your safest bet for storing it over winter. Remember most sheds aren’t frost-proof.
It’s definitely worth giving the battery itself and the battery terminal on the mower a good clean while you’re at it.
Don’t use any water to clean either part though, as it could harm the electronics and prove dangerous. A dry cloth should do the trick just fine.
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5) Choose the right spot
Every garden and every house is different, so every lawn-mower owner has their own set of options for where exactly to store their mower over winter.
A shed or garage are common choices for obvious reasons – indoor storage without the risk of dirtying your home.
Be wary of damp, though. Wooden sheds in particular offer poor protection from moisture build-up. Keep your mower away from any appliances or active devices that heat up as well, as this can be a safety risk.
Not everybody has a shed or space to store their lawn mower indoors. If you have to keep it outside, the best way you can protect it over winter is to cover it with a waterproof tarpaulin.
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