Lawn Mowing: Why Are Sharp Blades Important & How To Mow Like A Pro

Mowing a lawn is one of the most important practices in keeping the lawn healthy. The truth is, glasses are like most plants – all they need is care. If you clip off their growing points (for grass, this is the crown where new leaves develop), the plants will branch out and become denser which in this case will transform thousands of your individual grass plants into a woven turf of a lawn.

On the contrary, if you don’t mow your lawn at all, it will likely look like a prairie more than a lawn. However, the mere act of mowing is not what makes a lawn look good. The height and frequency determine how healthy and attractive your lawn will look.

On top of that, we all know that cutting a lawn is stressful for the grass, mostly because the leaves make the food for the roots. So, if you want nice green turf and still don’t want to get the help of professional lawn care services, you should learn three important principles:

  • Height Does Not Count When You Mow Your Lawn – The truth is, most grasses have a range of their recommended mowing heights. If you stay at the upper end of the range when the lawn is under stressful conditions (hot water, draught etc.) or if you have a shady lawn, you will follow the best practices of green turf care. For a thriving lawn, don’t cut away more than one-third of the grass blade in any one mowing. Edging and trimming are the final touches of mowing, leaving a nice clean edge and sharpening up the entire lawn.
  • Safety Measures To Consider When Mowing A Lawn – One of the first rules of safety when mowing a lawn is to know your equipment and always read the owner’s manual of every item. Make sure to wear proper clothing as well, as well as protect your hearing with earplugs or similar items. Keep your children and pets away from the lawn while mowing and be careful when fueling – stop the engine and let it cool for 10 minutes before putting fuel into it. Be especially careful on steep slopes and hills – a mower can flip over or go out of control easily.
  • Lawn Mowers – The Tree’s Biggest Enemy – Every lawn owner needs to be careful when mowing around or near a tree. The truth is, repeatedly banging a mower against the tree trunk can damage the bark and the sensitive tissues of the tree. This especially applies to young trees with weak base. To protect the tree, leave a ring of grassless soil at least 3 feet wide around the trunk and put in a nice brick of stone edging around its outside parts.

A Guide To Sharpening Your Lawn Mower Blades

Now that you know some of the basic principles of lawn mowing and the best practices when mowing your lawn, it’s time to talk about another important thing – which is sharpening your lawn mower blades.

Most of you haven’t realized that their lawn mower blades need sharpening. However, this is essential for optimal function and helps maintain a green, healthy lawn. On top of this, a sharp blade does not only cuts lawn – it lets grass plants recover quickly which results in a great looking lawn and reduces your lawn mowing time.

Dull Vs. Sharp Lawn Mower Blades: The (BIG) Difference

As a lawn owner, you should know that a dull blade rips and pulls the grass blades, leaving nothing but ragged tears that weaken the plant and promote fungal growth. The good thing at this point is that instead of calling your lawn care expert, you can sharpen your blades yourself and make sure that they cut in a clean and precise way, allowing your plants to heal and recover quickly.

Dull lawn blades can also lead to lawn discoloration, as well as a range of lawn diseases, portions of grass being pulled up during mowing, ragged-looking grass or even plants dying. The difference is obvious – mowing the lawn with sharp blades is the same like cutting your fruit with a sharp knife. Your lawnmower will be happier, your lawn will thank you and the entire experience will be more enjoying for you.

So when you see it, a sharp lawn mower is a win-win for both your time and the results of mowing your lawn.

But how do you actually sharpen lawn mower blades?

Step 1: Remove The Spark Plug

You don’t want your motor to accidentally start off while you are cleaning the blades, right?

To prevent that from happening, make sure to remove the spark plug and tape or tie it back so that it doesn’t flop back into contact with the actual plug. This is a must-do step and something you should never skip.

Step 2: Tip The Mower On Its Side

The ideal position at this point is to tip the mower on its side – with the air filter and carburetor positioned side-up. This will keep the oil and gas from dripping into the air filter – but also help you remove the blades in an easy way.

Step 3: Remove The Blades

If you don’t know where the blades are located, look for the carburetor and air filter. The carburetor is easy to recognize because it has throttle cables running to it.

Once you find the blades, you will also notice that there is either a single bolt or nut that is holding them on. Make sure to wedge a short 2×4 between the blades in order to remove them by clamping the blade. Loosen the bolt (or nut) with a long-handled wrench and turn it counterclockwise. As soon as you do this, you can remove the bolt and blade.

Tip: Marking the new blade with a spray before you remove it is a good thing to do if you want to know which way to reinstall it.

Step 4: Sharpen Blade With File

Once you remove the blade, it is up to you to examine it thoroughly and determine whether to sharpen it or replace it completely. Our advice is to sharpen it with a hand file. Since nearly all of the mower blades are made from soft steel, you can sharpen them with fewer than 50 strokes of a clean and sharp file that is at least 10 inches in length. Grinders can also work in this case – but are more difficult to control.

Step 5: Master The Proper Filing Angle

Sharpen your blades from the top side of the cutting edge – all in order to get the longest-lasting edge on the blade. The file cuts in one direction only (the push stroke) which is why you need to feel it biting on the steel on the blade.

Ideally, this is a 30° angle on the blade – which gives you the best position when sharpening and raises your mower to the highest setting.

The original cutting angle will give you the longest-lasting edge on the blade. If you don’t feel a solid cutting action, your file is probably dull or you did not press down hard enough.

Step 6: Check The Blade’s Balance

A great way to check the blade’s balance is to hang it on a nail. If one of its sides dips, you should take the file once again and file a bit more off that specific side until the blade remains horizontal and equal.

An unbalanced blade can cause vibration and may ruin the blade shaft or bearings.

Step 7: Reinstall Your Blade And Screw It In The Bolt

The final step is to reinstall your blade and hand-tighten the bolt. Here, you need to insert the 2×4 bolt in the reverse direction. If you marked your blade, it will be easier to know which side goes where.

As most professional mower sharpeners would advise, the second most common mistake they see in sharpening the blades is under-tightening the bolt. A loose blade can throw off the engine timing and can also make the mower hard to start.

Buying A New Lawn Mower Blade: Is It A Good Idea?

If you are wondering whether you should buy a new lawn mower blade, we suggest you doing that in every 2-3 years. The general logic here is that sharpening your blades only works for a couple of times as it eats out the steel over time.

So, replacing your blade is a great idea – however, you must replace it with an exact replacement blade or the blade that is recommended in your owner’s manual.

When Do You Need A New Lawn Mower Blade?

The best way to see this is by examining your lawn mower blade when you remove it – and look for the problems that are shown. If you are not sure of the condition of your lawn mower blade, speak with a lawn care expert or take it to the hardware store and compare it with a new one.

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades?

Keeping a sharp blade is important. If you have been mowing your lawn yourself, we recommend that you sharpen your blades every 2-4 times per year or more precisely, every 8th (eighth) mowing. This is the standard timeline for most mowers and lawn care professionals.

If you don’t want to sharpen your blades yourself, there are some professionals who can do that for you at an affordable price.

Ready To Start? Here Is What You’ll Need

If you are ready to start sharpening your lawn mower blades, you will need the following tools that are required for any sharpening project:

  • File
  • Rags
  • socket/ratchet set
  • Vise
  • Spark plug socket

You will also need gloves and a WD-40 lubricant for smooth sharpening and the best results.

Final Words

In the end, it is easy to see the benefits of sharp blades for mowing your lawn.

Mowing with dull blades can contribute to lawn diseases, discoloration and death to the grass plant. This is why your grass benefits from clean cuts and can recover more quickly but also eliminate the chance of disease in this way.

Sharp blades are also known for reducing the amount of time it takes to mow a lawn. Unlike dull blades which tend to put at the plant instead of cutting it, any proper mowing schedule demands sharp mower blades for the best appearance of the lawn.

Hiring a lawn care professional for lawn mowing is always a good idea – especially if you don’t want to do the blade sharpening yourself every time or don’t want to bother with having to buy lawn care equipment at all.

At Green Turf Care, we are among the leading lawn care companies in Pennsylvania – taking care for lawns and helping homeowners with expert lawn care services. For more information about how our team can help you out and create that beautiful lawn from your dreams, contact us here.