How's your lawn mower cutting?
If you're less than happy with how the cut of your lawn
looks after mowing, here are a few solutions that may help.
Three of the most common problems are 'step cutting', 'streaking',
and 'scalping'. The first thing is to eliminate some of the more obvious possibilities
such as making sure the tire pressure is correct on your riding mower, or if
new blades were installed, double check that you installed them correctly. Hey,
sometimes when going over the obvious basics you'll find a simple mistake has
been made that is easy to fix, saving hours of frustration.
If you see 'steps' or ridges formed along the surface of
your lawn its called step cutting. This is normally a result of damage to the
deck of the mower or the blade. Inspect the deck shell for any damage that may
have thrown the unit out of alignment. Check for loose or bent spindles. Maybe
the level of the deck needs to be adjusted. Place the machine on a fairly flat
surface and turn the blade so that one of the tips is pointing at you. Measure
from the tip of the blade down to the ground. Now go to the other side of the
machine and measure from the blade tip to the ground. If the two measurments
are within just 1/8" its
okay. However, if its off 1/4" or
more the level needs correcting.
Thin strips of uncut grass left after mowing, commonly
can be the result of a number of things. The blades may need sharpening. Depending
on what type of mower you have, the speed may be too fast or too slow. Try experimenting
with different speeds. Also, decks that are stuffed up with grass clippings will
inhibit proper air movement and leave clumps of grass behind effectively 'hiding'
streaks of grass from being cut. This will also happen when the grass is too
wet. Try making larger overlaps of the cutting rows to ensure all grass is cut.
Scalping, of course, occurs when the blade is too
close to the ground. This can be caused by an uneven lawn, mower deck, or even
bouncing. Make sure the deck is raised to an even level all the way around. You
may want to try slowing down on particularly uneven or bumpy ground. Some people
set the blade low purposely, in order to have more time between cuts. You may
end up spending more energy trying to salvage your lawn after its 'burnt' from
being too short and laying out in the sun all day.