To achieve a great cut and a healthy lawn, it is essential to regularly sharpen or replace your lawn mower blade. Generally, one good sharpening at the start and one around the middle of mowing season should suffice until you store your mower for the winter (click here for tips on storing small engine equipment). If your mower picks up any stray debris throughout the season, however (sticks, caps, etc.), it is wise to schedule additional sharpening as needed. The exact timing depends on workload, but there are a few tell-tale signs that will help you stay on schedule. With the following tricks, you can develop a trained eye and keep your lawn mower blade up to par all season.
1. The first and most obvious thing to look for is unevenness in your lawn. When your lawn mower blade is sharp, your grass should be cut at the same height every time with just one pass of the mower. If you find yourself making multiple passes to compensate for missed patches of grass, a dull blade may be the culprit.
2. Another way to tell if your lawn mower blade needs sharpening is by closely inspecting the grass. If you notice that the tip of each grass blade is torn and not cleanly-sliced, it may be time to switch out your blade. Torn tips may also decrease grass health, causing grass to lose its lush, green color to an unhealthy shade of brown.
3. Lastly—and perhaps most obviously—you can inspect the blade itself. While your lawn mower blade can usually be salvaged with routine sharpening, it is important to look for large chips or dents in the cutting edge that cannot be smoothed out. Inconsistencies in the blade are likely to tear grass rather than delivering the clean cut that’s important for your lawn. Also pay attention to the thickness of your lawn mower blade. Over time, sand, dirt, and other yard debris can erode the blade, causing the metal to weaken and become paper-thin. If you notice this, replace the blade immediately to avoid breakage during mowing, which can cause pieces of metal to fly apart and possibly injure you or other bystanders.
Overall, paying close attention to your lawn and your mower will help greatly in determining when to sharpen or your replace your lawn mower blade. Remember the signs, perform maintenance regularly, and your lawn mower blade should cut beautifully every time you mow.
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