Outdoor power equipment makes landscape management a lot easier. Without these machines, maintaining your own landscape could be very challenging. So, after a summer of helping you keep your yard attractive, they deserve some tender, loving care and a winter of rest.
By outdoor power equipment, I mean your lawn mower, cultivator and handheld equipment like your string trimmer, leaf blower and hedge trimmer. The place to start is with the manual that came with the machine. That will give you the manufacturer’s recommendations for winterizing. Follow it to maintain your warranty. If you don’t have the manual, here are some generic recommendations.
All equipment needs to be cleaned. If you let dirt and grass clippings build up, they begin to corrode the metal. Tip your lawn mower on its side so you can remove clumps of grass stuck to the underside of the deck. If there are clippings still sticking to the deck, spray the deck with the high pressure setting on your hose nozzle. If there’s still some dirt after that, scrape the deck with a putty knife and spray it again.
While you’re spraying and scrubbing, you might as well include your manual equipment like shovels, trowels, rakes, pruners, loppers and weed diggers.
Fall is a good time to change your mower’s oil. Get all the dirty oil out and replace it with nice, clean, new oil. Be sure you do replace the oil now. Don’t wait until spring or you may forget. Have you ever run a mower without oil? The engine seizes right up.
You’ll probably need to change the spark plug in the spring so you might as well change it now while you’re working on the mower.
If you have a little rotary tiller, officially called a cultivator, clean off the tines using your hose and a kitchen scruffy or wire brush. Don’t be too aggressive with a wire brush, though. You probably won’t need to change the oil since most of these engines are two strokes (you mix the oil and gas).
You can probably clean the handhelds with your hose. You may also need to give it a light once over with the scruffy. Be sure all engines are cold when you spray. Cold water and hot engines can result in cracked engine blocks. You also don’t have to worry about changing the oil since most of these engines are two strokes, which don’t have oil in a crankcase.
You should also remove any fuel remaining in the tank or stabilize it with a stabilizer that you can be buy an outdoor power equipment or auto parts store. This is recommended because sitting idle for some time, especially in the cold weather, can cause “varnish” to form in the fuel, which can then gum up the carburetor.
I purposely didn’t include chain saws in this discussion because I hope most of you don’t have one. They’re dangerous tools that are best left to the professionals. If you do have a chain saw, you probably use it year round so it requires ongoing maintenance, and that could be material for another blog.