Regardless of your gardening experience, it’s easy to occasionally make silly mistakes when mowing the grass. We’re all guilty of it, but sometimes they could result in damage to your lawn or even injury. Before cutting your grass, always make sure you know what you shouldn’t do with a mower to avoid accidents and keep your grass and equipment in top condition.
There are many things you should avoid doing with your lawnmower, both from a safety aspect and to prevent damage to property. These range from mowing wet grass and forgetting to clear debris from the lawn to spilling fuel on a hot exhaust.
In this blog post, I’ve listed many of the most important mistakes homeowners make when mowing their lawns and how to avoid falling victim to them yourself. If you want to find out how to be safe using your lawnmower then make sure you keep reading!
Not Clearing Debris From The Lawn
Not bothering to clear twigs, rocks, or even children’s toys on the lawn may not seem that important, but they actually cause more harm than you think.
Even small rocks or sticks that get caught in the blades can become projectiles, which can fly out and cause injuries or damage to property. Hitting larger stones will also damage the blade, dulling the edge or even bending it out of shape.
So before using your lawnmower, make sure to check the lawn for anything that could present a hazard, including tools, hose pipes, and other garden equipment you may have left lying around.
Clearing your lawn from obstacles is actually a big part of making your mowing sessions as easy as possible as I already mentioned here.
Mowing Wet Grass
Many people think that it’s perfectly fine to mow their lawn on a rainy day or in the morning when the grass is still dewy. However, this can actually cause more harm than good to both your lawn and your mower.
Mowing wet grass can cause clumps of wet grass to clog up your mower’s blades and deck. This can damage your mower or even cause it to stop working completely, which can be a costly repair.
It’s also a safety hazard as it’s very easy to slip on a damp lawn which can result in serious injury when pushing a mower.
If you need to mow your lawn and it’s wet, try to wait it out and let it dry or mow it on high setting. However, it’s always best to wait until the grass is dry to ensure a healthy lawn. You can read more about the potential dangers of mowing wet grass in this article.
Mowing Too Fast
When you mow too fast, the mower blades don’t get the chance to cut the grass cleanly, leading to an unevenly cut lawn. This is especially true if you’re using a traditional push mower, where the speed of the mower is entirely reliant on your own strength and energy.
For the best results just move along slowly and steadily to allow the mower blades a chance to cut the grass cleanly with each pass. Trust me, there is nothing worse than trying to finish mowing as fast as possible, then having to do another round anyway because you were moving too fast.
You could also invest in a self-propelled mower that only allows you to move at a constant, steady pace without requiring you to judge how fast to go.
Not Disconnecting the Spark Plug
Always, always remember to pull the cap off the spark plug before doing any work on your mower, particularly underneath where the blade is.
Why is it so important to disconnect the spark plug? In a word – safety!
The spark plug provides the ignition for the engine and if you don’t disconnect it, there is a chance that the engine could accidentally fire while you’re doing some maintenance. This could result in serious injury, particularly if the blades start spinning.
Taking the time to do this simple step can save you a lot of trouble and potential harm when doing maintenance, changing the oil or the blades, or even just cleaning under the mower.
Remember to wait for the mower engine to come to a complete stop before pulling the plug or use a pair of insulated pliers in an emergency. Also, make sure to wear protective gloves while doing this if your mower has been running for a while because the spark plug and even the cap can get pretty hot, and touching them could result in some nasty burns on your hand.
Not Securing the Gas Cap
One of the common mistakes that many people make while mowing their lawns is not securing the gas cap. You may think that it’s not that important, but it can actually be very dangerous!
When you leave the gas cap off, it can spill and release fumes into the air, which can ignite and cause an explosion if you happen to hit a rock and cause a spark!
Furthermore, it can allow dirt, dust, and debris to enter the fuel system, clogging the fuel filter and potentially damaging the engine. Not to mention, gas is expensive, and leaving the cap off can waste it unnecessarily.
Simply make a habit of checking the gas cap before starting your mower to make sure it’s securely tightened and in good condition.
Removing The Grass Catcher While The Engine Is Still Running
Removing the grass catcher while the engine is still running can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Not only are you putting yourself at risk of injury, but you could also damage your lawnmower.
Lawnmower blades spin at a very high speed and if you take the bag off while the blades are still spinning, there is a risk of debris flying out and hitting you or causing damage to your surroundings.
To avoid this mistake, always switch off your lawnmower and wait for the blades to completely stop before attempting to remove the grass catcher.
Not Emptying The Grass Catcher When It’s Full
When the grass catcher is full, the clippings have nowhere to go and will clog up the blade area or drop in large clumps onto your lawn.
To avoid these problems, it’s important to empty the grass catcher before it becomes too full. Ideally, you should aim to check it every 5-10 minutes or so, particularly if you’re mowing longer grass and leaves.
Not only will your lawn be healthier for it, but you’ll also prevent damage to your lawnmower.
If you’re using a bagless mower, make sure you have a plan for what to do with the grass clippings (if you are out of ideas, I have some tips for you in this article).
Mowing While Barefoot Or Wearing Sandals
Mowing while barefoot or wearing open-toed shoes might seem like a harmless activity, but it is one of the most common causes of serious injury. While it is tempting to slip off your shoes and feel the grass between your toes, leave it until after you’ve finished.
Otherwise, you put yourself at risk of harm from flying debris like rocks, sticks, or broken glass. The blades of your lawnmower can spin at an incredible speed, creating a powerful force that can cause nasty injuries to unprotected feet.
Additionally, wearing flip-flops etc. can be hazardous as they do not provide adequate grip or stability. If you accidentally trip, slip or fall while mowing, it can be extremely dangerous.
Wearing closed-toed shoes or sneakers when mowing your lawn will provide the necessary protection, support, and grip, reducing the risk of injury and keeping you safe.
Mowing Across Steep Slopes
Mowing on steep slopes can be risky business, but with the right techniques, you can help keep yourself safe.
The most important thing to avoid when mowing on a steeply sloping lawn is mowing across the slope. This can cause the mower to slip and slide or even tip right over, making it difficult to control and increasing the risk of accidents.
Instead, always mow up and down the incline, moving slowly and carefully to keep the mower flat on the ground while keeping your footing secure.
Additionally, never mow the grass on a gradient when it’s wet as that makes it even more slippery. Wet grass can be slippery and makes it difficult to control the mower and avoid slipping.
If you must cut the grass on a steep slope in these conditions, consider using a string trimmer instead.
Refueling The Lawnmower While It Is Still Hot
Refueling a hot mower can be extremely dangerous as the fuel vapors can easily ignite and cause a fire, particularly if you slop gasoline over the exhaust area.
It’s important to wait for your lawnmower to cool down completely before adding fuel. This can take around 10 minutes or more depending on the weather. Even if you’re in a hurry, at least wait until you can touch the exhaust without burning your fingers.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to avoid overfilling the fuel tank. Overfilling can cause fuel to spill out and catch fire. Instead, fill the tank to the recommended level indicated in the owner’s manual.
Mowing in reverse may seem like an efficient way to get the job done quickly, but it can be dangerous and is not recommended.
When you mow backward, you don’t have the same level of control over the mower, and you can’t see the area you’re cutting as well. This makes it easier for you to accidentally run over an obstacle, trip, or lose control of the mower altogether.
In short, pulling the mower backward for a long way is not worth it. Save yourself the headache and the potential dangers by always moving forward unless it’s just for a very small area.
Drinking Alcohol Before Mowing
Drinking alcohol before mowing your lawn is dangerous. It can lead to serious mistakes that could potentially damage your lawn or even cause injury.
Operating a lawn mower requires a significant amount of focus and coordination. Having a beer beforehand can impair both of these important abilities, making it difficult to control the mower and navigate around obstacles.
Furthermore, operating a lawnmower while heavily under the influence of alcohol can be incredibly reckless. A drunken stumble could quickly turn into an accident, resulting in serious injury or even death.
If you do choose to drink alcohol on a hot summer day, make sure to wait until after you finish mowing, you’ll appreciate it more anyway!
Letting Passengers Ride On The Lawnmower
This usually applies to riding mowers, but some people even let their kids ride on a push mower! It may seem like harmless fun, but it’s actually a reckless pastime that could lead to serious injuries or accidents.
First and foremost, the person driving the lawnmower may not have full visibility of their surroundings if someone is standing on a push mower or sitting on the back of a riding mower. This could lead to the machine hitting an object or person that they didn’t see.
Additionally, riding on a mower can be very dangerous if the person falls off. The blades of the lawnmower can cause serious injury or even death if someone falls off and gets caught in them.
Never allow anyone to ride on a lawnmower while it’s in operation. It’s just not worth the risk.
Mowing In The Dark
Mowing your lawn in the dark may seem like a time-saving hack or a way to beat the heat, but it’s not really a good idea!
First of all, of course, it’s dark so you cannot see anything. You may miss rocks, sticks, and other debris that may damage your mower or even worse, injure you. It’s also challenging to see the edges of the lawn, making it likely that you’ll accidentally mow into flower beds, shrubs, or other landscape features.
Secondly, if you have a larger yard, it can be hard to keep track of where you’ve been with the mower so you may miss large patches of grass. Also, if you’re using a gas-powered mower with a loud engine, it’s not very neighborly to be mowing in the middle of the night!
Cutting the grass in the dark may seem convenient, but it’s best to just wait until it’s light outside.
Well, that’s it for my list of things you should never do with a mower. Some of the mistakes people make may seem to not be that important at first, but they can lead to some pretty serious consequences.
So just remember to apply some common sense and mow safely to avoid any accidents or costly damage to your lawnmower!