Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance

Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

As a new season of lawn maintenance begins, there are certain spring lawn mower maintenance projects everyone can undertake.

You don’t need a background in small-engine maintenance to do these projects, and even if you’re inexperienced you’ll probably love how inexpensive and easy these mower maintenance projects are to complete. I’ll walk you through my spring lawn mower maintenance projects in this article.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Starts in the Fall

Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Starts in the Fall

Proper maintenance for your lawn mower always starts with putting it away for winter properly. 

Without taking the necessary precautions when storing your lawn mower at the end of the season, it is likely that your lawn mower won’t be ready to do its job in spring. 

As a reminder, here are some steps to take when storing your lawn mower for the winter:

  • Empty the gas out of the lawn mower.
  • Ensure all of the cables are connected.
  • Clean out the undercarriage.
  • Keep your lawn mower in a dry area for the winter.

Now that you’ve been reminded about how to properly store your lawn mower in the winter, here are some tips on how to get your lawn mower ready for the busy spring season after a long cold winter.

All of the items on my spring mower maintenance checklist are easy DIY projects, and most people should be able to complete all of these tasks in under an hour each year.

My Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

Here’s a short summary of the maintenance projects I definitely recommend you complete this spring before starting up your mower for the first trip around your lawn.

Make sure to check on all the removable pieces

Despite you not using your lawn mower all winter, things on your lawn mower can still get dislodged and dirty.  It is important to check all of the removable pieces to ensure your lawn mower is working perfectly.

Replace the Spark Plug

Change the Spark Plug

The first thing to check when tuning up your lawn mower is your spark plug.

The spark plug is one of the main components that makes your lawn mower start up easily. I recommend replacing it at the beginning of each mowing season because it’s inexpensive and easy to do. 

Here are some quick tips on how to change your spark plug:

  1. Unplug the spark plug wire.
  2. Remove the old spark plug with a spark plug wrench or socket.
  3. Place the new plug into the socket, ensuring that you do not tighten it down too much.

Be sure to remember not to tighten your new spark plug down too much, as this can actually cause your lawn mower to not start.

Replace the Air Filter

After checking your spark plug, check your lawn mower’s air filter.

Especially in drier climates, the air filters in lawn mowers can get dusty and dirty even when not being used.

It is important to clean the air filter in your car, and your lawn mower is no different.

A dirty air filter will put more stress on your lawn mower and waste gas.

Replacing a lawn mower air filter is cheap, and easy and I suggest you do it in the spring, and possibly once more halfway through the season.

Changing the oil is essential for proper function of your lawn mower

Change the Oil as Part of Your Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance Routine

Oil in a lawn mower is essential for proper functioning.

You should change the oil in your lawn mower once every other mowing season (minimum – I change mine at least once a year).

To change the oil in your lawn mower, follow these steps:

  1. Drain all of the gasoline from your lawn mower
  2. Disconnect the spark plug wire
  3. Check to see if your lawn mower has an oil drain plug.  Some lawn mowers, especially larger ones and riding ones will have an oil drain plug.  Smaller lawn mowers might not have an oil drain plug.
    • If your lawn mower has an oil drain plug, pull the plug and drain the oil out like you would do in a car.
    • b.If your lawn mower does not have an oil drain plug, tip your lawn mower on its side, being sure to keep the carburetor on the raised side, and drain all of the oil out of the mower.
  4. After draining all of the old oil out, tilt your lawn mower upright and add the new, clean oil.

Make sure the blades on your lawn mower are nice and sharp

Because nobody’s yards are perfect and they are filled with rocks and other hard, blunt objects, your mower’s blades can take a beating.  They endure a lot of stress, especially during peak mowing season.  It is important to keep your mowers blades sharp.

Dull lawn mower blades rip and tear the grass instead of cutting it, causing damage to your mower and to your lawn. 

I recommend hiring a professional to help sharpen your lawn mower’s blade(s). 

Some experienced people use a metal file to sharpen their lawn mower blades, but if you do it wrong you could actually make the mower worse than not touching them at all.

If you’d like to learn how to do it yourself, this video might help:

Extension Turfgrass Specialist in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Doug Soldat says that he keeps “two mower blades so I can quickly switch one out if I hit a rock or something and that gives me some time to sharpen the spare one and get it loaded up,” stressing that “the most important thing you can do is mow with a sharp blade.”

Clean your lawn mower

Yes, it is important to keep your lawn mower clean on the top side. Nobody like to touch a sticky handle or to have grass shaving all over the top of the lawn mower.

Clean Your Mower Each Spring

But one common lawn mower maintenance task that is often overlooked is cleaning out the undercarriage.

Grass, especially if mowed wet, cat get caked to the underside of your lawn mower and clog up your lawn mowers discharge chute. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service you should “keep the area beneath the mower deck free of grass clippings to reduce rust buildup.”

Cleaning the undercarriage of your lawn mower is easier if you have a smaller, push mower. If you have a larger, riding mower, we recommend seeing professional help.

For smaller, push mowers, unplug the spark plug wire and tip your mower on its side. Using a wire brush, scrape the grass clippings and dirt off the undercarriage.

Once the majority of the buildup has been scraped off, use a hose to spray the remaining debris off the undercarriage of your lawn mower.

Keep all of the parts loose and lubricated

Use oil and grease to make sure every part of your mower that moves is well lubricated

Lawn mowers that sit in cold garages for long periods of time tend to build up residue and rust, making it difficult for them to function properly when it comes time to use them again.

In the same way I recommend cleaning the undercarriage, I also recommend properly lubricating all of the moving part on your lawn mower.

Be sure to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for tips on proper locations (and approved types) before you apply lubricant to your mower.

Be sure to wipe down an area that you have lubricated after you are done. If you do not do this, the excess oil will run, causing a mess.

Take Care of your Lawn Mower and it Will Take Care of You

Spring Lawn Mower Care & Maintenance

Maintenance on your lawn mower may not be the most fun tasks, however it is an important one. In order to keep your lawn mower running perfectly, it needs some love and attention.

Here is a summary of what I discussed above:

  1. Don’t just leave it and forget it during non-mowing seasons. Your lawn mower needs attention even when you are not mowing. Before you leave your lawnmower in the back of your garage for the winter be sure to drain all of the gasoline out of your lawn mower. This will save you a lot of trouble when it comes time to pull the mower out again and use it. If you forget to drain your lawn mower of gasoline, don’t fret, use the above tips to get your lawn mower back up and running after a winter with old gasoline.
  2. Replace the spark plug. Your spark plug should be replaced once a year. Follow the above steps to learn how to replace your spark plug. Clean your lawn mower’s air filter. This is especially important if you live in a dry area. Dust can build up on your air filter and cause the lawn mower to not start.
  3. Change the oil in your lawn mower annually. Old oil can cause your mower to not start. It is important to change your oil at least once a year to ensure that there are no particles in your oil and that your lawn mower runs perfectly.
  4. Sharpen the blades. Like most blades, your lawn mower. Blades can get dull from hidden debris and rocks. We recommend going to a professional to get your lawn mower blades sharpened, as this task can be dangerous.
  5. Understand how your lawn mower works and know how to tell when it is broken. By reading your owner’s manual you can know when your lawn mower is working properly. You can also know how it is supposed to feel and sound, so when it is not working properly, you can pinpoint the problem.


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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