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Lawn Mower

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.

Step Cutting

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 called streaking, 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.

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