Brown Tips on Your Grass?
Check for dull blades on your mower. Dull blades rip and tear the grass instead of cutting it. If your grass tips are turning yellow and brown in the days after a cutting, you were probably cutting with dull blades. This further stresses heat and drought punished grass, and it makes for a not-so-pretty lawn.
Fuel Mix Storage II
Paint your two-cycle fuel/mix containers with a special color (yellow or other) and label them with the correct mixture ratio (50:1). You can most likely use the same mixture for all your other two-stroke equipment. Use this container only for your two-cycle equipment. If you accidentally put straight fuel (no oil mix) into a two cycle engine it will completely ruin it in less than a minute.
There are a number of issues that affect storage of power equipment. Gasoline breaks down and leaves a varnish-like coating inside fuel tanks, fuel lines, carburetor circuits and makes rubber and plastic parts brittle. Additionally, tires flatten and dry-rot, and unprotected metal surfaces rust. To avoid damage and expensive repairs you may perform a Spring Service before you store. This may include the following (based on type of equipment):
Change your oil and oil filter (on models with internal oiling and oil filter).
Inspect fuel filter and replace if necessary.
Inspect air filter for dirt accumulation and clean or replace.
Inspect spark plugs and replace if fouled.
Sharpen blades/chains or replace if damaged. (mowers and chainsaws)
Drain fuel from fuel tank and run engine until it runs out of fuel. (alternatively you can dose fuel with a fuel stabilizer)
Grease all bearings and mechanisms requiring grease
Inspect wear items such as belts, starter cords, tires and cables and replace if damaged or badly worn.
Lift equipment and set on blocks to avoid flattening and cracking tires.
Cover equipment to protect from sun and weather
Check these items off your "Honey-Do" list and you should have no frustrations next Season when the equipment is needed again!
Off-Season Storage III
Dose your fuel with a good quality stabilizer. It keeps gasoline fresh, free of moisture and reduces varnish build-up in your fuel system. Use it in every batch of fuel for your snow blower because you never know when the last snow of the season will be.
Today's gasoline breaks down quickly. When it does, it leaves behind a thick varnish-like residue that adheres to the walls of its container, including the inside of the fuel system in your lawn equipment. Further, "regular" gas may have 10%, or more, alcohol, which attracts and blends with water, causing carburetor problems and the breakdown of lubricating mix-oils in 2-cycle equipment. Lawn equipment is especially prone to these fuel problems because the equipment is not run daily allowing time for the fuel to deteriorate and absorb water. For best results, avoid alcohol-blended fuels in 4-cycle lawn equipment and never use high-alcohol blends in your 2-cycle equipment. "Mid-grade" and "premium" fuels generally are not blended with alcohol.
A basic spring service performed each year should include, at least, the following;
Check the Oil and inspect for contaminants such as water (milky), fuel (too full, thin and smells of gas) or metal particles. Contact a service tech if any are found.
Change your oil now and every 25 hours thereafter.
Sharpen blades now and every 25 hours thereafter.
Inspect air filters for dirt accumulation now, and before each usage and clean or replace. Replace air filters after 25 hours.
Inspect spark plugs every 25 hours and replace if fouled.
Grease all bearings and mechanisms requiring grease.
Inspect entire unit including all wear items such as belts, tires, control cables, bearings and other parts and watch for worn, cracked, pinched or otherwise damaged parts, and replace if found.
Drain fuel from fuel system and replace with fresh fuel if it has been over three months since last usage without fuel stabilizer. If performing and end-of-season service, drain fuel tank or run engine until it runs out of fuel. (alternatively you may dose "fresh" fuel with a fuel stabilizer)
Helping the Environment!
The typical American homeowner creates about 20-22 tons of CO2 each year. This output can be reduced by using more efficient transportation, improving efficiencies in the home, and the workplace. Equally, if not more interesting, there are systems that remove and consume existing CO2 from the atmosphere. One of the largest systems includes your lawn. In theory, by keeping a happy, healthy lawn, garden and forest areas, you could actually become a consumer of CO2 instead of a producer.
To help your lawn make it through hot and dry times, postpone cutting as much as possible. When you do cut, set your deck on the highest level. The taller grass will shade its root structure. Grass is similar to trees in that the taller the tree/blade the deeper the roots. Deeper roots can reach deeper moisture and better tolerate a drought. A side affect of mowing at a higher level is lengthened mower life. You are less likely to hit rocks and roots when mowing at a higher level. Further, your blades stay out of any sand, reducing wear.
Choosing the Right Heavy-Duty Riding Mower
Do you have 2 to 5 acres of smooth-to-rough grass and up-and-down terrain? Try a "Garden Tractor". A true garden tractor has a heavy-gauge steel deck, stronger axles, and may offer shaft-drive. These mowers can pull trailers and power small implements. Alternatively, you can buy a commercial-grade "Z-turn". These mowers are fast, have decks up-to 72" in width and can mow nearly 4 acres per hour.
Choosing the Right Light-Duty Riding Mower
Its not just engine horse power and deck size. If you have 1/2 to 2 acres of groomed lawn, try a "lawn tractor". Those with hydrostatic transmissions (one pedal for forward and one for reverse) are the easiest to operate. Lots of trees? Consider a "Zero-Radius-Turn" or "Z-Turn" mower. This fun mower can turn within its own dimensions, spin around trees and hug landscaping. Customers often complete in 2 hours what used to take a whole day.
This heavier duty (brand dependent) unit is great for trimming and edging. Some models have the option of attaching a brush blade in place of the trimmer-line head. This circular-saw-like blade can cut through large grasses, vines and brush like a knife. Certain blades can actually cut down scrub trees up to 4" diameter. Use only blade kits specifically designed for the model and never, ever, attach metal cables or chains to the trimmer head. These will break-off in pieces and embed themselves deeply in whatever they strike!
Curved Shaft Trimmer
If you have an occasional need for a string trimmer for light duty usage and your are, shall we say, of less-than-average height, then the curved shaft trimmer may be just your tool. This, basic weedeater, is capable of light trimming, and edging when the head is turned 90-degrees to the ground. However, if you are taller or your property demands more hours of usage or more than trimming just the areas that your walk-behind mower won't reach, then step up to a Straight-Shaft trimmer.
Keep on Cutting
Keep extra chains. If you have a lot of firewood to cut or clearing to do, get some extra chains. It is very frustrating to have a weekend of work hindered by a dull saw. If you have extra chains, you can drop some off to get sharpened during the week and have several to use over the weekend.
Fuel Mix Oil
Use only brand-name, high-quality two-cycle oil designed for hand-held power equipment for your mixture. Do not use 2-cycle boat engine oil. Hand-held power equipment operates at much higher engine speeds and engine temperatures to create the desired power levels while reducing emissions. Using oils not specifically formulated for these engines may result in engine damage.
Check your owner's manual for the proper gas-to-oil mixture. For almost all modern two-stroke engines, a 50-to-1 mixture is recommended. This leaner mixture is possible due to improvements in the quality of modern mix oil. That requires about 2 1/2 oz. of oil for every gallon of gasoline.
According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons' 2006 data, over 100,000 people in the United States suffered an injury in a lawn mower accident for that year. Some of the most common injuries are due to slipping behind and under the lawn mower on wet slippery grass (yikes), or overturning a lawnmower on a steep hill. Most lawn mower injuries are preventable if some basic safety guidelines are followed.
Wear protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, boots and long pants, and never, ever, mow barefoot or in sandals!
Have your lawn mower serviced before the start of the season to ensure it's working properly.
Do not remove any safety devices on the machine!
Be sure to add fuel before starting the engine, not when it's running or hot. The liquid could overflow and flame up.
Keep hands and feet away from the lawn mower blade even if the machine is turned off. Once cleared of an obstruction, a blade can swing around and cause injury.
Consider Kevlar-filament chaps (when using a chainsaw) that are designed to tangle into the chainsaw chain on contact and stop the saw in a fraction of a second as opposed to cutting into your leg.
Don't forget the hearing protection.
What Chainsaw is Right for You?
There are three general categories of chainsaw that include the Trimming Saw, the Ground Saw and the Multi-purpose Saw. Within each category, a brand may have homeowner, mid-duty and commercial versions. Trimming Saws are compact and light. Homeowner versions are less expensive and designed for occasional use trimming branches while your feet are on the ground. Commercial versions are more expensive, more powerful and designed for 8-hour/day usage while climbing in a tree-top. Ground Saws are the big, heavy, high-powered saws designed for felling large trees and cutting-up the trunks. Multi-purpose Saws are capable of felling many trees while still light enough to swing around to take the branches off the tree while it is on the ground. Neither the Ground Saw nor the Multi-purpose Saw belong in the standing tree-top. Choose between homeowner, mid-duty and commercial by how often and how hard you will use the saw. If you and your wife will use it in the backyard 2-3 times a year for maintenance, get a homeowner grade. If you are putting it in the truck for your survey crew to use daily for light clearing consider a mid-duty and if you have 10-acres of forest to clear using a crew, get a commercial grade saw. Finally, select the bar/chain combination for the size of trees/branches you will be cutting.